Making a quilt for a specific someone is one of my favorite parts of quilt making. I (Kara) find it hard to put together a quilt without having a specific person in mind while making it. There is definitely a story to be told when making a quilt for someone else. Usually we try to find out a bit about the person or if we know them well, try to infuse that person's personality into the quilt. Most times a finished quilt given as a gift is received with joy and gratefulness. But sometimes the recipient's reaction is not what we were expecting.
About 15 years ago, I decided I was going to make each of my children a quilt. McKenna, my younger daughter, was about 8 when I began the quilt and got to be the first to have a quilt made for her. She liked purple and dragonflies, and I asked her if she liked the Trip Around the World pattern (a pattern that I loved). She liked the pattern so I set forth on a quest to find as many purples as I could find. Now if you have ever collected purples that will blend together, you know that there are many types of purple out there. Red-purples, blue-purples, lavenders, plums and more. Since I am a little Color OCD (not a medical term), it took me quite some time to gather a collection of purples that satisfied me. "Some time" meant about a year. Then there was the time it took to order the colors in a pleasing manner and more time to figure out the borders, quilting, and binding. Needless to say, the quilt from start to finish took about 2 years, and I began to love purple in a whole new way.
During the process, I noticed that McKenna wasn't quite as excited as I hoped she would be about the quilt. She was and still is my peacemaker child, so she didn't say anything. The quilt was finally finished, and I was so thrilled to be able to give my daughter the first quilt that I had made for one of my children. She accepted it from me in a subdued way, and I was a bit perplexed. I asked her if she liked it and she said, "Yes Mommy, it's pretty, but I don't like purple anymore."
Now that she is an adult we have talked about this and laughed. Purple is still not her favorite color, but she loves the quilt and can appreciate it far more now than when she was 10.
The quilt is a traditional Trip Around the World pattern made by strip piecing. I stitched in the ditch for the pieced areas and free-motion quilted the borders. The corner dragonflies were made by creating each dragonfly with fused appliqué and then I laid a piece of batiste over that and quilted around them. It gives a shadow-effect similar to shadow embroidery, but not quite as time consuming.
The binding was made from leftover strips.
I did free-motion McKenna's name in the border, although it is hard to see.
These are some of the lessons I learned while making a quilt for someone else:
1. Be prepared for any reaction, positive or negative, and accept it.
2. Make sure you like the colors and fabrics that you are working with, too.
3. Be flexible when making a quilt for a child.
4. Try not to take two years to finish the quilt.
Feel free to share the stories of quilts you have made and given. What types of reactions did you receive? Remember that our love of quilt making is what's important, no matter what the reaction to our quilt gift might be.