Memory Quilt for a New Baby

A friend contacted me during the spring to ask if I’d be willing to make a baby quilt. Because of my Lenten promise not to start new projects and because of the House Divided quilt I knew I’d have to make between April 20 and May 23, I wasn’t sure I had time. The friend said she wasn’t looking for complexity as much as she was looking for simple squares made out of meaningful fabrics, so I agreed to try.

The friend’s nephew and his wife were expecting a baby in June (the baby is here safely and everyone is doing well), and they wanted to have a baby quilt made with the fabric from a favorite shirt of the baby’s grandmother, who had passed away. The child is named for the grandmother, which makes it even more special. I was also asked to include silk from one of the bridesmaid dresses from the wedding (that my friend washed and dried to make sure it would stand up to such abuse before making the request), as well as fabric from a shawl that was carried in the wedding.

I used the arms of the shirt first, so that the grandmother’s arms would be wrapped around the baby. Then the fronts of the shirt, then the shoulders, and then the back. There’s about a 12″ square of fabric left of the shirt that can be used for a future quilt if they want another one. There are two dark squares in the quilt that were the fabric under the front pockets of the shirt. The patch that would have been over the grandmother’s heart is on the edge of the quilt, so that they could monogram the baby’s name into it if they wanted to.

I quilted flowers into it because of the grandmother’s love for gardening, since the denim shirt was her gardening shirt.


Working with denim, silk, and satin damask proved to be an interesting challenge. The quilting cottons were a good stabilizer and helped keep the quilt square as I finished it.

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I was going to add brighter fabrics, but found that the competed with the shirt and the silks, so I chose instead to go a more subtle route. The final result was very good, I think.

My friend said that when she delivered the quilt to the new parents and shared the order in which I made it and that I made the quilt top on Mother’s Day, there was not a dry eye in the room.

I’m really glad I got to be part of this important project.

House Divided Quilt

This is the 6th finish of 2014! Go me!

One of the members of the math department where I teach is a rabid Alabama fan. He married a rabid Auburn fan yesterday. Our department decided that a “House Divided” quilt would be a fun gift for him, so I decided to do a simple giant chevron. I designed it in TouchDraw on the iPad first, and figured out how many squares of each color I would need.


Then my coworkers drew the diagonal sewing lines on the squares for me (because I HATE that part of doing half-square triangle units), and I sewed and cut the triangles. Here’s the stack of all of them before pressing and trimming.


Once they were all pressed and trimmed, the quilt top went together very fast.


As always, Friday “helped” with quality control.


The completed top was too big to lay out on my floor, but I tried.


I chose to quilt it simply in a spiky swirl pattern with white thread, just to give it some softness and keep it from being too angular.

I raced to finish the quilt in time to give it to Henry and Alta at Baccalaureate in May since all of our department would be there and we wouldn’t all be in town for the wedding. This meant I had to wash and dry the quilt — and deliver it while it was still warm from the dryer — since Alta is allergic to cats and Friday had “helped” so much.

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The backing fabric was a PERFECT match to the colors in polka dots — I’m not sure if Riley Blake has roots in the South, but this particular color combination is a very Auburn/Alabama one. I was very excited when I saw it.

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The binding was houndstooth, as a nod to Henry since he’s the member of our department.


This is a rushed and blurry shot of the quilt after being washed when it got all crinkly and delicious, as quilts do.


And here are the bride and groom with the quilt. They were completely amazed and had no inkling that we were going to give them something like this. Their reaction was perfect and made all of the effort absolutely worthwhile.