Four Kids, Four Quilts

Today marks the beginning of the Blogger’s Quilt Festival at Amy’s Creative Side, an online showcase of quilts from all around the internet and the world. As participants, we bloggers are to write a post about, well, quilts. And what those quilts, and quilting in general, has meant to us. So, here they are. My favorite quilts, the significance they hold for me, and what they have taught me about quilting and about myself.

I’m actually writing about four quilts. It’s not that I couldn’t choose one, it’s that all four were made for one particular purpose, and thus I lump them together in my mind, and I’m lumping them together in my post. I decided a year ago to make a quilt for each of my children’s birthdays, and after many, many sleepless nights and thousands of stitches, I reached my goal.

Sorry about the pictures. They’re not fantastic, but I wanted to show you the children as much as I wanted to show you the quilts. Besides, if you’ve been following my blog (and you HAVE, haven’t you???), you’ve already seen them anyway. What you haven’t seen is the look on my children’s faces when they cuddle up with their “blankies.” Actually, I’m continually surprised by how much they love their quilts. When I made them, I was actually very prepared for the disappointment they might feel when they opened their present from me and found only a blanket inside; I was prepared for them to toss the quilts aside and reach to open the next biggest package. What I wasn’t prepared for was how they would actually stop, and feel, and hold, and appreciate their quilts. They’re small children, after all, none older than four at the time. So I wasn’t expecting how much they would talk about their blankies, drag them around the house, and even vigorously defend them from one another. And this surprise taught me something about quilting.

When we quilt, we pay a lot of attention to the fundamental components of any art; color, shape, form, construction, etc. We spend hours choosing the right fabric, the right template, and the right stitch length. We labor to keep our points sharp and to make all our seams line up. And it’s not that those things don’t matter. We take pride in our work, and well we should. But even if our seams are perfect and our binding is flawless, the real significance of our countless hours of work is that one day, someone is going to sleep under what we’ve made. Someone is going to hold it and know that it was made for them and only them, and every stitch was done with them in mind. When I look at my children, snuggled night after night under the blankies I made for them, I realize that this is a big deal. This is huge. We, as quilters, are making art that is infinitely complicated, yet utterly practical and unmistakeably personal. This is art, and it should be appreciated as such, but it’s also the backdrop for bedtime stories. It is art that cushions and comforts, that warms new babies and old souls alike. It’s art that houses dreams and makes a house a home. Even little children understand that. I think maybe they understood that better than me. My children, when they received their quilts, never had to be told that their blankies were special. They knew exactly what they were getting, and they knew that they were getting the quilts because they are special, too.

Whenever I search the blogging world and see pictures of stunning quilts made lovingly as gifts, finished and ready to be handed over to their rightful owners, it takes my breath away. In what other field can one give someone something that is as beautiful as a painting or sculpture but is meant to be used every day, to be worn down by use and by love. What other art, instead of producing items meant only to be seen or heard, produces something whose sole purpose, whose very reason for existence, is to be touched. What other art form allows us to literally envelope our loved ones in warmth, a kind of distanced embrace, whenever they fall asleep?

Quilting is unique in that respect. It’s undeniably art, but rather than focusing on a concept, or a process, it focuses on a person. We pay great attention to our points and our seams, but somewhere, beneath all of that, we’re loving someone, whether it’s a baby, a friend, a relative, or ourselves. My children, and the imperfect quilts that I struggled so hard to finish on time, have shown me that this type of work comes with a sense of fulfillment that continues far beyond a quilt’s completion and long into its use. No matter how perfect or imperfect our quilts are, we, as quilters, are not only making quilts; we are actually creating warmth and comfort and putting them to use every single day.

Thank you for reading, and for following along in the quilt festival. Sorry for the long-windedness; I do love quilts and quilting. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. Bless you if you’ve made it this far, and thank you for visiting!

