Ideas for the Quilt Squares
for the Dec 98 Babies Quilt

All these ideas came from the September 1998 quilting list. If you want to add a suggestion directly, or comment on an existing one, please email Kyle with specifics.

Most of all - have fun!


There are some cute novelty and baby fabrics. KP Kids puts out a line right now called "oh, baby, baby" which is darling, but there are novelty prints in just about any interest your child might have: dinosaurs, trucks, trains, stars, animals, frogs, balloons... you name it.

Also consider a novelty fabric for the rest of the quilt. You can either make the sashing in a solid or a related print and the borders in a novelty print, or make it all with the novelty print so that the hands kind of "float" on the background. You can also use a novelty fabric for the quilt's backing.

FLANNEL. Some people say that flannel is a definite no-no for quilts, but our list experts :-) gave it the go-ahead as long as it's 100% cotton flannel. Flannel also works well for the quilt backing.

FELT. Do not use felt on your squares, because it will dissolve if you ever have to wash the quilt.

Remember that the fabric doesn't have to stay the same color that you bought it. Wow! You could dye, sponge, spot paint, tie-dye, satori-wrap, batik, stamp, spatter, ... All in the designs and colors of your choice. If you want some gorgeous photos, take a look at the 746.6 section of your local library - that is handicrafts, including dying and quilting.

How to Capture a Handprint or Footprint

An easy way to get an accurate handprint or footprint for use as a pattern is to XEROX your toddler's hand or foot... takes practically no time, and is accurate!


Rubber Stamping

One idea for handprints or footprints: there are some stores that specialize in rubber stamp crafts, and they can make up a rubber stamp of the baby's handprint. You'd have to get a good-quality print in black on white paper, and might need to play with it on the copier to make it darker. It takes about ten days to two weeks to make up the special stamp and costs around $10-15 depending on the size of the baby's. Just another possibility.

Office supply stores or printers could have rubber stamps made up if you don't have access to a good crafts store near you.

I'm probably going to go with the rubber stamp because, well, it seems quicker.

I think the hand stamp is neat because then they have the stamp (handstamps instead of bronze 1st shoes :-) .

Based on a t-shirt painting/stenciling/stamping workshop, Dianne says the stamps didn't make a distinct enough impression or else had messy edges and in any case had to be hand-corrected--what a PITA.

Stamping with Styrofoam

Trace the hand and cut out a stamp from a piece of craft foam. Do the stamping from that. You can carve other things in the foam, too, which will appear in negative when you stamp.

Roll the ink onto the styrofoam with a roller.


One way to paint hand prints is to trace or get an imprint of the hand using whatever technique, then cutting a craft or thin kitchen sponge to the shape and using that to paint the squares.

The smaller the "mesh" on the sponge, the heavier and clear the image will be.

Jo-Ann Fabrics sells a very flat, thin sponge. It is kind of like cardboard in its thickness, and all you do is trace the handprint, then cut it out. After that, you put it in water and it swells up like a normal sponge. It works great! It is called "Instant Pop-Up Sponge Sheets", and there are 3- 4" x 6" sheets in the package for $2.99.

Note that sponging a handprint wouldn't make a very clean impression. OTOH, that's part of the charm of the sponge painting. It isn't supposed to be a clean solid image - it's supposed to be sort of soft and... well, spongy! :-)

Iron-On Transfers

The idea of iron-on transfers is that you create a handprint or design once, duplicate it onto special paper, and iron the handprint/design onto the fabric. Transfers can be created with or without computers.

To get the design on the 26 blocks, I expect to have 26 iron-ons and just iron away. I think this should trim down the time to a reasonable few hours.

Transfers probably won't be as artistic as I like, but alas - I would assume this only requires an iron and 5 minutes per square (10 an hour spread over lets say 6 weeks) - I'm probably over-estimating after I get the hang of it.


You can take pics to Kinkos (or similar places) and ask them to photocopy (& REVERSE) the pic onto transfer paper, then you can just iron them onto the squares... I think they have a little more descriptive instructions there!

FWIW, I called and asked Kinko's about iron-on transfers. They are $5 each for an 8x10 size and a little more (I forget exactly) for 11x17. To do it this way, one would probably need to get several designs onto a page to minimize the total number or we'd go broke getting 50-60 designs. This was for color photocopying; I didn't ask about digitized images.


An idea I had even for doing my square is to do it on the computer in Photoshop and then print it out on the iron-on transfer material, then transfer that to the square.

Also, if you have access to an inkjet printer, you can buy iron-on transfer paper any place that carries computer supplies. I think you use the same ink. I have a package of paper for my printer, but haven't tried it yet.

The Canon BJC 600 has transfer paper specifically for it and it will do color

JoAnn Fabrics/Cloth World carries iron on transfers for ink jet printers, and it may also be available through office supply stores.

The iron-on transfer paper for ink jet printers is about $1 per sheet, and the ink cartridges are about $35 for a set of color and black cartridges. (I don't know yet how many prints you get out of a set of cartridges) So Kinkos is making a killing. For that many it would almost be cheaper to buy your own printer!

I believe this paper will work with any inkjet printer, so if you have access to one it should work. But if you have a better printer, the quality will be better of course.


Applique is simply attaching a fabric design (like your child's handprint) on top of the fabric square. Using coordinating or contrasting fabrics gives a beautiful look.

