A Quilt for Carolina

The calendar tells me it is January of 2016. However, I cannot quite let go of Christmas 2015 yet – at least not until I share the story of the small quilt I made for the newest member of our family.

A quilt for Carolina

Dear little Carolina was born in April, and it was then that I began to plan the quilt I knew I would make for her first Christmas. I had done the same for her big sister, Aida, two years ago.

This is the quilt I made for Aida two Christmases ago.

This is the quilt I made for Aida two Christmases ago.

Once we knew what her name was (Carolina is pronounced like the American states, North and South Carolina, with a long “I”), it seemed an easy decision to anchor each corner of the quilt with a “Carolina lily.” Here is a classic Carolina lily quilt square:

A quilt for Carolina

However, there are a ga-zillion variations of this design, and because I don’t enjoy “piecing,” I designed a block with an appliquéd lily, set in a blue pot. I thought I would tie these blocks together with rows of undulating vines, as seen in the first image above.  And then I got stuck. I wanted to draw on some of the design features in Aida’s quilt, but make it look entirely different. Initially I thought I’d like the great middle field of this quilt to be of a “random” nature similar to this quilt pictured in one of my books:

This quilt is pictured in Crib Quilts and Other Small Wonders, by Thos. K. Woodrd and Blanche Greenstein, E. P. Dutton, New York, New York, 1981, p. 16.

This quilt is pictured in Crib Quilts and Other Small Wonders, by Thos. K. Woodard and Blanche Greenstein, E. P. Dutton, New York, New York, 1981, p. 16.

I spent hours fiddling with paper appliqués and trying to get inspired. Nothing was working and time was flying by!! Even small quilts (Carolina’s quilt is 46” square) take a long time to make. I finally realized that this quilt needed to be orderly, but whimsical, for me to come up with a successful design. I like a quilt that can be rotated and viewed logically from all four edges – so I decided each side of the quilt had to be anchored by something. I thought about some of the memories Carolina might have of her first home – and then it all became obvious. Tall – very tall and very green – pine trees define the property where Carolina and her Mommy, Daddy, big sister, and dog live. The pines are sheltering, sturdy but sometimes swaying, and home to untold numbers of birds and animals. They would be the perfect definition for this quilt, too.

A quilt for Carolina

Two blue birds are on each of the tall middle trees.

The animals – dog, cat, chicken, and bees (flying around their hive) – practically designed themselves:

The dog's ear is floppy! I lined it with pink gingham. Here i have it pinned back so you can see it!

The dog’s ear is floppy! I lined it with pink gingham. Here I have it pinned back so you can see it.

I am a big fan of the dog's ear - so another look at it!

I am a big fan of the dog’s ear – so another look at it.

One of our cats wears a pink collar - thus the pink gingham ribbon for this cat. I added her smile after I had taken this photo.

One of our cats wears a pink collar – thus the pink gingham ribbon for this cat. I added her smile after I had taken this photo.

I embellished the chicken with wide rick rack. One of the fun aspects of designing a quilt is the ability to select the perfect fabric to tell your story - this hen has feathers!

I embellished the chicken with wide rick rack. One of the fun aspects of designing a quilt is the ability to select the perfect fabric to tell your story – this hen has feathers!

Bees a-buzzing around their hive!

Bees a-buzzing around their hive!

Each interior corner of the middle field is anchored by the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars:

The sun in this corner.

The sun in this corner.

A smiling moon, with rick rack mouth and a green button eye.

A smiling moon, with rick rack mouth and a green button eye.

Polka dotted stars in the other corners.

Polka dotted stars in the other corners.

You are seeing sections of the finished quilt, but here are some “in progress” photos, showing the freezer paper appliqués that were easy to spread out so that I could consider  the placement of each one.

This was how I knew I had the right composition of the quilt. Then it was on to hours and hours and hours of hand appliqué!

This was how I knew I had the right composition of the quilt. Then it was on to hours and hours and hours of hand appliqué!

It was rewarding to see this progress!

It was rewarding to see this progress!

I would occasionally place the border pieces on the edges to see if I like how it looked. With quilts, I am known to make decisions as i go along.

I would occasionally place the border pieces on the edges to see if I liked how it looked. With quilts, I am known to make decisions as I go along.

Once I had the center finished, the borders needed something else. I decided Carolina’s initials – CHT – would be the perfect addition, appliquéd with the surname initial in the prominent outer and middle position on each edge. See the above photo for my thinking process on this.

A baby hand is appliquéd in the center, surrounded by baskets, ready to be filled to their brims by her imagination, just as with Aida’s quilt.

I added the red rick rack bows, secured by vintage buttons, because i thought the center of the quilt needed more "heft" - and I was pleased with the effect this small addition made. (I took this photo before I had trimmed the ends of the rick rack even.)

I added the red rick rack bows, secured by vintage buttons, because I thought the center of the quilt needed more “heft” – and I was pleased with the effect this small addition made. (I took this photo before I had trimmed the ends of the rick rack even.)

