Thirty-eight years ago, I was given a very special gift. One that kept me warm when I was a baby, protected me from monsters under the bed a few years after that, and comforted me during those first homesick days of college. Even now, nearly four decades later, this well-loved, well-worn gift keeps on giving. And though it no longer covers me from head to toe, it still warms me, and my heart, all the same.
The gift, of course, was a quilt. Featuring pretty gingham, precious patchwork, and lovely little Sunbonnet Sues, this timeless treasure was carefully pieced and hand-quilted by my Aunt Alecia. Curious to know whether she knew just how meaningful a project this was at the time, I recently asked about her creative experience. Here’s what she said:
I knew I wanted to give you a gift of love. Every stitch I made was made with love and thoughts of you. I chose Sunbonnet Sue as she was so sweet, as I knew you would be. I knew I wasn’t the best sewer or quilter, but I wanted to give it all I had. Years later, when I saw it in need of repair, I know you had given it a lot of love. Nothing warms your heart like knowing it was a special blanket, and not just another one from the store.
So sweet, and so true! I did give my special blanket a whole lotta love, to the point that some Sunbonnet Sues eventually started coming apart. And Aunt Alecia, being the kind, golden-hearted person she is, carefully stitched them back together so that they were as good as new—and ready to keep me warm for forty more years.
Today I’m a proud auntie myself with three wonderful nieces ranging in age from eleven to eleven months. And now that I know my way around a sewing machine, I’m so happy to be able to make for them the same kind of gifts Aunt Alecia made for me. I absolutely love picking out the perfect pattern and fabric for each little girl, and thinking of them with every single stitch. Though I don’t quilt by hand, the TLC’s still the same!
For my middle niece’s fourth birthday last week, I arranged several heart blocks around her name. All fabric was from my stash, and I started with a multi-colored floral (Kaufman Sevenberry Bouquet Medium Flower Summer) and coordinated polka dots from there. I loved the cheerful combo of pink, yellow, green, and teal, and thought it suited Miss Ellie perfectly. Coincidentally, the colors couldn’t go better with her other bedroom décor. A happy accident!
I also got to hone my free-motion skills with lots of stippled swirls. Though I’m very much a beginner in that department, I was pleased with the end result—and crazy for those sweet crinkles!
Before wrapping up this special little blanket, I put it next to mine and took a minute to ponder the passing of time. I can only hope that Ellie’s quilt brings her as much comfort and happiness as Aunt Alecia’s has me. And, in forty years or so, when that bright white cotton has taken on a warm, custardy hue, I hope there are small rips and tears for me to mend. For these are the signs of a quilt well loved, both by an auntie and her niece.
Special thanks to Cluck Cluck Sew for the adorable heart block pattern! Find it HERE!
Did you know Sunbonnet Sue’s been around for centuries? And that her first big claim to fame came in 1900 via The Sunbonnet Babies, a book by Bertha Corbett Melcher? Learn more HERE!