Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Sewing Projects - Friendship Quilts

I was totally inspired by the book "Prairie Children and Their Quilts" by Kathleen Tracy to attempt to make a couple friendship quilts this holiday season. This interesting book explores the origins of doll quilts made during the nineteenth century - it has vintage photos and actual diary entries from children who overcame hardships on the American frontier...and includes small, antique-style projects - twelve quilts, a doll rug, and a doll apron. I didn't follow the exact directions for any of the little quilt projects in the book - but it gave me a nice starting point and ideas for what I wanted to do. My goal: to do two friendship quilts (well, actually I wanted to do a bunch of them, but there are only so many hours in the day!) - one for my friend Merry and one for my friend I gathered fabric and started cutting....

For Kimber's friendship quilt, I started with the idea of the "Broken Dishes Quilt" found in the book - but I did not add the extra borders. I had fun picking fabrics for this quilt out of some "scrap bags" I had purchased at local quilt shops - Kimber likes scrappy quilts with character, so I tried to pick colors that would appeal to her and her home decor. I cut 96 quarter square triangles (using the GO! Quarter Square-4" Finished Triangle by Alex Anderson die with my AccuQuilt GO! fabric cutter) for this tiny quilt. It was quite fun to piece this quilt - and although I wanted it to be scrappy, I found myself trying to make it more "balanced" as I placed each block. I wasn't sure if this small quilt would be used as a wall hanging, but I wanted it to have that option, so I put sleeves on the back and included a hanger, just in case....

For Merry's friendship quilt, I decided to something a little more modern (and not in the book). I used fabrics from "Beach House" by Blackbird Designs for Moda (note: some of the blocks have sampler fabric)....and decided to use one of my favorite shapes - the tumbler. I actually cut 96 small tumblers (using the GO! 3 1/2" Tumbler die with my AccuQuilt GO! fabric cutter), but once I pieced all of the rows, I realized I was working on quite a large project (a lot larger than I had planned - my math needed a little help!) - so the end result only uses 64...leaving me a few rows left to build on again. I just loved the soft colors of this fabric line...putting this quilt together was complete joy...and I am sure this quilt has a good home at Merry's house! I also put sleeves on the back for hanging and included a hanger.

I should note, my husband assisted me with the "hangers" - we took a trip to Lowe's, went to the lumber section and I picked up several 2" x 24" pieces of wood that were 1/4" thick....we then had them cut in half, so each was 2" x 12" x .25". We purchased sawtooth hangers and 1/4" (very, very tiny) screws, which Travis then attached to the wood "strips" when we returned home. I thought they worked perfectly and was thrilled I purchased enough to do eight hangers...that way I have some in reserve! They easily slid into the sleeves I had sewn on the back and I was able to give the quilts "ready to hang".

As a finishing touch - instead of using a permanent marker to sign and write on the actual blocks of the quilt (as suggested by the book), I decided to make labels for the back of the quilt to personalize the date and occasion. I used inkjet printable sew-on fabric and printed index card size labels, using a saying from the book:

For my dear friend,
Accept the quilt for friendship's sake
For happy times of old and late
Remember me

Then I added "Happy Holidays 2010!" and my signature. After printing the labels, I serged a 3-thread rolled edge around each one to keep them from fraying - used fusible web to hold them in place in the lower right-hand corner - and then hand-stitched them down with white quilting thread. I am not an expert quilter by any means, but I was thrilled with how well these friendship quilts turned out - and any little imperfections give them "character". I hope this blog entry will inspire you to make a friendship gift for someone special...


  1. Always enjoy reading your blog posts and coming away with a feast for the eyes or a resource that I have to look into! What fabulous friendship quilts you have created for Merry and Kimber!


  2. Absolutely beautiful quilts...what wonderful gifts for lucky recipients.

  3. What lovely gifts for special friends. I know they will be treasured.

  4. Beautiful!!!!! I have been blessed to have my mom make me three friendship quilts. I have them displayed in shadow boxes with a few other sentimental gifts and pictures from mom.
    Again you are giving such meaningful and beautiful gifts. I applaud you.

  5. The quilts are absolutely wonderful! I know Merry and Kimber will cherish these special quilts. I'm always amazed how different the same fabrics can look based on the design chosen. As always, WELL DONE! Lorrie