60 Responses to “Four Kids, Four Quilts”

  1. 1 Leah May 21, 2010 at 4:46 am

    YES! They are art, but also such sources of comfort and joy…

  2. 2 AJ May 21, 2010 at 5:11 am

    I love kids wrapped in quilts! Yours are cute…kids and quilts!

  3. 3 Leslie May 21, 2010 at 5:29 am

    you said all of that so beautifully!!! your quilts are gorgeous.

  4. 4 sunt May 21, 2010 at 6:44 am

    A wonderful post all round–the quilts, your thoughts, and your children! Right from the heart is best, no? 🙂

  5. 5 Sandie May 21, 2010 at 10:54 am

    My grown children cherish each quilt the same as your babes. It’s a magical thing, and you said it beautifully!

  6. 6 Melissa C May 21, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Beautiful quilts and beautifully said.

  7. 7 Valentina May 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I am crying as I read this, because it echoes deep inside my heart…
    That’s what it is all about ! and I am so happy to find someone who gets it and is able to so eloquently give it a voice!
    thank YOU!
    Valentina from Cyprus

  8. 8 Michelle May 21, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Your quilts are lovely, and the pictures of your children enjoying their quilts brought a big smile to my face. But your essay on the subject simply blew me away. You’ve managed to capture the essence of what we do and why we do it in words. Thank you!

  9. 9 Carol Hansen May 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Your story is great. I made fairly simple quilts for each of my children when they were young. My oldest has worn hers out (literally).

  10. 10 Andrea May 21, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    This is a great artists statement.

  11. 11 Meg May 21, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    With no children of my own, I make quilts as gifts for other people and their children. Seeing someone’s face when they’re receiving one is really all the inspiration I need to keep doing what I do.

    Your post was beautiful, as are your quilts and your children. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  12. 12 Jocelyn May 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Very cute! I love that last picture. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  13. 13 anna May 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Lovely post about some very special quilts. I love making quilts for others- At first, when I gave them away it was hard because it felt like I was giving away a bit of myself. They are all a labor of love especially those given to our loved ones.
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful story.
    I hope you have many visitors to your blog. Enjoy the festival.
    Regards from a Western Canadian quilter,

  14. 14 Sue H. May 21, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    So well said!!! Thank you so much for sharing your story and your quilts (and your gorgeous kids).

    Regards, Sue

  15. 15 Kristen May 21, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    What a proud momma. I love making for mine too. Thanks for sharing.

  16. 16 kwiltmakr May 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    What a lovely family and a lovely post. There is nothing quite like a quilt. Well said!

  17. 17 dolly May 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Oh, my !
    No…….this is the best post I have read during today’s festival !

    May I please borrow this phrase?…..
    “What other art form allows us to literally envelope our loved ones in warmth, a kind of distanced embrace, whenever they fall asleep?”…….Four Kids, Four Quilts

    I want to headline it on my blog as it sums up my feelings for the quilts I’ve just made and sent to my grandchildren so far away !

    Thank you ! If I don’t hear from you, I will use your words and cherish them……the whole post just brought me to tears !
    Bless YOU !

  18. 18 Danica May 21, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    I love the story that goes along with your quilts. It is something that I want to do for my children as well. I’m currently working on a quilt for my daughter and am glad that she should be able to appreciate it when I complete it (though it may take her awhile to be able to share that with me ;)).

  19. 19 Emma May 21, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    What a lovely and well-expressed story. It’s probably unconsciously why I’ve been working on snuggle quilts for my own children this week, instead of those on my pressing to-do list!

  20. 20 Allie May 21, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Not only do I love your quilts – and your gorgeous children – I love this post. If I wasn’t so comfortable in my recliner I’d stand and applaud. WELL SAID!

  21. 21 Laurel H. May 21, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    What very special quilts. LOVE the one with the baby girl!

  22. 23 karen May 22, 2010 at 6:33 am

    Iknow exactly what you mean. My 4yo son loves his quilts and yes he gets it too. He is my pin asistant. he loves taking out the pins when I get to them but being aboy he loves hitting the gas pedal too. Thank heavens for speed control!

