Sunday, September 14, 2014

Strong Man Baby Quilt

My niece, Kelsey, and her boyfriend, Derrick, are due to have a baby boy soon.  We're all getting very excited! This past Saturday was their baby shower.

I like to sew something special for baby gifts when I can and I knew I wanted to make something tailored especially for Kelsey. Kelsey isn't really "in" to sports or even trendy baby fabrics like chevrons.  She told me once she really likes "repurposed" things and my initial thought was to make her baby quilt with soft flannel shirts that I picked up at the thrift store.  You see, Kelsey would really have liked that kind of fabric even better than anything I could buy new at Joann's.

Our sweet Kelsey is very artistic.  She has tremendous talent.  She painted this incredible Batman mural on her nephew's bedroom wall.  It's a view of Gotham City and it takes my breath way.  She is also one incredible little tattoo artist.  Kelsey is a very unique young lady and she has a really cool style.  She's not your every day diva.  She's my little dreadlocked, tatooed Kelsey and I love her so much.  Since she's so artsy, I knew I really had to up my game with whatever I decided to make.   

I have no doubt that Kelsey will be the very best mother.  She has a heart of gold and more compassion that most people hold in their little finger.

For Kelsey's gift, I chose to make a baby quilt; a very special baby quilt.  When I considered using thrifted clothes, it occurred to me that there was no use in doing that since our family has tons of clothes. I decided to make it using clothes from the men in her family whom she is directly descended from.  I even settled on a name for her quilt, 

"From a Long Line of Strong Men"

Kelsey's quilt is made with shirts and jeans from her grandpas and uncles (since this baby is a boy).  Kelsey's parents divorced when she was very young and I am married to her mom's brother..  Yet, I was adamant that I wanted to include the men on both sides of her family if at all possible.  After only a few phone calls, texts, and emails telling them my plan, they ALL came through for me!  I got jeans from her dad and even a shirt from her dad's brother whom I rarely even see.  A quick call to her paternal grandmother secured several shirts from her dad's dad to pick from.   My sister-in-law brought me a shirt from my husband's brother and of course, I had a motherload of clothes to use from my own husband.  Kelsey's maternal grandfather (and my husband's dad) passed away in 1995 and after much searching, we were having no luck finding even a hanky left from this very strong man.  After a last minute search of my basement (I live in the house my husband grew up in), we came across a very special find---my father-in-law's old army bag!  In it I found an extra piece of fabric perfect for using in the Strong Man quilt.

I chose to use a patchwork style rag quilt pattern because I thought Kelsey would really like that best and I simply searched Pinterest and reviewed the various instructions I found for rag quilts.  (It was easy peasy, with my only notation being to double sew the seams- a rag quilt is meant to fray and I had trouble with the seams fraying out until I double stitched the seams.)

My husband seemed concerned that the baby would be laying his little face on used and frayed fabric so I found new fabric (flannel) for the back.  Perfect for a "Strong Man Quilt"-since all of the men were either mechanics or carpenters.  It had hand tools all over it!

I completed my gift with a written key.  It read like this:  

From a Long Line of Strong Men...

This baby is already a strong little man!  He comes from a long line of strong men, Grandpa Copeland, Grandpa Kenney, your Dad, Bill, Steve & Doug.  

Maroon plaid:  Grandpa Copeland
Army green in the four corners:  Grandpa Kenney
Dark denim:  Dad
Cream plaid:  Bill
Navy plaid:  Steve
Light denim/solid gray:  Doug

So many things can be made into heirlooms, even a bunch of old clothes that were too worn to wear, too old, or too little.  It turned out even more wonderful than I expected AND  I even managed to gift it without too many tears.  

Here I am with Kelsey, Derrick, and the Strong Man Quilt.  (Imagine my surprise this week when I saw that Kelsey had cut off her dreads!  ;)


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