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!