  23. 24 Kim May 22, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Very well said! Your quilts (and children!) are all lovely, but the words you wrote about the art of quilting touched my heart. Thank you so much for this post.

  24. 25 Mary May 22, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Nicely done. Written, sewn, and raising.
    It makes my heart sing when I see quilts I have given used everyday. If given to a baby I want that quilt a tattered rag by the time they don’t need it any longer. Then I will happily make them a new one.

  25. 26 Stephanie May 22, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Cute kids and quilts!!!

  26. 27 Kathy L May 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Nice quilts, great kids! They are a perfect match for each other. There’s nothing better than when a recipient of your quilting efforts loves and uses the quilt you’ve given them. Congratulations on such a well written post.

  27. 28 Kim May 22, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Your kids are adorable. Your quilts look beautiful.

  28. 29 Marit May 23, 2010 at 5:47 am

    The best quilts are the ones that gets used, and loved – by your loved ones!
    ; )

  29. 30 Frauke May 23, 2010 at 11:58 am

    THANK YOU so much for sharing your thoughts about quilts. That’s sooo true. I do lots of wallhangings – but the quilts that meant most to me were those that were meant to be used. Take care + keep quilting !!

  30. 31 Alia May 23, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Wow. That was truly eloquent and beautiful. I feel the same way. It breaks my heart when a quilt is given and not appreciated. That has happened to me. Made me a bit reticent to give again. However, my babies are 14 and 11 and they LOVE all their quilts. It was the nicest feeling to finish some projects within a years time recently and they bickered over who got to take which one. They were both for ‘me’. I am happy to see the quilts on their new beds.

    Thank you for your beautiful words!

  31. 32 Sandi May 23, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Your post really summed up what makes quilts so special. Thank you for that. I few blogs back on the Blogger’s quilt show, I saw a beautiful red, white and blue quilt that she’d made but was afraid to put on her bed. I hope she sees your post and it helps her find the courage to use the quilt.

  32. 33 Diane May 23, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    the kids and quilts are precious!

  33. 34 Amy - parkcitygirl May 23, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Beautiful quilts and pictures! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  34. 35 Celine May 23, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Thanks for your post; this IS the true essence of quilts, an embrace, protection and joy. The birth of my daughter prompted me to sew her first quilt (It only took 3 months!) It is the quilt Im showcasing for this quilt show. Thank you for stating beautifully what I was thinking when I made my daughters quilt and what thousands of women have been stitching into their quilts for generations.

  35. 36 Tammy May 24, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Ahhh, Darla! You quilt just like I do…with specific people in mind and a heart full of love!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 Your kids (and quilts) are adorable and I’ll forewarn you that they’ll grow up much too quickly!

    Tammy ~@~
    Garden Glimpses

  36. 37 Sally May 24, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Agreed on all counts! Your quilts are beautiful and obviously well-loved; kudos to you for knowing what counts.

  37. 38 Janet May 24, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Absolutely beautiful. You have really touched my heart. As a mom of four who has also made quilts for each of my kids, I relate to this post so much. There is nothing better than the pleasure of knowing something I made with so much love is being well- used and makes the recipient feel so loved.

  38. 39 Rosie May 25, 2010 at 6:18 am

    What a lovely post! I’m about to start a quilt to donate to my local prison Christmas toy collection (yes, I know it’s May but I’ve yet to actually finish a quilt yet so am giving myself plenty of time!) and it’s just this that I’m hoping to achieve in donating a hand made quilt rather than a Barbie from Kmart – I hope the little girl that gets my quilt feels some of the sense of specialness that you’ve descibed for your children even though it will be from someone she doesn’t know.

  39. 40 Shelly Pagliai May 25, 2010 at 7:03 am

    A great post . . . well said. Quilts really are truly special gifts. So is the talent for making them . . . You’ve done good!

  40. 41 Denise May 25, 2010 at 7:50 am

    great quilts, and beautiful family!

