Baby Clothes Memory Quilt

I always planned to make a quilt out of Iya’s onesies that I’ve been saving. I wanted to make a special keepsake for her that really means something that she can cherish forever (I hope she does!). Also, upcycling is just such a great habit to make! I could hold on to boxes and boxes of baby clothes to pass down but will she really want dusty moth-eaten decades-old baby clothes when she has her own children? Apart from a few special pieces, no way! So i’ve saved special outfits for her to keep and basics/essentials for her future siblings, but the cutesy onesies and footie pajamas that are so quintessentially *Iya* in my memories of her first year.. I saved specifically for this project. 🙂

A super thoughtful tip… create a photobook of your little one wearing all the onesies used in the quilt!!! I made a 70 page hardcover book for a little over $20! Tell me a handmade quilt and matching blankie book wouldn’t make the best gift ever?! 😫😫😫 You can get $10 off your first book HERE.

I followed a few different quilt tutorials and learned as I went. I’m so happy and proud of my finished product so I wanted to share exactly what I did with you guys! As corny as it sounds, this project brought me so much joy. I hope it gives you the same warm fuzzies and inspires you to make one too! I promise its easy, if I can do it you can do it!

If you have some experience sewing, you might already have most of the tools needed. Apart from your actual sewing/crafts kit, you’ll barely be spending anything on this project (yay, upcycling!) I was starting from scratch though, like literally buying my first sewing machine that morning, so my “start-up costs” weren’t cheap but now I’m all set for all the halloween and dance costumes that I’m sure are in my future lol.

What You’ll Need

Baby Items:
  • Clothes (duh!)
  • Something for the back (ie. sheets, blanket, swaddle, etc)
  • Material for the binding (I used an old burp cloth)
Other Materials:

^^If I already had my sewing machine and cutting tools, I’d really only need to buy these three things. This is such a great upcyle project using all of your own existing materials!

Tools:

 I have everything in one list on my Amazon storefront!

Let’s do This!

1. Dig up baby clothes!

Dust off those bins in the garage! Before you move on to cutting, really look through your available clothes, sort them by color and/or pattern, and begin to visualize a color palette. There were a few items that I cut but didn’t end up using because they didn’t mesh well with the rest.

You don’t need to finalize a layout or anything but roughly plan how big you want your blanket so you can estimate how many onesies you’ll need and how big you’ll need your squares to be. I was able to get two squares out of most items, some PJs I didn’t want to deal with cutting the zipper out so I settled for just the back from those.

I planned to cut 6″ squares that’d be sewn down to 5.5″ but they ended up as 5″ squares in the end.

What I ended up with:

  • 5.5″ squares sewn down to 5″
  • 7 squares across, 6 squares down = 42 total (minimum 21 items of clothing)
  • 30″ x 35″ blanket

2. So ✂️ Much ✂️ Cutting

You’ll need a rotary cutter but seriously, just buy the extra blade upfront too. There was so much cutting involved that my blade got pretty dull near the end, it was super annoying until I replaced it!

Cutting the Clothes

Baby clothes are super duper stretchy so your first cut into the item doesn’t have to be precise. Just be sure that the piece you cut is bigger than what it needs to end up being (5.5″ x 5.5″ in my case). I was cutting perfect 6″ squares for hours until I realized they didn’t have to be perfect yet. A quilter’s ruler will make this step super easy with your rotary cutter but I listed this item as optional because all you really need is a “tile”, precise measurements aren’t required yet.

I found a plastic box that had 6″ edges and used that as my guide. If you can’t find anything around the house then of course, just get the quilter’s ruler!

  1. Lay your clothing item flat on your cutting mat
  2. Using your “tile” as a guide, cut around the edges with your rotary cutter

If the item has buttons and you want to keep the hardware details.. cut your square so all the buttons are ~3/4″ or more away from the edges. You’ll lose ~1/4″ when you do your final trim and then you’ll need another 1/4″ of clearance to sew. For items with zippers, I cut the hardware out from the inside before cutting my square.

Cutting Your Interfacing

You’ll need interfacing to stabilize your stretchy squares. I used Pellon 905F as per one of the tutorials I followed. Its up to you how soft or stiff of interfacing you want to use – 905F is pretty soft but just stiff enough to give you crisp squares.

  1. Use your acrylic ruler and cut your interfacing into your final dimensions (5.5″ x 5.5″ for me).

This also doesn’t have to be perfect perfect because we’ll have to trim once more but just make sure it isn’t smaller than your final dimensions.

3. Stabilizing Your Squares
  1. Iron your onesie fabric onto the interfacing. (bumpy side of the interfacing to the wrong side of fabric)

You’ll see that crazy stretchiness I was talking about while you’re ironing so just make sure it’s secured evenly before moving on to the next step.

4. Trim Your Final Squares

Precision is very important here.

  1. On your cutting mat, use your acrylic ruler and rotary cutter to trim your freshly ironed squares into your final dimensions (5.5″ x 5.5″).

