300 Words about Quilting: Quilts and Children

Quilting and Children

QN invites you to share your quilt stories with other QN readers–in 300 words or less. If you have a quilt story that fits the topics listed at below–be it funny, sad, poignant, or anything in between–we want to hear from you. Send your story, its title, and your complete contact information to submissions@qnm.com. Write “300 Words” in the subject line.

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Quilts and family–September 15, 2011

How I got hooked on quilting–November 15, 2011  

It seemed like a good idea at the time: January 15, 2012

Why I love my quilt guild: March 15, 2012


Quilt Conversations

My daughter sprawled on the floor playing with wooden shapes. I burst through her concentration, gasping, “Freeze!” while tripping over the cat and leaping for our camera. I had started to think in quilts, and saw in the puzzle, the meat of a design that needed capturing before it shifted. She gave me a sideways stare then smiled when I explained, “I’m going to make a quilt out of that.”

I took her design idea to a weekend retreat where I layered yellow and brown piecework with bright accents of silk and thread. I returned with a finished piece, having anchored the white diamonds and yellow hexagons into a quilt complete with honeybees, bee skep and bursting sunflowers.

I have a child for whom words do not always come easily. When asked a question, she ponders and contemplates for such a long time one often believes she’s forgotten the inquiry. The demands on my patience and kindness often feel extreme yet she is just being herself. The complexities of this connection dissolve as we discuss quilts. She reveals a side of herself that is instinctive and decisive. She can look at a layout with confidence and quickly point out what’s working and what’s not, and then make suggestions toward higher contrast and greater movement.

Two years after binding the bee quilt, my daughter closed the circle of our quilt conversation. She brought home a drawing done in her school art class, which returned to the elemental shapes of diamonds and hexagons, complete with details of shading and stripes that talked to the quilt I had made. It showed me, without words, that she felt valued, seen and heard, which is all I could ask for as a mother.

Passing On The Torch


After sewing most of my life – from doll clothes to people clothes – I realized it was time to learn to quilt. That was more than 30 years ago. I had no idea how to go about making a quilt. I started with “cheater” cloth. I tied the quilts and learned that the smallest running stitches around a design on the fabric looked pretty. As the years passed, I found paper piecing was the way to go. It was fast and neat.

But no one in the family seemed the least bit interested in learning to quilt. Then last year, I found my 8-year-old great granddaughter Liana roaming around the house checking curtains, table toppers, wall hangings and the like. She suddenly blurted out that she wanted to learn to sew. Sew? Did I finally find an offspring with some of my genes?

Last September we started her lessons, beginning with simple things. She made her dad a pillow for his birthday. By Christmas, she'd finished a gift for each member of her family. There were more pillows and pillowcases. When she gained more confidence, she made fancy Christmas stockings with ribbons, laces and trims.

When Christmas passed, she announced to me that she wanted to make a quilt. Did I hear right? She wanted to quilt? She sure did. She is now beginning a foundation-pieced strip quilt of purple, lavender and pink – her favorite colors. I am thrilled with her progress, and I am ready to pass on the torch to a new generation.

Journey Of A 'Big-Boy' Quilt                                                                                                                                                                                                  NANCY VASE

When my son was about 5, he decided he wanted a "big boy" room complete with a new quilt that hung over the edge of his bed. He helped me choose fabrics and a pattern that wasn’t too childish, and soon he had his big boy quilt. Over the years, he loved to jump on the bed which popped some quilting threads. He could also be found curled up in front of the television with his dog, both wrapped in the big boy quilt, which led to a few doggy-claw holes. Later he enjoyed snacks while sitting on his bed, which meant pizza stains, cheese smears and other stains.
As he grew, he did homework sitting on his bed, so there were a few ink stains. As a teen, he moved to a bigger room in the basement, taking the quilt with him.

The day finally came when he was moving across town to his own place. As he was packing his possessions, I took the big boy quilt from the laundry, folded it and took it to him saying, "Don’t you want to take this too?" He turned to me and his eyes widened as he saw it. "Oh Mom, you have to keep it safe here. If I take it with me something might happen to it."

He’s a good boy.

A Special Birthday Quilt                                                                                                                                                                                                        SHERRY ALEXANDER

During spring break before my only granddaughter’s sixth birthday, I asked her if she would like to help me choose fabric from my stash for her birthday quilt. My stash is extensive. I live in the mountains and it’s quite a trip to the shops, so when I buy, I buy groupings of fabric and enough for quilts. Daphne was excited about the new experience. She was going to design her quilt and she was just 5 years old.

We discussed how she would like the quilt to look. She saw one of my quilts hanging on the railing beside where she slept that had a scalloped border and she wanted that. I had given her a scrap of an antique quilt with half-square triangles for a doll quilt. She loved it so her quilt needed those. We looked at my stash and she chose fabric she liked. We talked about how much fabric we would need for the backing and borders and that we would have to use the largest cuts for those. We placed fabrics together to select the ones for the half-square triangles.
Daphne left at the end of her vacation week, trusting me to put it all together by her birthday. On the label I wrote “Design and fabric selection by Daphne, pieced and quilted by Gram.” A wonderful memory!

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