  41. 42 Petra May 25, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Love this post, and the pictures!! Me too I would have thought that kids would have tossed their gift aside to reach for the next big box… it is wonderful that your children are so appreciative!!

  42. 43 Randi May 25, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    What precious quilts & children!

  43. 45 georgie May 26, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    My daughter loves her quilt and was delighted when I finshed it and my son who never slept under a blanket or a sheet from the day he was born just can’t live without his quilt so much so I’m thinking of making a spare one!
    Happy quilting.
    Georgie x

  44. 46 May 26, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Well said! Lovely quilts and cute kids, too 🙂

  45. 47 LizzyM May 27, 2010 at 12:33 am

    What a thoughtful and thought-inspiring post. And what lovely children and quilts! Thanks so much for sharing.

  46. 48 Beth Patrick May 31, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I understand your happiness when your kids loved their quilts. I have made quilts for my grandkids – none over 7 – and they loved them! To see their happiness makes up for all the long hours, doesn’t it?!

    Just to see that smile on their face — that’s all the reward I want.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Beth in Dallas

  47. 49 Leila May 31, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    You describe the art of a quilt so beautifully, very moving and so true!
    Thanks for sharing your lovely children and their precious quilts.

  48. 50 suchele May 31, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Well loved quilts are the best kind!!

  49. 51 Sherri June 5, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I truly loved reading this post. Your thoughts and sentiments on quilting as the most unique art form are so well-thought out and expressed beautifully. Thanks for such an inspiring post!

  50. 52 Vivian June 6, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Kim from Magnolia Bay Quilts sent me your way, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss your entry in the Quilt Festival. (there are so MANY this time).
    Your children & your quilts are beautiful, and we share the same thoughts about giving away quilts. But I couldn’t explain it as well as you have. Well said! and so true!

  51. 53 Teresa Marler June 6, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    I loved your thoughts about quilts. Quilts hold special places in our hearts. I just found out tonight that I’m going to be getting a double wedding ring top that my grandma hand pieced. Her neice has had it for years and wants to get rid of it.

  52. 54 AnnieO June 7, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    You have beautiful children! Thank you for writing that lovely tribute to the craft so many of us love and devote so much time to, for exactly the reasons you say. I always want my quilts to be used and loved and dragged around and slept under so that my love that is stitched into every inch can seep out. I don’t think I could ever make a show quilt that will only hang on a wall, even if I appreciate all the work that went into it! Thank you for sharing your quilts’ stories 🙂

  53. 55 Pat June 11, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    I wanted to ask your permission to print out your post and take it to my next guild meeting. I head the local Quilts for Kids chapter and think your message is more inspiring than anything I could say about how much a quilt can mean to a child.

    Thank-you so much for sharing your thoughts and helping each of us stop for a moment and realize what we do, and why we do it.

    • 56 everydaychaos June 11, 2010 at 1:01 pm

      Pat, of course you have my permission. Please tell the sewers in your local QFK chapter thank you for what they do, too. My son received a quilt, through the child life program at our hospital, from a woman who participates in your program when he was in the hospital last Spring. It was so, so nice for him (and for me) to have something to look at and cuddle up under that was just his and was bright and fun and not all hospital-ey. It has bug fabric and a farm scene on it, and I remember sitting and talking about it with him. He still has it, and plays with it, today. You all do important work, and it’s very, very much appreciated.

  54. 58 sewpam63 June 24, 2010 at 11:42 am

    A quilt is stitched with love. Always. Beautiful post, fabulous quilts, gorgeous children! Give them a squeeze from me! Thank you for sharing. : )

  1. 1 Blogger’s Quilt Festival – Spring 2010 » Amy's Creative Side Trackback on July 25, 2010 at 5:08 pm
  2. 2 Moving On: The Sewing World in 2010 and My Hopes for 2011 « Everyday Chaos Trackback on December 28, 2010 at 10:27 am

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Chaos. Everyday.

Four kids. Two parents. Everyday life. Stop in often for new updates, crafts we've been working on, and a journal of life with four kids age five and under.

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