Making a Splash – A Quilt Making Story


This is a story about a quilt I started way back in July of 2016.  That may seem like a while back, but, honestly, I have unfinished projects way older than that!  This is a quilt I designed for a new addition to our family – born in August 2016.  I had a vision for this quilt as soon as I heard what the theme was for the nursery.  It was a labor of love & I am in love with the finished quilt!  Rarely do I make something that turns out like I imagine it, maybe even better.  I hope you enjoy this quilt making story!

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It all Started with a Sketch

Whenever I get ready to make a quilt for someone, I always start with a sketch.  For this quilt, I knew the nursery theme was elephants with a sort of Bali inspired color palette.  I went through a couple ideas & finally settled on an elephant spraying water with the name at the top.  Here’s my sketch:

I didn’t want the elephant to be quite as cartoony as mine.  This took some time to figure out & I’ll tell you more about it later in the post.  Once I had the elephant ready, I pinned her to a natural colored muslin base.  Then I started cutting out splashes & drops in different colors.

As you can imagine, that took quite some time to do!  I used a quilt basting spray to hold things in place when I was ready to sew things down.  The name is sketched in at the top with a good ol’ #2 pencil.

I used different stitches on my machine to stitch each splash in place.  That really took a long time, especially since I had several layers on most of the splashes.  Then I started thread sketching the name on using my free motion foot.  This was a bit scary for me because I’m still learning about free motion quilting.  I think it turned out pretty well!

Once everything was stitched down & the name was finished, I spray basted it to the batting & backing.

It was all ready to quilt, but it sat like this for quite awhile.  I knew what I wanted to do, I just didn’t want to mess up all that work with bad quilting!  Needless to say, I was a little fearful of ruining the whole thing.

Just Quilt It!

This thing’s not going to quilt itself, so I had to get started!  Originally I thought I would use my free motion foot for this, but I decided to use the walking foot.  I wanted wavy lines & very few tight curves.  It seemed this would enhance the splashes the best.  I’m so glad I listened to myself!

When I was finished quilting, I couldn’t stop touching it, which is what a quilter wants!  Here’s a close up of the elephant.  I found a picture of a real elephant online, used a filter to print it in black & white, & then blew it up to the size I needed.  This took a little trial and error because I only have a 8 1/2″ x 11″ printer.

Then I traced it onto a separate piece of muslin with a fine point sharpie.  I know – it was scary for me too!  Everything got covered up with fabric patches, so it was okay.  : )  This all got stitched down with various stitches from my machine.

Check out those splash lines!

I used a meandering, wavy line that crisscrosses here & there.  I did sort of out line the elephant as well.

For the splashes, I just followed the path between them.  No certain spacing was used.

To keep from starting & stopping as much, I would return to certain points in the pattern & stitch along the edge of the quilt.

Here’s a couple close ups of the thread sketched letters.

I chose a bright yellow solid with an orange tint for the backing.

Once I was done quilting, I went around the edges with a zigzag stitch because I wanted to wash it before binding it.  That caused me some heart palpitations for sure!  My washer & dryer are very old & have no “delicate” or “low heat” cycles.  I kept a close eye on it & it turned out just fine!

Binding & Finishing

I auditioned a few fabrics for the binding, but the Robert Kauffman fabric I bought at Quiltcon was the winner, hands down!  It was dark enough to frame it, but the touch of gold was what made it the perfect fit.

Here’s the selvage information in case someone else loves it too!

I also needed to make a rod pocket, since this will hang on the wall over the bed.  This polka dot fabric seemed like a good fit & I almost decided to use it backwards.

Ultimately, I decided to use the front & added a label with some binding leftovers.  I caught the top edge in the binding & hand stitched the bottom down.

And now, here is the finished Splash quilt!

This quilt is making me so happy!

Just look at all the movement in the quilting!

The name turned out better than I had hoped!

The splashes go right to the edge!  I didn’t intend for it to be that way, but I like it!

One more pic with a flash of the backing…

This has to be my most favorite quilt I’ve every made!  It just makes you want to reach out an touch it!  I hope little Charlotte loves it as much as I do.  : )

I have a very busy weekend full of family & food coming up, so that means there won’t be a blog post Monday.  I’ll see y’all back here on Wednesday!  Y’all have a safe & happy Easter weekend!

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