Making a Swaddle Quilt

DIY, Home, Parent Life

One of my favorite aspects of newborn life was wrapping my son and daughter up in those super soft swaddle blankets. Made from muslin and printed with adorable images, they brought so much comfort to those early days. Each time I wrapped them up I remember thinking, ‘I would really love being wrapped up in this fabric, too – it’s so dreamy.’ As my kids grew I couldn’t stomach getting rid of their swaddles. Aside from the soft fabric, the memories of those early days were also in each and every one.

To be honest, the decision to make a quilt out of all their swaddles was a bit spur of the moment. I needed the closet space and didn’t want to part with them. The perfect solution – make a quilt!

The Process

Something to know about me and my quilting skills…I’m not a perfectionist. I’m more of a progress-over-perfection quilter which, for me, means just the right amount of planning and execution. I love love love working on my sewing machine and care for measuring, ironing, and pinning much less. I still do all of those things, but definitely don’t get as much joy out of them. I see quilting as a fun creative outlet verses a serious craft. That likely puts me in the minority among quilters, but that’s ok, I’m comfortable here.

Luckily, as I discovered, all of the swaddles we had collected were perfect squares of 44″ x 44″. This made planning out the quilt super simple. Not so lucky for me, swaddle fabric is very stretchy and super difficult to work with. They make amazing swaddles but can also be a nightmare when it comes to ironing, measuring, and cutting. Unsure of how to proceed, I called my quilting expert Aunt Jan. She confirmed the fabric would make this tricky and if I wanted to have perfectly cut and sewn squares I likely would be investing serious time on the front end to spray starch, iron, and measure each swaddle before cutting and sewing. I made the decision this quilt would be made with love and care, but wouldn’t be perfect. This approach isn’t for everyone but it worked for me!

I started by taking each of our nine swaddles and cutting them in half and then in half again. (Yes, I skipped the ironing and measuring.) This resulted in 36 equal(ish) squares, which would become the blocks of the quilt. I decided to make this quilt a perfect square with six blocks across (rows) and six blocks down (columns) so all 36 blocks would be used.

Next, I laid all the blocks out on our basement floor – the only place large enough in our home for a quilt to be spread completely out. With all the blocks laid out, I did my best to arrange them in a loose pattern with varying colors so the quilt felt balanced, though not a perfect pattern.

Now came time for pinning – one of my least favorite aspects of sewing BUT also one of the most important! Just about every time I approach my sewing machine I ask myself if I can skip the pinning part. Then I hear my grandma’s voice in my head, sigh, and get out my pins. I pinned together all the blocks from one column before taking the full strip over to my sewing machine. While my kids were less interested in me cutting squares and arranging blocks, they were super interested in the sewing machine. Veda helped me sew just about all of the blocks together. This quilt was made with love and contains all perfect imperfections I was hoping for.

Once all the columns were done, I joined them together strip by strip to form the top quilt. You’ll notice from the picture a few of the blocks have trim. We had two plain white swaddles with a decorative trim that I loved. I didn’t want to loose the trim in the quilt, so I sewed those blocks with the edges up so the trim would remain visible. It adds a nice dimension to the quilt.

Ok, with top quilt done I had some choices to make about what to do next. Option one: add a backing, finish it like a traditional quilt, and call it done. Option two: add a backing to strengthen the muslin top, then turn this into a duvet cover that could be stuffed with a fluffy comforter. After consulting the family, the consensus was to make this a fluffy duvet.

Time for a trip to Joann! While soft and scrumptious, the muslin top quilt was still very stretchy and a tad bit fragile. I was concerned the quilt wouldn’t stand up to the test of time OR use by two rambunctious kids. I found a slightly thicker and more sturdy white flannel for the backing. This gave the muslin some security and shape while still protecting the softness of the original swaddles. To make the duvet pocket, I selected a light gray jersey fabric that I knew my family would find super comfortable and snuggle-worthy. Yes, I know, jersey is another tricky fabric to use. But since this quilt is a standard square with no fuss I figured I could make it work.

Back in the basement it was super simple to add the backing. Honestly, the most time consuming aspects involved maneuvering the largeness of this now king-sized quilt. It’s heavy and massive and took some finesse to get it over to and through my sewing machine with pins around the edges.

Since this quilt was so large, the backing needed to be secured to the top with more than just edge sewing. Generally, quilters will sew patterns in the top to help secure the top quilt to the backing. Since I do not have the machinery necessary to do that on such a large quilt AND I wasn’t about to sew it all by hand, I decided to knot tie it with yarn. I used an embroidery needle to knot tie short pieces of yarn through the center of all 36 blocks.

To add the duvet pocket I duplicated the same maneuvering I did for the backing, but left one side open. This is how the quilt, or should I now say, ‘duvet-quilt’ currently stands. I haven’t finalized the pocket with buttons just yet because this thing is so big and heavy I’m not sure we want to add a king size comforter to the inside. Yes, it would be fluffy and amazing. But, where would I store this massive thing?!

The (almost) Finished Product

So, the duvet-quilt remains slightly unfinished. Do I close the pocket and keep this a quilt? Or do I add the buttons and make this an official duvet? What do you think?

Either way, we tested it out this weekend and it makes for the perfect nap blanket! Tucker the Pug agrees.

