Sunday, September 23, 2012

Five Quilts with Meaning

All handmade quilts have meaning.  They are made by someone who has put thought into the process, and they are often made to mark a special occasion.  As quilters, we are lucky enough to sometimes be inserted into the process (since not everyone knows how to sew) and make something for someone so they can give this special quilt over to someone they love.  Over the past 2 weeks, I've finished five quilts that have special meaning.  I've made a baby quilt, a signature quilt for a bride-to-be and three quilts for two brothers and a sister (who is still yet to be born) who lost their dad to cancer in April of this year.

A close up the baby quilt!
A baby quilt using Out to Sea fabric
I've had the pleasure of handing these quilts over to their recipients, and it has been the best feeling!  I have to admit I make many baby quilts for clients who are giving them to friends and family.  The importance of these quilts is never lost on me, no matter how many I make.  I have always thought how cool it is that there are many babies out there using my quilts to sleep with, play on and cuddle.

The signature quilt for the bride-to-be.

Now, I also have the pleasure of knowing that there is bride out their with a signature quilt that shows all of the wonderful and crazy comments from 70+ of her family and friends about their happiness for her on her upcoming wedding.  I felt lucky to be part of the process for a sister-in-law who thought up the project and hired my to help "make it happen."  I made the blocks in advance of the bridal shower.  The bride's sister-in-law had everyone at the shower sign the blocks.  Then I received the blocks back and made the quilt.  I like how it looks almost like a garden trellace...and the border fabric is ironically called "bouquet," which I thought was very fitting for a wedding quilt.

Three quilts made for three children who lost their dad to cancer.
I consider the three quilts I made out of the clothing of a dad who lost his fight to cancer to be three of the most important quilts I've ever made.  I didn't know the dad before he died, and I only met the mom once before she handed over her husband's clothes to me and all of her faith that I could do a good job. I thought for a long time before I cut up his clothes.

In the end, I used simple patterns for the quilts because I wanted the clothes to be the main showcase and not some elaborate quilt pattern.  For the boys, I paid attention to the details in the dad's clothes.  I noticed that he liked a particular brand of button down shirt, so I kept the labels and used those in the quilts.  I made sure that each quilt had a pocket from dad's button-down shirt; the boys would be able to keep special mementos or letters in the pockets.  I incorporated one significant t-shirt the boys would identify with on the front of each quilt.  I used fabric from their dad's pants that was especially soft.  I used fabric from one of their dad's robes.  It was a honeycomb fabric that is very textured.  It added another dimension of something the boys could not only look at but feel and be connected to their dad.

The rag quilt I made for the little girl, using her dad's clothes.
For the little girl, who wasn't even born when she lost her dad, I wanted her quilt to be something she could use as a newborn and grow into as well.  I made a rag quilt for her using her dad's clothes, even the middle layer of the rag quilt is fabric from her dad's white button-down shirt.  I also appliquéd some flowers using different button-down shirts, pants and even some girly-colored boxers the dad wore.  I didn't want the quilt to be to masculine, so this was a nice addition to the blues and khaki's.  (The mother assured me that her husband was a "clothes horse" who took good care of his clothes and didn't wear anything for too long, so everything was almost new...including the boxers!)

As I worked on these quilts over a two-month period, I would often walk into my craft room and smell the dad's cologne still present on his clothes.  I often felt like he was right there with me helping me make the right decision about what to do for each of his kids. I also found it a bit humorous that maybe he was looking down on me from heaven, being the "clothes horse" I knew he was, saying, "oh, don't cut up my favorite shirt" or "those were expensive pants you're cutting up."  But I know he would be happy with the end result: quilts that would help his children recover from the pain of losing their dad and feeling closer to him with the presence of the quilts in their home.

As I said, all handmade quilts have special meaning.  They are put together by someone who has put thought into every aspect: the recipient, the color, the fabric, the pattern, the thread, the batting, the quilting, the binding, the signature block.  All of that comes into consideration when making a quilt.  These five quilts that I made simultaneously and happened to finish within 10 days of each other, have become a special group of quilts for me and I'm sure for the people who are giving them as gifts and for the people receiving them as gifts.  This week has reaffirmed for me why I am a quilter, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity.

A bright and cheery quilt for a happy occasion.

And it appears the trend week I will make a quilt for a young mom who's had a rough life and recently had a stroke that has left her paralyzed and in hospice.  I've already started thinking about the fabric I will use on her quilt and how this quilt will hopefully give her strength at a time when she feels like she has none.


  1. Your story of the three quilts has really touched me. I made a quilt from my son's shirts, ten years after he died. It took me that long to be in the right place to be able to do it. God bless that little family.

  2. The lives you are touching with your live and creativity is amazing❣️ God Bless You💕