Bai Jia Bei is a quilt made of pieces of cloths collected from relatives or friends or people in the neighbourhood to obtain their blessings for a new life in the family. The blessings and good wishes from others are collected are sewed into a quilt to protect the child from bad luck and to wish him or her to grow up well. It is a Chinese traditional handicraft which is prepared for the celebration of the 100 days birthday of the newborn baby. A quilt is a multi-layered textile, traditionally composed of a woven cloth top, a layer of wadding and a woven back. Quilting is the process of sewing the three layers together. Nowadays, fewer people are still making this quilt so today I want to share about the way of making it from unwanted fabrics or clothes to reuse them. My mother is the main craftsman here and I am her assistant.
First, search through your house for any unwanted fabrics that still can be used for making a quilt. The fabrics are washed thoroughly and disinfected. Next, decide on the pattern of the quilt and size of each geometric shape used. I am sharing about the checkerboard pattern quilt with 5 cm × 5 cm squares. Larger squares take a shorter time to complete a quilt but the appearance will be poorer. Strips of cloth can be added in between the squares to increase the length and width of the quilt.
The number of squares depends on the required dimension size of the quilt which can be estimated with current blanket size or height and body dimensions. Other geometric shapes can be added to enrich the pattern depends on liking. The fabric collected can be distributed according to colours and pattern. The above steps will help you to design the pattern of the quilt and estimate the amount of fabrics needed.
My mother prepares a large piece of plain blackish-blue cloth, random pieces of unwanted pyjamas, unwanted strips of cloth collected from her previous sewing work, a few large pieces of cloth with a pattern of orderly arranged checker and another twice larger piece of cloth with a pattern of random placement of many Hello Kitties riding bikes. You can either make two woven cloth as top and back from the pieces of fabric and insert a wadding in between or only make the woven cloth top and use a large piece of cloth as the back before inserting wadding like what I will be showing.
The required number of squares are drawn on the drawing paper with certain rigidness as moulds. The squares are cut out with scissors.
The fabrics are cut 1 cm larger than the square in all edges. The square is placed on the back of the cut fabric and wrapped with it. The fabric is fastened to the square at the four corners with a stapler. The above procedure is repeated with each square. It is the best method of killing time so relax and do it while watching drama.
Then, sew nine small squares together to form a big square with an alternate arrangement of plain blackish-blue square and random pattern square. Another big square is made with the arrangement of the small square totally opposite to the previous one. The number of big squares required for each pattern of arrangement is calculated, reviewed and followed to avoid errors. The steps above are repeated until a total of 60 big squares are made.
We prepare 540 squares, together with strips of cloth, forming the woven top of the quilt of 57 inches × 91 inches. 6 big squares are sewed together side by side to form a row. 7 rows are prepared. Each row are 90 cm × 15 cm. The unwanted strips of cloth are trimmed to a dimension size of 90 cm × 5 cm. 6 strips of cloth are prepared to fill the space between each row. A row is sewed together with a strip, followed by another row. The step is repeated until the 7th row. All staples are removed with a stapler and the wrapped paper squares are removed except those at the four edges of the incomplete quilt.
Then, the incomplete quilt is sewed onto a few large pieces of unwanted cloth with ascending order of dimension size to increase the thickness and dimension size of the quilt. The staples and paper squares at the edges can now be removed. All those paper squares can be reused for next quilt so do not simply throw them away.
Finally, the large piece of cloth with the Hello Kitty pattern is divided in half. One is sewed onto the incomplete quilt as the part of the top while another one as the quilt back was sewed to the three edges of the top with one edge unsealed to insert the wadding later. A pretty Bai Jia Bei is done with the reuse of unwanted clothes at home and my mother’s skilful sewing, adding with my help in cutting, fastening and arranging the squares. Wish you all to enjoy giving it a try!