5. Design Your Quilt

All the tutorials I watched described this step as their favorite, I found it frustrating tbh lol!

  1. Lay your squares out in your desired design.

I kept second guessing myself and moving things around. I also had to do this at night after Iya was asleep because she kept grabbing them 😂

6. Construct Your Columns

This is where it got really fun for me! I loved watched my quilt come to formation.

  1. From your floor-plan, stack your squares by column. I started at the top corner and stacked one on top of the other as I went down.
  2. Get comfy at your sewing table with your stacks. I loved zoning out at the machine and found it really therapeutic! I made sure I had everything ready at my station so I wouldn’t have to get up.
    • Seam rippers for mistakes
    • Scissors
  3. Sandwich your top square and the one beneath it, wrong sides facing out, and pin it in place.
  4. Sew them together on the bottom edge of the top square and top edge of the bottom square (that’s so confusing written out lol), & remove pins.
    • You’ll be sewing 1/4″ seams throughout this blankie. I measured with my acrylic ruler and drew a stitch line for my first few squares but realized quickly that the foot on my sewing machine is 1/4″ on either side of the needle. I just lined up the edge of the foot with the edge of my fabric and sewed, no drawn line necessary!
    • Go slow if you’re a beginner like me and do your best to sew straight. It doesn’t have to be perfect but just concentrate lol!
  5. Repeat Step 4 with the next square until you complete your column (6 squares down for me)
  6. Repeat Steps 3-5 for each column (7 columns for me)

7. Sew Columns Together

Similarly with the last set of steps, you’ll start sewing your columns together left to right.

  1. Sandwich one column on top of the next with the wrong sides facing out
  2. Pin sandwich together at every seam so the squares line up and on both ends so they don’t shift as you sew.
  3. Sew 1/4″ seam from top to bottom as straight as possible (right edge of left column to left edge of right column) and remove pins
  4. Repeat Steps 1-3 until you’ve completed all of your columns (aka all of your squares!!!)
  5. Hold it up and admire your hard work!!!! 🙂

8. Make Your Sandwich

Now it’s time to put your blanket together! You’ll want your batting to be a little bigger than the front of your blanket, and the back to be a little bigger than that.I used Iya’s fitted crib sheet (elastic cut off, obviously!) as the back :’)

  1. Lay your back fabric on the ground, wrong side up
  2. Tape the edges down so its held in place slightly taut minimizing ripples
  3. Lay batting on top of back fabric
  4. Lay front piece on top of batting, wrong side down
  5. Fold top two layers back halfway
  6. Spray underside of batting with adhesive and press down flat to blanket backing
  7. With top layer still folded away, spray adhesive on top-side of batting and unfold top layer flat on top of it, press down 
  8. Repeat Steps 5 & 6 with other half

It should be pretty secure at this point to finish up your project but you can walk over your sandwich to make sure it’s really stuck together! Clean feet or socks of course lol!

9. Map Your Quilt

I love the look of a quilt with visible stitches and I’m guessing everyone here is a beginner like me so we’re going to move forward with a super simple quilt design.. diamonds! If you don’t want visible stitches you can “stitch in the ditch” and sew over your square seams. Its all personal preference! I hope one day I’m skilled enough to do fancier designs but for now we’re gonna stick with straight lines lol.

  1. With painters’ tape go corner to corner as far apart or as close as you like
  2. I eyeballed it and put the tape down about a quarter inch away from the corners so I could sew alongside the tape instead of directly on it.

The tape I had on hand was pretty wide, I recommend using something thinner so you know exactly what you’re looking at. My center squares aren’t the same size as the rest because I got confused with my thick tape 🙄…. it’s chapping my ass to look at now but whatever lol it was my first try.

10. Start Quilting!
  1. Sew straight alongside your tape guides. Pay attention and make sure you’re sewing on the correct side of the tape, that’s a LONG stitch to remove if you put it in the wrong place!
    • A little tip as you get closer to the center and theres so much blanket on the inside of your sewing machine arm.. instead of bunching it, roll it! It really gets it out of the way.
  2. Remove tape

You’re so close to finishing, how exciting!!! You’re really seeing your final product come to life now. Your last step will be to finish those raw edges!

11. Bind Raw Edges
  1. Square your quilt by trimming straight around the perimeter. I first cut off the excess batting and backing with scissors and then used my rotary cutter to get a super straight line.
  2. Bind the raw edges. There’s no way I can explain this in words so watch THIS video to learn how I did it! 🙂 You can buy ready-made binding or make your own. I cut up an old burp cloth and made my own! Make sure you have a couple extra needles on hand.. this will be the thickest part you’ll be sewing. I snapped two needles right near the end 😫
  3. Wash your finished quilt to get rid of the spray adhesive and soften the blanket. It’ll continue to get softer as your little one uses it of course!

Bask in the glory of your priceless quilt!! YOU DID IT!!