Tuesday, March 01, 2011


I have never been a collector of anything specific. Even as a child I never had a "thing" that people would send me, adding to my collection- no themed decor, jewelry or ceramic figurines, thank heavens. Most collections seem superfluous or trite to me. However, a few years ago I came to the conclusion that if I were to collect anything, it would be quilts. All quilts, any quilts.
Years before that, Shell and I had enumerated all of the reasons that make quilts so wonderful, and pretty much the perfect gift. Let me share: they are beautiful, first of all. They are practical- who doesn't use blankets? They are practical, functional art. They also take a tremendous, tremendous amount of time, making it a true gift of the maker's time. They are a gift of talent, as nice quilts are not easy to make. They are also heirlooms- quilts are handed down through generations and tell the story of the quilter. They are imbued with history, heritage, love and hard work. Old quilts tell of thrift, ingenuity, art and sometimes hardship. What is not to love?
To summarize, quilts are:
A gift of time, talent, and expense (they're not cheap to make!)
I love old quilts, the kinds you find in antique malls, and new quilts made with today's amazing variety of available prints. There has never been a better time to be a fabric-lover.
I have a small collection started.

From top to bottom:
Lap quilt, made by me; Baby clothes quilt, made by me; Baby quilt, made by Michelle; Twin-size quilt, made by Michelle, Queen-size bed quilt, made by Nana.

First, the bed quilt that Nana made for us when we got married. We have this on our bed under our coverlet, so I use it and see it everyday. I love it because we use it, it was made for our wedding, and for the extraordinary detail. 

Look how small that square is, and her seams always match! She is an extraordinary quilter in that regard. Sometimes I just marvel at those tiny corners and how they always seem to line up.

I think this lap quilt might be the first one that I actually finished, even though I started my first quilt literally 14 years ago. That quilt is still unfinished, but it is so close. It is over a king size, and while I machine-pieced it, I was determined to do the actual quilting by hand on my first quilt. Hence, 14 years later I am still working on it. I only have about 1 foot of quilting left, after which I have to bind it and I'll be done! I really want to finish it this year. It's about time.
Anyway, I think this lap quilt is the first I finished. I made another one for my mom.

I love lap quilts because they're quick and small enough that I can quilt it on my machine. (Anything over a crib size has got to be sent out for the quilting.)

This baby clothes quilt is one of my favorites for sentimental purposes. I think a quilt is the perfect medium for sentimentality.

I love that most of these clothes were worn by both Bella and Fiona, and some of them were even gifts for Lola, so all 3 girls share these clothes. There are only one or two items that were worn by only one girl, so it feels like their shared heritage. A couple of them were even worn by Eva! One day I had a friend over while I was cutting the clothes and she was about to have either a panic attack or a heart attack at my taking shears to my baby's clothes. I felt the exact opposite- what good would these do, stuffed into boxes and stored in a dark attic? I would never see them and probably never use them again. However, in this quilt I see them often. Almost every day we get to remember, touch and cuddle with these baby clothes. I saved just my favorite, or ones whose details I thought lent themselves to this type of quilt. All the rest I gave to friends, with just a couple saved to pass down to my girls.
I love the details on baby clothes and on this quilt.

{This was a favorite corduroy sleeveless romper both of the girls wore.}

{From Paris}

{Adorable footie butt-ruffle pants, given to Bella by Denise and Grandma, and worn by both girls.}

{Eva's, from Paris}

{Butterflies and toile, both from Paris}

{This was a baby shower gift for Lola, given to me by one of my old Young Women leaders.}

{Favorite elephant jammies}

It was a little bit tricky because of the mix of cottons and jerseys, but luckily my mother-in-law Nana was visiting and helped me with that part. She also taught me to tie it, since I had never done it before. (In general, I prefer quilting to tying, but this quilt lent itself to tying, and I'm very pleased with the finished product.

I love this one too. I love them all-thus my desire to collect them- but I love them all for different reasons. I love them because of who made them, when and why they made them, the materials they used, and the use they get. I love this one because it was beautifully made by Michelle, but it is also sentimental.

She started it when I was pregnant with Lola, but didn't give it to me until she came to visit after Fiona's birth. While this might cause her embarrassment, I am glad she finished it when she did. After the birth of all 3 of my girls, she was able to quilt all of their names on the border, one on each side, with 'sweet dreams' quilted on the 4th side. So the sentimentality factor makes it that much more meaningful to me.

{Lola Jane}

This one was also skillfully made by Michelle, for my dorm room my first semester at BYU. I think it is the most stunning of my quilts. At the time we both really liked star motifs. I still do. I'm pretty sure I asked her outright to make me one, which again, is quite a gift of time, talent, and money. I used it on my bed until I got married.

I love the scalloped quilting design.

Why must you torment me, mitered corners?!

Finally, another in-the-works quilt I started about 10 years ago as a student at BYU. I remember I saw a page in the Company Store catalog. The product featured was a set of sheets, but on the bed was this kind of crazy log cabin quilt. It was the first time I'd seen a design like that and vowed to make one. I wanted it to be full of bright, mismatched prints which I clearly achieved.

Although I still have all my materials cut to size and organized by color, this one is still far from done. I imagine my girls will love it when it is finished.

One thing I love about quilts is the beauty of the individual fabrics and the collective whole. On this quilt in particular, there are plenty of prints that individually, I would never use. Taken separately I would think some of them quite ugly. However, pieced together they create a rich tapestry of color and geometry. I love the sheer number of prints I used on this one and holding it, exploring and identifying each one.

It's also as close to improvisational quilting as I've gotten, although I still want to learn that technique as well.

While I don't think they count towards my collection, I also made these two doll quilts-previously featured-for my girls.

Lastly, there's the lap quilt I made for my grandpa this Christmas. I love this one for sentimental purposes as well. It's made from my dear grandmother's favorite and oft-worn aprons, house dress and robe. I love identifying each one as something she wore for years and typifies her to anyone who knew her intimately. I also love that her things could continue to bring him some comfort, now almost a year since her death. I'll say it again, quilts are the perfect medium for sentimentality.

So there is my fledgling quilt collection, made by those I love, and a few I made for those I love as well.

If someone has ever made you a quilt, know that they really love you. 
It is a gift of love.
And beauty.


michelle said...

There are so many reasons why quilts make the best gifts! And great collectibles. It's so fun to see them all like this. I wish I had thought to make a baby clothes quilt...

I've been itching to make a quilt lately.

rmt said...

Oh my goodness! I love so many of them, I'm not even going to try...

The baby clothes one makes me want to cry! I don't often feel sentimental, but seeing it was one of those "I wish I'd thought of that" moments. (Not that I have the skills...but, you know.)

Also, the one Michelle made with your girls names quilted in! Love that so much. So precious.

{natalie} said...

i love piecing the tops but i am really bad at getting around to quilting them all together. i have made 3 quilts that are done and i have one that still needs to be quilted. i think i sent you a pic of that one.

i love the doll quilts you made. especially the most recent one. i want to make one like that. it's awesome.

i love that your quilts all have a story or reason why you have them.

now i want to start another quilt.

Susan said...

So many beautiful specimens! I think quilting in such a lovely and skilled talent. I like all your reasons for loving it!

I love reviewing your completed quilts and designs...and, to go along with it, your new banner! Beautifully done.

I can't wait to see the one you will complete for the girl's new room.

Anonymous said...

The baby clothes one is my favorite. It is just so genius and cute and the right kind of sentimental. I have often thought of collecting quilts, and now that i have made one start to finish, I think I will appreciate it even more.

Those damn corners are so hard for me!

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