Novice quilters should probably avoid hand applique, but you could consider machine applique using a fusible web. There is no-sew applique stuff that you iron onto your applique fabric, then cut out the pattern (i.e. handprint), then iron onto the square... no edge finishing necessary! Try Fusible Web, Wonder-Under, Heat'n'Bond, or Warm and Natural's "Steam-A-Seam for Applique". Any craft/fabric store employee ought to be able to help you find it.

Directions are with the package. You iron the fabric to one side, cut it out and tear off the backing paper (maybe in the other order?) and iron the piece to whatever you want it attached to. Be careful throughout that you don't get the stuff on your iron. It's a pain to clean off.

Some sort of finishing was still needed, be it stitching or edging with fabric paint to seal.


I traced his hand several times until I got one I liked. I cut it out of heavy paper then traced it onto a piece of plastic canvas I had. Cut that out and it made a great stencil!

Stenciling is probably a bit more work than stamping, but you may get a darker, cleaner image.

Get some stencil plastic and an exacto knife and make one stencil based on the handprint. For a small project you could use a cardboard stencil, but the cardboard ones will fall apart fast on a project as big as this quilt.

Use a natural bristle brush for applying paint to the stencil. The bigger the area you want to stencil the bigger the brush, to a certain extent.

I think a good fabric paint is the way to go. Do NOT use paint markers--the effect is very patchy and you have to go over and over the same spot a million times to get it semi-opaque. You should be able to ask the craft store people which paints to use.

Also check out the web site for Michaels; they may have a print-out worksheet on how to stencil fabric.


Something I thought I might do that would come out the same is trace a handprint on some sort of heavy paper then use it as a model. It would cut down on the waiting time and the cost. You could trace it with bright colored markers, or paint over your tracing.

Stabilizing Your Squares Before Decorating

To be able to decorate the squares without the fabric shifting, we can use a little trick I learned in a class. If we iron freezer paper or wax paper to the back of each square, that would give us a border to decorate in, the paper could be left in until folks were ready to assemble their quilts (or whatever) and then it just peels right off when you are done. Oh, and it stabilizes the fabric so you can write on it easily.


Writing on the Quilt

When we talk about writing, we mean the names, birthdates, etc. This information will go directly on the squares, along with the handprint and whatever else is in your design. There is lots of room for variety in how you write your info!

Pigma Fabric Pens. They are generally sold in art shops, fabric stores, craft stores (like Michael's), college book stores, web mail-order places (like Keepsake Quilting), and through Creative memories (photo albums). They are permanent, come in colors, and I think different nib sizes.

SetaScrib+ by Pebeo. They look a lot like thin magic markers, so you hold them like a pen to write. Also, you can vary the thickness of the line you make by using the tip, edge, or side. About 18 colors. Non-toxic. Forgot to note price, but their URL is

Scribbles Three-Dimensional fabric writer. Little plastic bottles with long skinny noses, so you cut the nose as thick as you want the paint to come out. Since they are called 3D, I presume this is a kind of "puffy paint." Not as flexible on the line thickness as the SetaScrib+ pen, but probably contains a lot more ink. Non-toxic. Dozens of colors in five finishes: shiny, iridescent, crystal gel, fluorescent, and glittering. US$.99 for the 1 oz size or US$3.49 for the 4.5 oz size (limited colors).

Indelible Markers. Office supply places also carry indelible markers - like Sharpie - in limited colors and several tip sizes.


Other Neat Stuff

I'm thinking of doing a little silk ribbon embroidery at least on some of my squares.

I've thought of the handprint on a larger object, lace trims, photo transferred onto the handprint or elsewhere on the square.

I am going to add some Hebrew and some freehand embroidery - probably some sponge printing.

I am working on my design and plan to incorporate both a handprint (scanned, if I can keep his hand still for that long) and a photo.

Ribbon embroidery is simply done with different widths of ribbons, rather than embroidery floss. I'll use a narrow ribbon for this . . . I just thought it would look pretty with satin ribbon rather than thread.

You can decorate or embellish the blocks in a number of ways. Write sayings on them, or add buttons or lace (make sure anything is sewn on very tightly, since these will be children's quilts).

Square Designs

I'm hoping this isn't too ambitious, but I'm thinking of this:

  1. photocopy Emi's hand
  2. make a tracing template
  3. trace the outline onto the fabric
  4. ribbon-embroider the handprint (ribbon embroidery is simply done with different widths of ribbons, rather than embroidery floss. I'll use a narrow ribbon for this . . . I just thought it would look pretty with satin ribbon rather than thread)
  5. write with puffy-paint (Emi's name and d.o.b.)

- - -

I'd really like to be able to look at various fabric prints/themes/colors to see if there's something that captures the essence (hence, Mikaela's middle name.. Essence) of Mikaela's character and then use the print of the fabric to guide how I decorate the block.

Some of the images that come to mind with Mikaela are pigtails or braids, her sister (who is just as much as Mom to her as I am), her stubbornness and her laugh. Can I portray all of that on one block? Maybe.

Comments on extra squares, etc.

As I think Libbi suggested, the extra squares we cut out will always be used to make sure we don't have a prime number of squares.

One idea that I'm considering is making a couple of extra squares to give to the grandparents, either as a pillow or a wall hanging.

Remember you don't have to do a quilt, but a book and once you get the squares back, you can take whatever time you need. Trust me, Sabrina might have hers before she goes to college :-).


Help is available from our experienced quilters: Carole.

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 9, 1998

Comments or corrections to this page, contact Kyle.
Comments on this web site, contact Valerie.

Back to the main December List page.