I Spy Quilt

Monday, July 20, 2009

I have wanted to make an I Spy quilt ever since I had my first son who is now 11 years old. Whenever I would calculate how much it would cost and think about all of the work, I would push the idea to the back of my mind. Making quilts is not a cheap thing! You would think that you would save money by making your own quilt, but I can get hand sewn quilts at Bed Bath and Beyond for a lot less than I can make one. See my post about Bed Bath and Beyond for proof: For some dumb reason the idea to make an I Spy quilt popped back into the front of my mind with my last baby who is now 2. I knew that if I ever wanted to get the nagging out of my head that I would just have to make the quilt. I started looking for material and collecting it whenever I had a coupon and was at the fabric store. There is a whole I Spy quilt making business on ebay (and etsy). You can buy the material already fussy cut (that means cut so that the pattern is in the middle of the block) into blocks. I bought some material this way, but still needed a lot more. I found that buying material with several different characters on it that I could cut into blocks was the most economical way. I found this alphabet fabric on clearance for $1.99 a yard and got 26 blocks out of it (one for each letter of the alphabet)
Some of the letters were hard to see, so I took a fabric marker and outlined them.
I let my 11 year old son lay the squares out onto the floor. When I tried to help he said, "No Mom, you can't put that square there because it is blue and the square next to it is blue." He really was the best person to give the job to and he made sure that all of the colors were dispersed evenly.

I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and bought a really nice set of sheets with a high thread count for under $10 (They were on clearance for about 90% off and I had an extra 20% off coupon). I used the flat sheet for the back of my quilt and pinned it all together with safety pins. I thought I would try some machine quilting and get it done quick. I decided to try stippling (random shapes) and set up my machine. I found a multicolored blue thread that would help hide any mistakes I made and got started. My thread kept breaking on me so I adjusted the tension and tried different needles. No matter what I did, my thread kept breaking on me. I just decided to deal with it and kept re-threading my machine. I only worked on it a little each day since it frustrated me so much. One day I needed my machine to sew some patches on my son's boy scout uniform. I took the darning foot off the machine and forgot to put it back on when I went to sew my quilt again. For the first time my thread didn't break! "Darn" all of those quilting blogs and websites that said I needed a darning foot! I was able to quickly sew the rest of the quilt in just a few minutes! I think all of that starting and stopping that I did must have shifted my quilt, because in some places my fabric is all puckered up. I was just happy to get this project done and out of my mind. Just don't look closely at it.
My 2 year old absolutely loves this quilt. He loves finding Elmo, Curious George, Thomas, and all of the other cute characters on it. I hate to even think what I spent on making it. Without even counting my time I spent around $50-$60 (I didn't keep all of my receipts so I am not sure on the exact amount). I have some leftover scraps that I plan on fussy cutting and selling on ebay to recoup some of my cost. It would have cost me a lot less if I would have made a small quilt, but the practical side of me wanted a twin size quilt that would fit on his bed (when he moves into a big boy bed that is). Also, what fun is it to play I Spy with a small quilt that only has a few squares?

This was not a very thrifty project, but I got it off my my mind so that I can spend time thinking about other things now (That's thrifty right? Kind of? Okay it's a stretch).

I think I might try sewing another quilt again if I found some really great material on clearance, but I am not ready yet. If I had a better machine I would probably be more interested in quilting, but for now I will just admire others talented quilts.

For those of you who read this entire bog post, bless you. I am off on a camping trip with my family right now and this post was set on a schedule. I will miss all of my blog friends while I am gone!

I just found out that Stephanie at The Creative Side of Me just blogged about her quilt. Here is her link:


  1. What an ambitious project. I have several small projects cluttering up my mind. I should just have a project day and pound them out. Way to go!

  2. I have always wanted to make a quilt (since my granny made them I figured it would be a nice way to help me remember her). But, I have a serious case of OCD and know that this kind of project is not of me. I'll leave it to the professionals like yourself! Your quilt looks great. I'm sure it makes you feel even more proud that your son loves it :) Good job!

  3. Jen,the quilt looks great!Your on will cherish it forever!

  4. This is adorable! I made one for my grandson and used almost all scraps that I already had. I only had to buy fabric for the backing. It's the 3rd quilt here - Jack's Quilt

  5. Okay, Tammy's quilt just puts mine to shame. It is the quilt of an experienced, patient woman. Maybe one day that will be me.

  6. This is really cool! What a fun heirloom this will be for your grandkids! ;-)

    I'd love to do one of these...but, thinking and doing are 2 different things. By the time I ever attempt, let alone complete one, I WILL have grandkids! ;-)

    I linked to your quilt in my quilt post:

  7. Beautiful quilt!

    I just found you through Today's Creative Blog - congrats :)

  8. This is a super-duper terrific idea! How fun for kids!

  9. What a beautiful quilt! I'm a Gramma and getting ready to make my little grandson an "I Spy Quilt".

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Grammie Cindy

  10. I'm sold! I have a 1 year old GD nad this is going to be perfect for her. I just have to find the right charm paks or fabric to cut the squares. Thanks for sharing!

  11. my grandaughter and I are making i spy quilts its a job to find pitcures on material we plan to put photos on on some hexigons caint wait for my great granchildren to see the finished thing there are books called i spy .naomi

  12. What a beautiful look quilt! I love it! I'm making an I Spy quilt for my stepdaughter's new baby. I have the top done but need to take the time to get it quilted.