Archive of ‘special quilts’ category

the long-lost baby clothes quilt!

baby clothes quilt


last december I had the chance to work on two memory quilts for a wonderful family and I completely forgot to blog about it.  so, while it’s not exactly quilting season I thought I would still share.  they wanted one quilt for their family and one for their little one’s grandmother, which is so sweet. can you see that peak of the hospital blanket up there?  seeing those blankets always gets me choked up!

baby clothes quilt by a happy stitch

I had so much fun making these quilts.  everything was labelled with exactly when it had been worn and so I felt like I really got an idea of this little persons world, which is always so helpful when I’m making one of these quilts!  as if I am an honorary and part-time family member piecing together the story of a childhood. removable duck on baby clothes quilt

{hello ducky!}

the best thing about the quilt I was making for grandma is that it was going to be given to her for Christmas along with a book of pictures of the wee one wearing these clothes!  wouldn’t that just blow you away as a grandparent!  so thoughtful.

giraffe hat on baby quilt by a happy stitchI get lots of questions about these quilts and I know that a lot of people are eager to make them for their own.  which is so wonderful!  if you can quilt, you can make a memory quilt!  my favorite tip is that I always put apply fusible lightweight interfacing to the back of each square or rectangle.  it helps the pieces hold their shape and make the sewing easier.  it adds a lot of time to the quilt making but it’s worth it…especially since once you get sewing you will be working with many different kinds of fabric, you need everything as stable as it can be! I hope that is helpful.

dolores’ quilts

I’m a lucky gal…because I get to do what I get to do.  and, for the past month or so that has been making four very special quilts for the four sons of a woman named dolores.  she passed away recently after a long battle and to remember her, her youngest son John, asked me to make the quilts for all the brothers out of her most precious clothes.

included in the quilts are christmas sweaters, a swimsuit, scarves, summer tank tops, cozy sweaters and even a flow-y top from a trip to vegas….and more than its fair share of memories.

thanks John for a great opportunity!  (please ignore my chaotic house in the background! yikes!)

lovely lola’s special quilt

I got an amazing opportunity to make a beautiful quilt for a foot-stomping, pigtailed, twirling, dancing, smiling friend.  she’s perfectly adorable and 2.  the quilt is made from her most important clothes from her first few years of life.  it reflects her polish-italian background and even includes part of a halloween costume and bits of her favorite hats.

I had so much fun making this quilt for lovely little lola. it’s always such an honor making these baby clothes quilts.  for lola, I spent lots of time incorporating ruffles and pleats and designs from the special shirts.  I hadn’t met lola while I was making the quilt but when I met her friendly and feisty self I felt like I already knew her.  it might have just been how amazingly bright and bouncy she is but I think it also had to do with the fact that her most precious clothes sat in my studio and lap for a good length of time.  a little something must have rubbed off.

all I know is that when he dad picked her up with one hand, tipped her upside down and called her a monkey I thought to myself that seems about right.  as if I knew! but, it seemed like I did know.  crazy as it sounds. I know that I was trusted with something pretty precious and I hope I did it justice. it can get a little emotional…the whole handing over really special baby clothes thing…for everyone including me.

but, we all left happy.

two very special quilts for two very special girls

for a while, I’ve been wanting to begin making specialty quilts out of the super-special baby clothes that otherwise stay stowed away somewhere…too special to get rid off but without any real plan for what to do with them.  this last month,  I was blessed with an amazing opportunity to do just that for dear friends.  they came over with three sacks of clothing….one filled with the precious clothing worn by their oldest daughter from her baby/toddler days; one bag of the same worn by their youngest daughter; and one worn by both.  these were the items they couldn’t part with.  the ones that it was impossible to put into the ‘give away’ or ‘donate’ pile.  the clothes that instantly conjure up a sharp memory, smell, or moment from those fleeting baby days.  and, rather than sit in a bag in her closet, she brought them to me so I could turn them into two quilts.  one for each girl.

I love these two girls. I mean I LOVE THEM.  I’ve known them since their days in the womb and I remember some of these clothes myself.  making these quilts was emotional for mom and dad but also for me.  it was not lost on me that I was trusted with something really precious.  as I sat sewing away, the quilts in my lap,  slowly transforming them into something so much more than just fabric scraps I could get a bit, ahem, emotional.

to make them, I started by cutting squares (and in some cases rectangles) out of the clothing and then using interfacing to stabilize anything that needed it, like the jersey knits.  there were also some special requests like incorporating socks in some way, sewing on some special buttons and adding in a tassle from the top of a hooded jacket.

 it took a long time to decide on layout and design, which happens to be the part I enjoy the most.  for the older sister’s quilt I clustered some of the rectangular squares in the middle and discovered that the wording taken from her special clothes provided a sort of definition: ‘big sister’; ‘inspired’; ‘sweet, smart, and sassy’; and a characteristic apple from one of her sweatshirts.  all together, the quilt started to look like her.  I took a little moment for some happy tears when I realized this (told you…emotional).  the other quilt came together in a similarly weepy manner.

after that, it was just piecing it all together and quilting it (stitching in the ditch). and, there you have it…time capsules in quilt form:


complete with tiny socks, beach wrap snippet, a scrap of a special dress from a first birthday, an important sweater, teeny-tiny jean pockets even bits from tights.


