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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
The animals – dog, cat, chicken, and bees (flying around their hive) – practically designed themselves:
Each interior corner of the middle field is anchored by the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars:
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.
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 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.
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.
I made the baby polar bear, opting for pink ears and a pink gingham ribbon around its neck.
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 responses to “A Quilt for Carolina”
These Coco gifts are lovely! And so creative.
Thank you, Heather! They are so different from what I usually sew, so I can use my creativity in new and fun ways!
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
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!
Beautiful, just beautiful! You are extremely talented!
Thank you! These quilts are fun to make, even though I always seem to be scrambling to get them finished in time!
What a fantastic quilt!!!
Even though I don’t sew I love seeing and reading about your beautiful work.
Happy new year!
Thank you, Elyne – and I love having you as a reader. Happy New Year to you, too!
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!
These are just so beautiful! Lucky lucky granddaughters!
Thanks, Abbey! So excited about the arrival of Whit – such a lucky little boy!
Your quilt for Carolina turned out beautifully, Karen!
Thank you, Deb! When we got together for breakfast way back when, i wasn’t sure i could pull it off in time, but somehow I did!
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?
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.
Thank you, Mary! I’ve got lots planned for the coming year, as I am sure you do, too!
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!
Thank you, Bernice. I feel so fortunate to have two adorable and sweet granddaughters – perhaps their dolls will need quilts, too!
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.
Thank you, Jen. I hope the girls can enjoy these quilts for a long, long time, but mostly I hope the quilts serve as a sweet alliance between generations.
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!
Such beautiful and painstakingly perfect work! I am in awe!
Well, thanks, Janene. The work is far from perfect, but that’s one of the lovely part of appliqué quilts – a little imperfection is just part of it all!
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.