Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Baby Quilt


We found out that Bunny was on the way when my husband and I were really still newlyweds, married only six months. James had been hoping for a girl (I thought that was the sweetest thing!), and we were thrilled to discover a few months later that we were expecting a daughter. It was all new to me. I had been a youth worker and then an elementary teacher for years, but I had never spent any time at all around babies. We walked through this new adventure of doctor visits, childbirth classes, and nursery shopping with both excitement and nervousness. What were we in for? Everyone had advice to share with us, and we were constantly trying to take it all in, not knowing what to expect.

I will never forget my first baby shower, thrown by the sweet (mostly elderly) ladies at our little church in California where my dad was the pastor for over a decade. I sat down that afternoon and opened package after package containing gifts made by the hands of those dear women. My little Bunny started life with a stack of crocheted blankets, a nine-patch quilt, even an intricately crocheted Christmas stocking. Hours of time and love were poured into those gifts for my baby, and I was so deeply touched. I often told friends that my daughter (and Bear and Mouse to follow) were blessed with dozens of "grandparents" during those early years, and truly those wonderful people couldn't have loved my daughters more if they were their own flesh and blood.


There is something special about sewing for babies. It's not just giving a personal gift of love to the new parents or even creating something to help fill a baby's nursery. I'm always so aware that what I'm making might end up being an important part of this child's life, a "lovey" that never leaves a toddler's side or a quilt that the he or she snuggles beneath every night. For instance, that nine-patch quilt I mentioned above was used by each of my daughters, but little Mouse became particularly attached to it. To this day she can't sleep at night without "Flowery" curled up beside her (she named it after the floral prints that the quilter used). In fact, my little six year-old-is in tears every time her quilted friend has to take a trip through the washing machine, waiting desperately for it to come out of the dryer so that I can once again wrap her up in that familiar, comforting warmth. Flowery is starting to show some wear, and though I've had to mend it several times over the years, Mouse wouldn't part with it for anything. I have no doubt that she'll be showing it to her children someday. 

So when I heard that my brother-in-law and his wife were expecting a son in early October, I immediately knew that I wanted -- needed -- to make a quilt for our new nephew. My good intentions got the quilt started several weeks before his due date, but other deadlines and responsibilities kept me from finishing it until this week.


I'm so used to sewing for girls that it was a challenge to make a quilt for a boy. I wanted to be sure that the fabrics and colors I used would be a good fit, and I wanted it to be interesting enough that he would enjoy it as he got older. Out came the animals and the birds and all the fun children's prints I've been saving for kid friendly projects like this one. I even was able to sneak in a few prints from my Sample Spree goodies at Quilt Market last weekend. I've noticed a natural progression with each of my daughters and their quilts: play mat for the baby, blanket for the toddler, and friend for the preschooler. Because of this, I like to make baby quilts on the small side so that a young child will be able to carry it around without it being too large to handle easily.


The pattern is pretty typical for me: simple squares, alternating low volume and saturated prints, with a few squares on point mixed in for interest. I quilted straight lines 1/4" on either side of the piecing lines. The quilt is backed in one of Tula Pink's amazing Free Fall wideback prints, and I bound it in a turquoise print from Anna Maria Horner's True Colors line. This is the very first quilt for which I can ever remember making a label, and I will try to do it more often in the future. Using the letter embroidery feature on my Singer made things a lot simpler. I also really love that little raccoon from Kim Kight's adorable new Yours Truly collection.

I mailed the package off to our nephew last night along with three flannel burp clothes, each sewn by one of my daughters for their new cousin. They were so excited and proud to contribute a gift that they had made themselves, and I'm so thrilled to see their joy in that making. As I watch my brother-in-law and his wife start down the road that we began so nervously almost ten years ago now, it's amazing to me how far we've come. My little babies are growing up into capable young women, creative and sensitive, diligent and curious. It takes a lifetime to see the final legacy of all the values that we hope to instill in our children, but every now and then, I feel like we get a little peek at what the end result will look like. I just couldn't be more proud of them.

11 comments:

  1. Totally awesome! Fabulous fabric combination. And I love love that racoon too (that's the only new fabric I recognized immediatly ;-))

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  2. I love this. What size are your squares?

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  3. wonderful quilt with great fabrics, love this :0) greetings from denmark >Ulrike :0)

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  4. Loved your story and the quilt you have sewn! All stitched in love!

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  5. You write the most beautiful posts, Heidi. How wonderful to have your first born loved by so many 'grandparents'. I love your rationale for making baby quilts on the smaller side (I think I might adopt this too!). I enjoyed looking at all the different fabrics in your nephew's quilt (you did a great job selecting fabric; boys are more difficult to sew for, I think, as there is less fabric available that is appropriate for boys. Particularly if your stash is steered toward girls!). I loved reading that your girls each sewed a burp cloth for their cousin. Your label looks great - I think I'll try a label like that on one of my quilts!

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  6. Such a sweet post and how wonderful to have so many lovingly handmade gifts for your new baby.
    I'm not always sure that what I make is appreciated but it's really for me that I do it. Made with love always beats out store bought!

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  7. I teared up reading your post - it's really from the heart. I love how you're passing on the beauty of handmade gifts to your girls. Beautiful baby quilt, I'm sure your nephew will love it...

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  8. So cute! So nice of you to do this for them. We were just notified that my Son's girlfriend will be an Aunt soon! We are so excited. I told my husband that I wanted to make a baby quilt for them. You have inspired me.

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  9. I too have only daughters, so sewing baby quilts for nephews sounds like the same kind of process that you went through! :-) I love making them with lost of animals and interesting things for them to look at and learn to name. so much like yours!! Congrats on becoming an Auntie: it's going to be fun! I love your tag too: clever and cute!! Hugs, H

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  10. This is so simple and beautiful and timeless, Heidi! I still have quilts and crocheted blankets from my mother's own (mostly elderly) church ladies shower for me in circulation and I hope all the baby quilts I've made enjoy the same lifespan : ) Congrats on a new nephew!

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