Thursday, January 6, 2011

Starry Night: Or, How to Re-imagine a famous Van Gogh using flannel and polka dots.

Starry Night: Or, How to Re-imagine a famous Van Gogh using flannel and polka dots.

Or, more accurately:

A Flannel Reverse-Appliqué Baby Blanket.
Little House, anyone?  Call me half-pint.
 (more pictures as you go, I promise)
I am about to become an Aunt (That’s pronounced “Ant” by, the way.  I have little interest in being an “awuhnt”, and a lot of interest in being able to lift 10 to 50 times my body weight)  So, for Christmas this year I decided to make my brother, sister-in-law, and future niece this cuddly-soft blanket.

Last year my friend Mary introduced me to the world of reverse appliqué via a book she had called The Alabama Stitch Book.  We made super cute reverse appliqué over-the-arm pincushions out of old T-shirts.  I liked the concept of reverse appliqué so much I decided to employ this technique on a blanket.  

So, I got 2 yards of red flannel and one yard of red cotton with white polka dots.  I took one yard of the red flannel and laid the red polka dots beneath it (right side to wrong side) and quickly stitched them together around the sides with my machine to make it easier to work with.  Then, I drew stars on with chalk, using a stencil I made, and free-handed a sweet moon sliver in the corner. 

Now comes the epically time consuming part.

Using extra-thick white thread doubled over on it self (to make it thicker and stronger) I stitched around all my chalk lines by hand.  I used an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut while I worked.  It did take quite a while.  I tried to do one or two stars everyday so as to not get burnt out, but if I happened to be watching a movie or something I would do quite a few (which is how I stabbed myself in the leg with an embroidery needle whilst watching a French movie with subtitles).  After I stitched all around a shape, I would tie off the thread and clip it.  

Now comes the joyful, liberating, and fun part.

Grasping my sewing scissors (more accurately, my mom’s which I have been borrowing for lo these many years, time to get my own because she took them back over Christmas for her own use! Can you believe it?) I carefully cut out the inside of the stars, not too close to the thread so as to not unravel the whole project.  That part is the most fun, because it’s much quicker, and so rewarding to see the polka dots peeking out.
I'm a star, I'm on top, somebody bring me some haaaammmm! (liz lemon, of course)

After I finished all the stars and moon, I took the other yard of red flannel and sewed it to the other to layers around the edged, right side to right side like you would a pillow, leaving a little hole to pull it through and make it no longer inside-out.  Then I stitched up the little pull through hole and used more of my extra-thick white thread to stitch a decorative little border around the edges.  
I hate it when carpet gets in my pictures. Oh well.

See, this way the front side is pretty and could possibly be interpreted as a flannel interpretation of “Starry Night” (which it really wasn’t intended to be, that is totally just a joke, for the record.  I don’t aspire to replicate Van Gogh in flannel quite yet), while the back side is just flannel and feels oh-so-soft to little baby’s rosy cheek.
Now comes the joy of giving part!

I gave this blankie to my brother and sister-in-law, and they seemed quite pleased.  Hopefully years from now, my little niece will be all cuddly and warm in bed with it one night and think “Wow, my Aunt Courtney loves me bunches” and not “Good grief, this is very folksy.  We young people these days are into hologram blankets, you know.  Where’s my hover dog?  Of course, even if she does think that and has a hover dog, I’ll probably have moved on to actually making hologram blankets by then, because goodness knows I’m very hip and with it. 
Ant not Awuhnt


  1. "'We young people these days are into hologram blankets, you know. Where’s my hover dog?'"

    Hahaha I love you so much, Courtney!

  2. Why thank you, anonymous. I have no doubt the feeling is mutual.

  3. I love this! Your niece is going to feel so loved that her super-cool "Ant" Courtney made this for her. I'm glad to hear that your brother and his wife like the present. Courtney, I love how you're not only super crafty (and by "crafty" I mean talented at making things), but you're also super witty!