Creating quilts for children

“Our praying and creating hands become God’s resource as we determine how to embody what we are experiencing through the cloth.”
—Susan Towner-Larsen
and Barbara Brewer Davis,
With Sacred Threads: Quilting
and the Spiritual Life
, p. 98


Last summer a dear friend asked me to make quilts for her two daughters using the baby clothes she had saved. She handed over two large plastic containers filled with sweet baby dresses, cute onesies, and charming knitted caps. As I sorted through the bins I wondered what I could do with these clothes: how can I make a quilt for each of the girls?

I decided to cut up the adorable clothes into 2.5” squares. I first traced squares on the various clothes then cut them out using scissors rather than my favorite cutting tool, a rotary cutter.

As I worked with these clothes I remembered each girl as a baby. I met each girl shortly after they were born and leaning over the hospital bassinet to stroke their heads and whisper a blessing: “We are so glad you are here. We’ve been waiting a long time for you and here you are! We are so happy!  You ____, are beloved and blessed child of God.”  (I try to whisper this each time I meet a new baby. It’s an idea I got from my friend Susan who is a labor and delivery nurse).

And during my work recalled how the girls have grown from babies to elementary school children, each with her own distinct personality. I also held the entire family in my heart, grateful four our friendship and the joy I experience being with them.

As I assembled the quilts I imagined how the girls might use them—reading books under the quilts, snuggled under them in the winter, and, maybe, if the quilts are still in shape, taking the quilts with them to college.

I like to hand-sew the bindings as a final way of handling the quilt and praying that the recipients will experience God’s loving embrace when they are using the quilt. My hope is that my loving energy will be transferred onto the quilt and love will be felt by the quilt owner.

One of the quilts is pictured above–here’s the other one. I made three columns of three squares of those baby clothes but never did incorporate those charming knitted caps! When my friend came to pick the quilts up she burst into tears when she saw them.  I took it as a sign that she liked them.

Recently, my friend Sarah posted a picture on Facebook of her husband and their two children reading together with a quilt over them. It was a quilt I made when Sarah was pregnant with her first child and it was a joy to sew together. I prayed for Sarah and her husband Matt as I sewed the squares together—I prayed for a healthy pregnancy, a safe delivery for Sarah, and for wisdom for both of them as new parents. I knew Sarah and Matt well as I officiated their wedding and worked with them in premarital counseling. And because of this experience I could tenderly carry them in my as I sewed.

Matthew, Aaron and Joan under quilt. Photo by Sarah, 12/2011

When I contacted Sarah for permission to use the photo she said her son continues to sleep with the quilt and used it a lot. This makes me happy!

As I write this, the fabric for my two-year-old niece is in the washing machine. I hope to begin working on the quilt this week and finish it before my visit to California in early March.

“Playing with cloth to birth a new design can be an act of prayer. When one is aware that the Divine is guiding the process of creation at every step, there is a profound sense of a partnership, a Guiding Hand, and a readiness to receive a magnificent message from the Holy Other. Our praying and creating hands become God’s resource as we determine how to embody what we are experience though the cloth patches.”–ibid

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