Archives for category: Quilts

It’s simple.


Every baby needs a quilt.


Some babies never grow very big, so their quilts are little.


But they are important, and mommies and daddies will never forget them.


So the mommies and daddies can hold onto the quilts, and love, and remember.

I hate Hate HATE miscarriage. Another sweet friend of mine lost a wanted child. This is the quilt I made for her, just about 18 inches square. (My toddler “helped” with the pictures!)

I want to make more of these. I have many friends who have struggled with losing their babies, and I have seen how powerful it is to validate and acknowledge those little lives – these children are real; they lived; they were loved; they matter; they are missed. There is no expiration date on grief, but the only thing I know to do is say, “I have not gone through what you are experiencing, but I am here with you, and I am hurting with you, too.”

Quilts heal.

I have not been blogging my sewing as I prepare for the holidays because I’m not sure who would peek! But there are a few things I’ve sewn and sent to friends in England, and as they’ve arrived already, I am free to tell the interwebs!


I actually cannibalized an unfinished quilt that just wasn’t working for me. These two quarter dresdens were salvageable and perfect for the personalities of two friends in Sunderland. I turned them into quilted cushion covers! My friends live in the same flat, so if these go in a sofa, they coordinate!


The other gift is actually a collaborative project for friends getting married this week! My accomplice across the pond made six large star blocks with a grey background using greens and blues. I sent along a little navy floral print for binding along with the batting, so once the two sets of stars come together, they will make a lovely little wedding throw! I think it’s appropriate that this quilt is being made on two continents as the couple are also international. I can’t wait to see it all done!

Hoping everyone likes their gifts and that they feel love from the sunny south!

This is a short story, a sad story and a happy one.

Several years ago I became friends with a family of four. Eventually, my then-boyfriend met them, too. Their children were part of our wedding. We started meeting at their house a few times a month with other young couples.

Then babies started happening. There was one due in June, one in July, one in August (ours!), one in September, and one in October – one per family, all in a row!


It was wonderful being pregnant with friends. We shared joys and tears, ate whatever we wanted while we could keep it down, and we dreamed together about our children.

Then we got the news:  October Baby didn’t make it out of the first trimester. It was our friends’ baby, the one whose siblings were in our wedding.

We mourned, we wept, we supported.


Months passed, and the babies started coming. Finally, my child arrived. When our friends came to visit at the hospital, they had news:  they were pregnant again!

I wish I could say this baby went full term, but she did not. Again, we mourned, we cried, we believed this was not the end of the story.


When I learned Esther was on her way, I determined to do something special. I came up with a design using forty sawtooth stars in 3 sizes. Every week, I made a star and prayed for Esther in her mother’s womb.


I was finishing the binding when she arrived, perfect and full term and beautiful. Her presence does not make up for the pain of her lost siblings, but we are all so thankful she is here, and we love her so very much!

For the full story, including some very real and powerful vulnerability on the part of Esther’s mama, see the blog at shaileyratliff.com

This is a sad story.


It’s a story of a little one who was loved and hoped-for…


…All the days of his life.

His mama was overjoyed to learn he was there. She cried when she told me. I cried, too. J’s sister hadn’t made it out of the first trimester. I didn’t know her, but I began praying for him. Each week I made a pinwheel block. I planned to vary the sizes. 

But then I got word. At eleven weeks, they couldn’t find his heartbeat. He only measured seven weeks. We were heartbroken!

His mama started going for long hikes while his father was away on tour. I finished his quilt – so much smaller than we hoped for!


I can’t write this without tears in my eyes. My one-year-old naps beside me, but instead I think of his would-be friend. I think of my dear friend, mother of two but unable to hold either. There are no words, no ways to make it better. But I’m still here, sad and grieving, too. And J still has a quilt, because he matters, he is loved, and he is missed.

I’m not one to create whole quilts from a single fabric designer, but this one is the exception!


It started with a Denyse Schmidt charm pack purchased in postpartum delirium. In the chaos of first-time motherhood, through emotions and hormones and sleeplessness, I needed a straightforward project, an anchor for my soul, my me-ness, something to get me sewing. 


The great thing about Denyse Schmidt is that her fabric lines tend to blend well together. I pulled all the bits and pieces I had in my stash, adding a few solids (of which I keep little on hand), and cut 5-inch squares. I could sit on the couch, newborn asleep across my lap, and play with matching prints to solids or sketching half-square triangle layouts. 



I call it “Transitions”. It speaks of the journey into motherhood, the way some things change and others stay the same at their core. I finished it with a grey Lotta Jansdotter binding and chunks of vintage sheets in the backing. It measures 49×56 inches. 

And this time, I’m not cropping out the quilt holder. Those hands held me as I fell to pieces, and those feet paced the wee hours with our swaddled son, and that heart encouraged me and did his best to understand. It has taken time, but we have come through it a family, bound together and beautiful, reflecting effort well-spent and growing love. 

It’s pieces like these that make me so thankful for the luxury of being a quilter, that I have the ability to distill these bits of soul into practical, wonderful works. I can look at this quilt and remember how very hard those first months were, but they became something lovely after all.

Oh, this one was long in the making.

  
I began cutting early last year.

  
It was my in-between project, something to do just a bit on as I stitched other, more pressing pieces.

   
 
I didn’t bother calculating the hours or the amount of fabric used.

  
I just went with my guts, and more and more meaning came to be as I worked.

  
Even the final detail – going back through and hand-tying each block – was important, solidifying. (Photo is blown out on purpose – it’s so hard to see the black-on-black otherwise!)

