Okay, so here's the story. First, a little family history, especially since the theme is Motherhood and, since I'm NOT a mother, I focused on MY mother. My Mom is one of four kids, and they all live pretty close to each other. My maternal grandfather died just after I turned 16, but my maternal grandmother passed away just nine years ago. (For those of you doing the math, she outlived him by 15 or 16 years.) At the time she passed away, Gramma had 11 great-grandchildren--one girl (the oldest) and the rest boys.
When we were going through Gramma's stuff, I spotted an apron that was a lovely pastel stripe with little embroidered-type flowers (bordering the label above--the name for this type of fabric escapes me.) My intention at the time was to work it into a quilt for any of the great-granddaughters born after Gramma passed away. (This did not seem like much of an undertaking, given the family's track record for delivering boys.) Turns out that baby my cousin was carrying at the time was the first of several baby girls. At last count, I think there have been nine new additions in that generation and five of them have been girls! I'd like to say that each baby got their quilt the day after they were born, but I'm just not that organized.
The first one, Lyda, got her quilt complete with yellow stars when she was 4—I made it in a quilt guild workshop. The second two, Kayleigh and Jenna, got theirs when they were 3—I had the first top pieced but not quilted, and couldn't give one without the other because the two girls were first cousins born within months of each other. And the latest arrivals were the luckiest—Adeline and Madison had theirs before their 6-month checkups! I was on a roll getting Kayleigh and Jenna's done, so I just kept going. Thank goodness for winter nights!
Each quilt is a different pattern, though they all use the same basic pastel palette—the colors from the apron. Many years ago, I found the paper doll print and bought a bunch of it, not sure what I might do with it. (I bought it with yellow background and off-white background—I liked it that much!) I also bought the border fabric that you see in the square pinwheel quilt—Adeline's—I couldn't resist those little dolls in the stripes. So the doll fabric ties them all together. The interesting part is that Gramma always had dolls with fancy dresses in the basement for her grandkids to play with, so the fabric seems a perfect memorial. Each quilt gets a label that includes a picture of Gramma and a message to each of the girls. Each label is surrounded by the apron fabric. Truth is, I was afraid to work the apron fabric into the quilt, as I don't really know how old it is and I didn't want to have to repair blocks if the fabric fell apart over time. Plus, the apron fabric is limited, and if my cousins keep creating little baby girls, I'm going to run out soon.
My family is big on memory items. This same grandmother had a red-and-white quilt that had holes and stains all over it from the years of use. We discovered it in her hope chest and my Mom and Aunt Janie turned the blocks into Christmas ornaments for the whole family. When my paternal grandmother passed away, my Mom took some of the clothes and aprons that were most familiar to all of us and turned them into Christmas ornaments as well. I've heard stories of families taking their dad's flannel shirts and turning them into a quilt or pillows. I've got several dresses from my Gramma that I wear on occasion. They're vintage 1950s and 60s, and I wear them when I'm in a retro mood. Whether you cut apart the clothes to salvage the fabric or just rework them to suit your style, the preservation of the memories is the same.