Here’s where the fun starts! Bring the boxes down from the loft, or bags out from under the bed, and take a good look through all those special baby clothes that you’d like to use in your baby clothes keepsake quilt or cushion.
When you start pulling together all those cute clothes you may find that you have way too many and can’t quite decide which items you’d like to include. You might also be unsure about which will work best, what you’ll be comfortable working with and even have some items that you just don’t want to cut into.
Whether you are making your baby clothes keepsake quilt yourself, or commissioning it from someone else, selecting the clothes that are going to be included is a very important step.
Here are our top tips for making that selection:
Pick Out Any Baby Clothes Keepsake Items That You Don’t Want To Cut Into
Consider pulling out one or two items that are best kept whole (in a memory box, or to pass down to future generations). These might include a tiny baby-gro so you can remember just how small they were!
Put Aside Any Items That Aren’t Suitable For Patchwork
Most baby and children’s clothes will work well in a baby clothes keepsake quilt. The only fabrics I’d advise against using at all are:
- anything slippy or shiny like pvc, leather, rubber, treated rain macs etc,
- very lightweight fabric like netting or tulle unless it has backing or is part of a frilled skirt or similar
- toweling unless it’s pretty thin
- heavy fabrics like a wool coat or heavy denim
- open knits or crochet (which unfortunately rules out most hand knitted items – probably good candidates for that memory box anyway)
- anything that can’t be ironed
If you are making your own baby clothes keepsake quilt then you might have items that you are just not confident about using, so those will need taking out too.
At this stage, it’s a good idea to pull out anything stained if you don’t want that included in your quilt. If you’re commissioning a quilt then it’s a good idea to attach a note so we know that you are happy for it to go in.
You’ll also want to consider how washable different fabrics are. Most baby clothes will have been machine washed many times, meaning your whole quilt can be machine washed. If you include a dry clean only or hand wash only item this may restrict how you can clean the quilt.
Selecting From The Remaining Keepsake Baby Clothes
From your pile of suitable items, start picking out those items that are ‘must haves’ for your quilt. These are likely to be those with the most precious memories attached, or favourite prints/motifs etc.
When I was sorting my children’s clothes I found there were items that just jumped out at me, that got a firm ‘yes’ regardless of colour or style. There were the things that reminded me of very particular moments, people or feelings.
I also found lots of things where I just loved the pattern or details – why I bought them in the first place – or that captured something the kids were really into, like my son’s Thomas the Tank Engine obsession!
Finally, supplement your ‘must have’ items with others that complement them. Don’t forget – you can also add in items like maternity clothing, cot sheets, light weight curtains, nursery bedding or new fabrics.
Here are some things to consider:
- A good mix of colour is helpful to give contrast to your finished quilt. If everything is a very similar colour palate then the quilt can look a bit flat, and if everything is very busy then it can be overwhelming.
- The most pleasing quilts have items in different ‘colour values’ (dark, medium, light) and at least one highlight colour (e.g. a yellow or turquoise with pinks, a red with lots of pale blue).
- If you have plenty of items to choose from, and you prefer a more coordinated look, then you might want to lean towards a particular colour combination or theme.
- A mix of different scales of pattern gives texture, and some plains and spots/stripes are also great as fillers to help the more interesting pieces stand out.
- If there is an item that looks really garish against everything else then it might be aswell to leave it out unless it’s very precious.
- Motifs, appliques and embroideries on the clothes add interest and detail which draws your eye. It’s generally these elements that make a keepsake baby clothes quilt into something really special to look at.
When you get your selection laid out you will normally find that it makes quite a pleasing combination! Baby clothes just seem to work that way.
Preparing Your Fabrics
Once you have your final selection picked out give everything a wash. Baby clothes often harbour stains which only become apparent on washing and ironing. Sometimes you won’t care about a stain but it’s better to discover them now rather than after your baby clothes keepsake quilt is made!
If your selection is totally random or includes items that are stained or a bit ragged but everything is precious to you don’t worry. The most hotchpotch pile can still make a beautiful baby clothes keepsake (I have yet to make one I didn’t like) and the memories in your quilt are more important than anything else – that’s the point of creating a baby clothes keepsake, after all!
Over To You
How have you found looking through your children’s baby clothes? Are these observations helpful? Do you have any advice for other parents? Leave a comment below – let us know what you think!
If you’ve ordered (or plan to order!) a Memory Quilt or Keepsake Cushion from us, then we are very happy to answer any questions you might have about the clothes you’d like including, and advise on suitability if you’re not sure. If there are items you’d like used in a particular way, then just let us know! We can do all sorts of clever things with your clothes to produce a beautiful keepsake.
If you are making your own baby clothes Keepsake Quilt then please hop on over to our make your own section to find out more! Please do consider our Baby Clothes Memory Quilt Tutorial. Our friendly Facebook group is a great place to ask advice about particular items, and the tutorial contains loads of suggestions, tips and tricks on how to make the most of different features in your clothing. You can get a free sample here.
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Thanks for reading!
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