Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Baby Quilt

Baby Emma's Quilt - a closeup of the top 

I mentioned in my last post that I made 3 quilts in one month. I can't show you 2 of them until July, but I can show you this one. It was made for a special couple who have been friends with my family for years now and they are expecting their first baby. 

Calvin and Hobbes
 My friends love the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. These charming comics tell the story of a little boy's adventures with his imaginary tiger. The comics were written and illustrated by Bill Watterson.

Calvin and Hobbes River by Smoky Pixel
 There are all sorts of images from this wonderful cartoon strip out there on the net. From the watercolor painting above to the 2 photographs of children's bedrooms below. 

 The 2 bedrooms I'm showing you were painted based on this iconic image of Calvin and Hobbes enjoying an afternoon off and hanging out in a large tree.

This is the image I decided to base my pattern on, only in summer and spring colors.

Notice the purple watercolor in the tree trunks? Keep that in mind....

My first choice was go with this iconic image or to change it a bit; I decided to change it a bit. I wanted Calvin interested and involved in what is going on below him.

My friend Sara told me she was planning on hanging the quilt above the crib and in my mind's eye I saw Calvin looking down on the new baby. I wanted him welcoming this little baby into his imaginary world.

So I needed a Calvin to make a pattern from - found one.

Another comic of Calvin and Hobbes reading by the fire created by Bill Watterson

As I thought more about the design elements of this quilt, I decided that I wanted it to look like a quilted version of the comic strip. Therefore, the black lines around many of the figures and details became important. Calvin and Hobbes is a drawing and to capture the characters I had to make use of those exact lines. 

 I traced a large image of Hobbes on freezer paper and made a pattern. Each shape became a piece of fabric. I fused the orange and white patches to a black fabric the shape of the tiger. I started with the tail - and shared a photo of it with my friend to tease her a bit. You can see the rough green fabric I chose for the tree foliage. Remember, I wanted the quilt to look like the comic and not 'real' landscape. 

Basic layout of my fabrics - that background green takes up too much space in the landscape, I'll have to shrink it down...

I had made a really big pattern of the tree and used one plain brown batik. I found the softest minty green fabrics I could find to make the landscape and made the tiger first just to see if it would work. It did. Hobbes really looks like the comic strip. 

Hobbes in fabric

In the jungle the peaceful jungle the tiger sleeps tonight...
(I know the lyrics are supposed to be 'the lion' sleeps tonight.)
 After I finished the tiger, I made the little end of the tree branch and Calvin. Then I added a few leaves on top, just a few for extra details. Before I fused my buddies on though, I had to do something about the boring brown tree.

If you compare the tree in the following photos with the tree in the design layout photo above, you'll see the change. I put plastic under the brown batik and got out my watercolor pencils. I used 2 shades of purple and a deep charcoal and added more color and dimension to the tree trunk.

I shaded the right side of the tree and added touches of purple here and there at the top and in the shadows. It made a huge difference! Once the paint was dry I pressed it with a hot iron to set in the color.
I put stripes on Calvin's shirt and shoes using a black pastel and a light touch.

I used a thick black marker to outline both sides of the tree. At this point, the sign isn't completely finished - Sara had 2 name choices in mind so I planned to make a removable (sticky backed) sign with an alternative name for her. I also downloaded a Calvin and Hobbes font to use for making a pattern for the letters.

The butterflies are double sided and stitched down only around their bodies so they flutter off the quilt surface.

Here are some closeups of the finished quilt and quilting.

All done with the quilting! The baby is named, the sign is permanent. I chose soft pink tulips for her garden because she is a spring baby. 

I stipple quilted the 'foliage' and stitched down the appliques using matching thread.

Here is the tree - 

The finished tree
 Just for fun I decided to color the back of the quilt with a crayon. Once colored a bit, I pressed with a hot iron to set the dye.
The back side
 Right before I gave them the quilt, I added my name - trying to mimic Calvin's scrawl. 
Add caption
 And here is the finished quilt. 
Welcome Emma!

Well it is time to head back to my sewing room. Border strips are calling and Ellie Cat is whining. Oh decisions decisions; play with the cat or keep working on my projects? Until next week or so... bye!


  1. did you have to get permission from Watterson to do this or is it okay because it is a one off gift for someone. I wanted to do something for a baby quilt and was told I couldn't because of copyright issues.

    1. I asked Mr. Watterson - he did NOT write me back. Since these characters are all over the place I went ahead with the quilt. My guess is that there might be copyright issues here. I figured that Calvin/Hobbes are so well known and so much out there in other peoples art, their walls, etc. that I'd go ahead anyway. I won't make another of these and I won't sell any pattern. I'm not saying that these characters are in the public domain though, rather they are like 'Harry Potter' or the Tardis and Dr. Who, and the copyright owners won't bother with small time 'infringement' here and there.

      The only incident I know about where the C/H publisher asked someone to take down their images was when there was a graphic web site using C/H and putting them in photographic landscapes. It was a whole site dedicated to this theme and as I said, the publisher asked them to disband the site and they did.

      If I find that there is any problem regarding this quilt, I'll be deleting the blog. I wish Mr. Watterson had gotten back to me, I really wish he had because I'm a little uncomfortable with this too.

  2. OMG what a beautiful quilt. I am a big fan of Calvin&Hobbes. Mr. Watterson should be proud and display your quilt. Wonderful work. Jen

    1. Thank you! I hope if he ever sees it that it makes him happy. :)

  3. What are those water colour pencils that you use - that is a very cool technique - great for highlightling an enhancing. Can you let me know where I can find them. I just love this quilt - wonderful

    1. Comment from the Unknown Poster, lol. :)
      Actually, I probably got these at a craft store like Michael's or Ben Franklin. You might be able to get them at an Office Supply store as well. They aren't high end artist's pencils, just the regular kind you'd get children.

  4. I love Calvin & Hobbes. I was searching for a C & H fabric line to make a quilt when I came across this post. Your quilt made me cry. The thought and care that went into making such a lovely gift for friends and your talent is amazing. I hope they never put this in a box. It's so lovely, it deserves to be displayed--even when the baby is grown!

    1. Thanks. I have a feeling they will treasure it always. I'm glad you liked it so much. They were such an amazing duo.