I neglected to take a photo of the back of the quilt. I chose pink gingham cotton – in Carolina pink! – to make cuddling under it even more fun – and it serves as a tie-in with the bow on the cat, and the dog’s floppy ear.

I finally finished this quilt just one day before our whole family arrived for the holiday. I was obviously so glad to have it done, but then I found myself filled with weepy emotion and grateful wonder at the great blessing of grandchildren and the love that such a quilt can represent.

Made with love!

Made with love!

Carolina with her new quilt!

Carolina with her new quilt!

Oh, yes – lest you think Granddaughter #1 was to go without something handmade by her Coco (the name our granddaughters call me!),  please think again. I had purchased this pattern a couple of years ago, and decided this was the time to use it.

Quilt for Carolina - bear pattern

I made the baby polar bear, opting for pink ears and a pink gingham ribbon around its neck.

With button eyes and an embroidered nose.

With button eyes and an embroidered nose.

DSC_1031

DSC_1032

Hello, Aida!

Hello, Aida!

Now, at last – I am ready for the New Year, with all its promise and mystery! Happy 2016 to all of you around the world!

30 Comments

Filed under Baby quilts, Sewing for children, Uncategorized

30 responses to “A Quilt for Carolina

  1. Heather Myers

    These Coco gifts are lovely! And so creative.

  2. Mary Lynn

    Your quilts are exquisite and so perfect for those sweet,adorable little girls!
    (Carolina is precious, so I know Aida is also) I’m making my granddaughter,
    Blair’s needlepoint stocking and, fortunately, there aren’t as many decisions
    to make. I can hardly wait to finish it so I can start making some smocked
    outfits! Such a beautiful quilt – the hand appliqué says “much love” from
    Coco.

    • Thank you, Mary Lynn. There may not be as many decisions in a needlepoint stocking, but there is much time and expertise involved! Your little granddaughter is sure to love it forever!

  3. Beautiful, just beautiful! You are extremely talented!

  4. Elyne

    Even though I don’t sew I love seeing and reading about your beautiful work.
    Happy new year!
    Elyne

  5. heather

    simply stunning! so very sweet & adorable, too. you are super talented! what a beautiful gift/treasure! happy new year! 🙂

    • Thanks, Heather! It certainly is fun coming up with the ideas for these little quilts – and then seeing them take on a life of their own during the weeks and weeks of making them!

  6. Abbey

    These are just so beautiful! Lucky lucky granddaughters!

  7. Deb

    Your quilt for Carolina turned out beautifully, Karen!

  8. Susan Snow

    There is a sewing magazine published in the Uk called “Sew Magazine”,(I discovered it in Ireland)  if you go on the internet you can look at their website. They publish (for free) the patterns from back issues of the magazine. Just have a good look around the site. You can get these without spending money or going to the UK! If you look you can print out Mrs. Fox, Dave the Dashound and whole assortment of funny little makes for your little ones. Great way to use up nice scraps. I made Mrs. Fox for Christmas. What a riot. I had a little teapot that came in a box of Red Rose tea, about an inch and a half in diameter and I sewed it to her paw so with her little dress and apron on, she looked like she was getting ready to have a nice tea party. I do adore your blog and can’t wait to see what other adventures you get up to. I have a vintage coat pattern and a lovely length of Linton that I am trying to get brave enough to tackle. Happy New Year!

    • Thank you, Susan for the great referral… You are correct – the “funny little makes” are so cute – and what can be better than free patterns!? Oh, Linton and a vintage coat pattern?? Go for it! I have vintage cashmere and a vintage coat pattern on my sewing agenda for this winter. What could make the new year happier?

  9. How adorable! I love the personal touches and your totally unique design. Happy New Year and I can’t wait to see your creations in the coming year.

  10. Bernice

    Karen, your quilts are so charming and beautifully made. I’m sure they will be treasured by your granddaughters.
    And Carolina is so adorable!
    Thanks for sharing these with your blog readers.
    Happy New Year!

  11. Adorable! Destined to be a family heirloom, no doubt. What a lovely job (and Coco is such a great name) on quilts for your precious granddaughters.

  12. Awww, another big fan of the floppy dog ear! How lovely to incorporate so many stories into a baby quilt! Carolina is a lucky little girl, and so is Aida!

    • Thank you, Marianne! I hadn’t originally planned to make a floppy ear, but when I had the dog finished, he looked naked without a “real” ear. For me, the pink gingham for the under-ear is the real cute part!

  13. Such beautiful and painstakingly perfect work! I am in awe!

  14. Marguerite

    The quilts are so beautiful. Your granddaughters are blessed to have such a wonderful Coco! I’ve only done a couple of appliqué type pillows and I can certainly appreciate the work (labor of love) that went into the quilt. Your blog really is a joy to read.

    • Thanks so much, Marguerite. These quilts were so much fun to “design” if that’s what you want to call my haphazard way of pulling them all together. I hope the girls will love them for a long time.
      And, by the way, it is lovely readers like you who make my blog so rewarding for me to do.

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