At my very first baby shower in 1995, I was given a baby quilt for my son, Bennett, that was made up of individual squares -each embroidered and appliqued by someone in his family or close friends. It has the sweetest farm animal theme complete with one square of an applique of Papa’s red barn.
A year or so later, my good friend delivered her daughter, Annie Caroline, at only 26 weeks gestation. It was such a difficult time for Annie and their family as you can imagine, now, through God’s grace, Annie is a healthy, beautiful and energetic 13 year old.
But as their journey began and while my friend and her family traveled for months to be with their daughter in San Francisco, I organized a similar friends and family quilt for Annie.
I printed out written requests to send to my friend’s family and those close to her asking them to each make one quilt square each. I specified a a 1″ seam allowance around a square image area of 9 inches. I included for each an 11″ square of white cotton fabric when I mailed the requests, but encouraged everyone to come up with anything they’d like to send, as long as it was to size. I knew there would be a good chance that this would be a wall hanging, so fabric content wasn’t a big concern.
One of the wonderful things about this particular project is that friends and family living outside the area could participate in the quilt. You may notice the Hawaiian block sent from Annie’s aunt living in Hawaii. One block was cut from a special bedspread that was sent by Annie’s grandmother, one was a blue jean pocket with embroidery, one a vintage hankie folded into a bonnet and sewn to the square. There was a machine embroidered square from the one that didn’t sew and even the sweet embroidered images of fruit cut from the t-shirt of Annie’s cousin.
For the square I made, I created a little girl applique out of various fabrics and finished her off with embroidery floss hair. Please pardon the blurry images, these photos were scanned from pre-digital-camera photos. I would’ve asked my friend for photos, but I figure since Annie’s 13, there’s a pretty good chance that this quilt’s been tucked away.
Once I received all the squares, I added strips of calico fabric and quilted the pieces together, including two squares with Annie’s name and birth information at the top, and backing it with another calico fabric. Once finished, the quilt was presented to my friend at her after-baby baby-shower.
This was one of the most wonderful projects I’ve ever been a part of. If you think you would like to facilitate a gift like this, just be sure to give everyone participating plenty of time to create their squares. And to those that just simply do not sew, give them the option to send a piece of fabric that they think might be meaningful and offer to stitch their name or sentiment onto it for them.
And remember, a friends & family quilt isn’t just for babies. This would be a wonderful gift of comfort for a friend who may be going through cancer treatment, a lap quilt for a grandparent, and so much more.