  
The back has as much significance as the front. It references adventures together, cities and firsts-of-its-kind, extravagance of hard-to-find hoarded yards (yep, that’s Jay McCarroll in there!), colors of rust and fire and hipsterrific flesh tones. 

  
That’s 80 blocks total, finishing at 60×75 inches post-wash. I love every bit of it, and even more the friend who owns it now.

Although she and I used to run in the same circles, hopping the Pond together on more than one occasion, it is harder and harder for our lives to intersect in person. Thus, when we finally found time to get out in the woods together, I knew I had to finish in time. I asked her to help me hold the quilt while I took pictures. It wasn’t until I asked her to find the dedication did she realize it was for her!

  
And it just happened to be National Quilting Day! Such a precious, unforgettable way to celebrate!

This quilt is entitled “Ex –> Plus / Inheritance” because it is a directive over her life:  every place that has been an “ex” is being transformed into something positive, every place someone has judged her or cut her off or used her badly is turning into beauty that is firm and lasting. And this is the inheritance she is building for future generations. I am so thankful to be part of her story, so glad she has not only a tangible representation of my love for her but of the Great Love, in whom we live and move and have our beings, who orders our steps and redeems even the greatest pains.

I’m a bit behind on my blogging as this was finished on St. Patrick’s Day!   

    
   
I had such fun with #QuiltNon2016 that I went ahead and finished my piece with my sampler blocks (thanks again, Julie!)! At first I was planning on stitching in the ditch, but that quickly became too cumbersome. So I decided to pull out the darning foot and try something I hadn’t attempted in years – good ol’ free motion! It took me awhile to get the hang of it, but the piece was just perfect – not too wide, and I could roll and unroll to a new section as I wiggled and waggled through a meander. I finished the red block last, and I’m happy to see improvement as I progressed. I even had a #QuiltNon2016-inspired backing – my “what was I thinking” fabric!

I love little projects that finish quickly! It’s a nice reward in the midst of bigger endeavors. Right now this rainbow is hanging among other minis, but I could easily see it as a table runner one day when we have a table big enough!

Oh, this is a special one.

  

It began with redemption and forgiveness, with the belief that truth ultimately wins, but in the meantime, there’s no reason to be idle.

  
It became a gift of love, as quilts always are, but this time the hours really were countless, combining handwork and machine like I’ve rarely done before.

   
The quilting is somewhat spontaneous, a Kraken-like creature with movement and energy.

 
And the top, well, I love it’s frenetic, imperfect sponteneity. 

During the last 3 months of my pregnancy, I unexpectedly had some extra time on my hands. I used it to hand-cut and -piece 16 Farmer’s Wife blocks. Later, I combined them with extra elements into a baby quilt for some of our dearest friends’ first child. It finished at 37×39 inches, and I added a second layer of batting scraps to give it extra tummy-time softness. For the first time, I quilted the entire thing with my regular foot – and it did great! 

It is rare for me to work in all solids. These particular colors remind me of graphic novels – superheroes and anti-heroes and bold, grim realities in need of justice. Not coincidentally, our friends are comic fans, and artists, too. “Pow!” seemed like an apt title to reflect this, as well as the power and vigor of new baby life.

The little one was born a few days ago, so I hustled to get done. They live too far for us to visit easily, but this package is now on its way, carrying our love and joy with it! Looking forward to the day when we can all be together again – baby boys in tow!

After hoarding my stack of Alison Glass Handcrafted prints for a year or two, I finally cut into them. Ultimately, there is a twin-sized quilt in the works, but I couldn’t help making something lovely with the scraps! 

   
    
 
It started out as a chance to play with curved piecing and evolved from there. The colors remind me of a sunset over the ocean, and the white IKEA print roughly evokes the shore. I have a friend that quilts without using any special feet, so I thought I’d give it a go and see what came about. Interestingly, it was much easier than using my walking foot! I had fun experimenting with quilting designs, particularly McTavishing, which I only recently learned about. It creates such a sense of movement! The colorful side’s quilting reminds me of stingray egg sacs, or maybe stylized crab claws. When it came to binding, I realized there were no straight lines anywhere in the quilt. But that’s just like the natural world! So I made sure to apply the binding in an ever-so-slight wave. I used a scrap of batik from who-knows-where, and unintentionally, the more solid bits edged the more colorful part of the quilt. Altogether, I love my little experiment! She finishes at roughly 14×26 inches and hangs proudly among other favorite artworks.

This was a long time in the making. I started piecing it in 2009, my first patchwork quilt ever! It had been sitting, basted, in a drawer. I was hesitant to finish it because I have grown so much since then! All the fabric is super cheap, and the hand-piecing is awkward. I think the quilt even predates my use of rotary cutters!

   
   
Everything was so awkward I couldn’t imagine wrangling it under a machine to any success, so I turned to an old standby – hand-tying!

I don’t keep much cheap fabric around these days, but I had scraps of an old sheet that made a perfect binding.

   
 
Long ago this was meant to be a crib quilt. Our baby doesn’t actually sleep in a crib, though, so maybe it will be a floor mat? Those ties will be fun for Baby to grab during tummy time! I was being cheeky, too, with the dollar bills print, imagining I’d teach our children that money does grow on trees! Ha!

Quilt stats:

  • 39×58 inches
  • Hand-pieced
  • Hand-tied
  • Machine bound
  • Begun 2009, completed 2016

I love finishing something because I get so excited about the next things on my list! Can’t wait for the next finish!

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts’ Finish-it-up Friday!