Creating a Zoom Worthy Home Office

DIY, Home

When my partner and I moved to a new city in 2016, I had to find a new job. Thankfully, I found a position within my current organization that allowed me to work remotely. Most of my new team was based in New York, with a handful of us working all across the country. Adjusting to working from home definitely had its ups and downs. While I was able to complete some household chores throughout the day, like laundry and dishes, the isolation was a big adjustment for me. Additionally, I needed a work space that looked semi-presentable on Zoom. The messy home office cluttered with boxes and old papers was not a good look.

The Project

During my second maternity leave in 2018, I was blessed with a baby that did super well snuggled up in a Boba wrap tied to my body all day long. This allowed me two free hands for most of the day. Sitting around reading and watching TV got boring fast, and since my daughter was born in November, outside activities were limited. I needed a project. A big one. So I decided to tackle my home office.

Our current home office was located in our basement den. We were using my desk from high school (!!) and a few old bookcases we had collected over the years. In the corner of our office was a stack of boxes from our various moves that we just hadn’t gotten around to unpacking in 2 years. Cleaning out the mess was task number one. Task number two was envisioning a space that would be functional and beautiful while not breaking the bank.

The Vision

My vision for this new space was simple: wall-to-wall bookcases and two desks facing each other, partner-style. The bookcases would provide much needed storage and the desk set-up would give both me and my partner individual and dedicated workspace; something we desperately wanted. Finding budget friendly options was a little harder. I started my search like I always do, with the major big brands like Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel. Their beautiful designs gave me a ton of inspiration, though the price tags did not.

The Furniture

Enter IKEA. IKEA had an online planning tool that allowed me to virtually design my dream room using their products. My daughter and I made several trips to our new local IKEA to scope out the goods in person. I tested out all the desks and office chairs, and measured floor model bookcases and storage units until I finally landed on the perfect solution. I selected seven Hemnes bookcases and two Hemnes desks, all in the white stain. Though not the cheapest of the IKEA options, the quality and price balanced nicely for our intended purposes. I decided to splurge a bit for my desk chair since I knew it would be getting a ton of use so I went with the Hattefjall in grey and white. All in all, the total spent on on all this brand new furniture was just over $1,500. Not bad considering what we got in return! I was able to assemble everything, with my daughter snuggled up on my chest, over a couple of days.

The Light Fixtures

Since IKEA had proven economical and stylish, I stayed to browse the lighting fixtures. Who are we kidding, I could not have found my way out of IKEA without following the maze-like path and I just happened into the lighting section. Regardless, I found two black Ranarp pendants that were the right style and price I wanted. A couple of DIY Youtube videos later and I was calling myself an amateur electrician. The new space was coming together nicely!

The Décor

IKEA for the win, again! I found the perfect storage boxes for all the random papers and office materials we needed to keep, but didn’t want looking messy. Enter the Fjalla storage boxes. They were easy to assemble and look super sharp on the white bookcases. After a few hours of organizing and labeling, most of the office was assembled and looking awesome.

All that was left was something for my Zoom background AND a solution for all the random pictures and frames I had just cleaned out of the stack of boxes in the corner. With gallery walls notoriously tricky to get right, I opted for two black floating shelves from Amazon that I could stack all our framed pictures on. The end result was just what I had hoped for!

The Transformation

IKEA Play Kitchen DIY Hack for Under $100

DIY, Home, Parent Life

The kid play kitchen. It’s become ubiquitous in the homes of most millennials with kids, and ours is no exception. I originally got the idea to take a base model kid kitchen and spruce it up into something that would blend better in our home from our cousin, Priya. She had taken her daughter’s IKEA play kitchen to the next level with minimal DIY supplies, and I was inspired!

I purchased our IKEA “Duktig” play kitchen on sale, bought some easy supplies from Amazon and at our local Lowe’s, and got started. In total, I spent just under $100 on this play kitchen and it’s been totally worth it!

Getting Started

Like all IKEA purchases, the Duktig play kitchen came in a flat box and required assembly. It took me just over an hour to assemble alone. Since I wanted a ‘before’ picture, I chose to assemble it completely. I would later take some parts off for the ‘hack’ before putting the final piece back together.

The Hack

After completely assembled, I took off all plastic accessories (sink, faucet, knobs, hanging bar & hooks, and stovetop) and spray painted them copper, our kitchen’s accent color. I did this in May when the weather was hot, so it didn’t take long for the 2 coats of paint I applied to dry. Regardless, I left them drying overnight before adding them back on just to be safe.

Next, I took the top half of the set off, which allowed me to remove the counter top. I applied a piece of butcher block contact paper from Amazon to the entire counter top. I then reassembled the top half of the set.

The original kitchen set does not come with a backsplash. We definitely wanted one so the wall this sits against wouldn’t get dinged up from playing. Using a large leftover piece of cardboard, I covered it in subway tile contact paper from Amazon to match our kitchen’s backsplash, and attached it to the back with tiny pin nails.


Play Time

This kitchen gets a ton of use! In fact, I’d say it’s the most popular toy in our home. Both our kids (2 & 4) still play with this set, as does every visiting kid. It’s become a staple in our home and the anchor for several other learning-toys like chef costumes, these color sorting fruit baskets, and the Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Counter, Keurig, and smoothie sets.

Have you completed an IKEA Duktig kichen hack? I’d love to see your before and after pics…comment to share below!


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