the funny thing is, while these quilts capture pieces from the fleeting baby days, I saw more of the future when I watched the girls react to seeing them for the first time.  as they giggled, pretended to fall asleep, and jumped up to point at things they recognized in the quilt, they suddenly looked so big.   and the days of onesies and swaddling blankets seemed so far behind.  and, SO MANY amazing and incredible moments seem just up ahead.

are you interesting in having one of these made for your little but getting big people?  if you are, get in touch and check out the specialty quilts page for information.


the year 2011

sometimes a blog post is like an imaginary friend.  it’s living and breathing and writing itself in my head for so long that I actually start to think that I’ve written it already.  but when I sit down to actually write it all my ideas are scattered and my attention span is short and….well, it doesn’t happen.

this is one of those posts.  I’m late in writing it because, even though it is already written imaginar-ily, it’s a breathtaking reflection for me.

how to begin to look back at the year 2011?

I’ll start with numbers:

1 conventional job left behind

1 home life and 2 small boys with lots more mama time

1 website created and 8,003 html codes gone wrong

9 sewing classes taught to a revolving ragtag group of 28 amazing people (and growing!)

at least 10 sewing machines newly nestled into to the homes of that ragtag group

28 new, crafty, creative friends to obsess about sewing with

2 craft fairs

2 very special quilts

100 cups of coffee, 145 (or so) yards of fabric and 310 (approximately) spools of thread

here it is in pictures:

work hard, sew hard max.quilt.sneakpeek            

thanks so much to everyone that made 2011 a stupendous year.  every single person that has waltzed through my classes has not only been a natural sewer but also become a friend.  you all make the *work* behind a happy stitch worth it. I’m guessing there are easier ways to make new friends but none are nearly as fun as this.

2012 is already swinging with an incredible skirt class under foot and a bag, beginner, and superhero cape class up ahead.  plus, I got a few soon-to-be-revealed sewing goals in mind as well. maybe you will want to join me with those? huh? huh?


the love ambush

my husband and i first wandered into the world of parenting like one of those freaky friday-type movies when a teenager wakes up to find they are ceo.  we had no idea what we were doing.  i’m still a bit perplexed by how we could be so completely blindsided by the whole thing. i was older than both my siblings and took care of them a lot.  we both had friends with babies. shouldn’t we have a better idea what we were supposed to be doing!?

i remember wishing that the pediatrician was coming home with us from the hospital.  um, he didn’t. he let us take the screaming, pooping, totally dependent little person home with us and nobody was even supervising the whole operation!

“you got a car seat? great, you are good to go!”

i’ve had time sheets given more scrutiny.

as we stumbled blindly through–amazed on a daily basis that we all remained alive–we slowly amassed the community of people essential to surviving the ride.  one of those people was our daycare provider, sandi.  she has the gentle nature that makes it possible for a sleep-deprived, work-stressed, over-caffeinated, crying jag-prone parent to hear, ‘yes indeed. your child is hungry. you are not feeding him enough and you need to supplement with formula even though you are fiercely dedicated to breastfeeding.’   huh.

for nearly two years, she was the one that let us ride off to work without worrying or feeling guilty. when our second child came along, we were excited to get to see her again on a daily basis.  she and her staff became nothing short of co-parents with us.

so, it was a bittersweet moment in the late summer when it came time for our youngest to move on out of her care. it meant we were moving on from miss sandi.  and, i knew i couldn’t let it happen without doing something special.  so, i got in touch with as many parents as i could and we made her a quilt. one quilt square for each child.


i rented out the space i use for my sewing classes for a one-day ‘make a quilt square’ event. and then dropped supplies off around town for a half-dozen more.  after a small bit of nagging and email hounding i gathered up all the quilt squares and started making the quilt. we’d already arranged the meet-up with her, so i had just a few days. i had to bust it out!


{even the cat helped a bit}

in the end, we made a quilt for her with squares from 24 kids and 17 different families. stitches and fabric from a sample of the kids and families she has loved over the past few years.  look at that quilt! it’s amazing! what if those kids all grow up and stay in this community and this little bit of time in their lives is still there on this quilt? it’s like a time capsule. the quilt has bits of fabric from special blankets, favorite type of toys and songs represented, the things that are special and amazing about each kid stitched together.

we intended to throw her a surprise picnic. i told her that my family wanted to meet up with her for bagels at the park.  really, 8-10 families planned to meet at the park and surprise her…let the kids play in the park while we snacked and chatted and gave her the quilt.

and, of course, it rained like crazy that day.  sandi and her husband were stranded in long island with water flooding the roads. but they got up at something like 4am to drive back FOR A SMALL GATHERING AT OUR HOUSE. they really did.  the roads were treacherous and rather than cancel they drove because she didn’t want disappoint my boys.  meanwhile, our house was filling up with kids and parents and food waiting for her.  and, that is when we (as one mom described it) love ambushed her.  she arrived…unshowered, tired, expecting a relaxing brunch with 4 people.  she was greeted by about 10 kids screaming SHE’S HERE!! then came the crowd and the food and the quilt.  it was a bit much i think.  there were some tears and a (respected) request for no close up pictures.  was it nice, what we did? i’m not sure.  but, it was well-intended. it was a love ambush after all, not just an ambush.  just an awkward way to say ‘thanks. you are amazing.’  thanks sandi. you are amazing.

%d bloggers like this: