I recently had the honor of quilting a very special quilt.
I met Barb Owen last November, when she attended a retreat that I was also attending. She was there working feverishly on a Sunbonnet Babies quilt for her granddaughter, Kristi.
Seems there’s a tradition in Barb’s family of all the girls receiving Sunbonnet Babies quilts for special occasions, and so it fell to Barb to make one for her granddaughter’s college graduation. After all, who is she to break tradition?
Barb keeps saying she’s not a quilter, but she sure is a talented crafty person, nonetheless. The quilt that started it all is this one right here:
Barb says that this quilt “was made by my mother’s Aunt Mary. I’m guessing that it might have been a wedding present for my parents, but I’m not sure about that. My parents were married in 1936, so the fabrics would fit within that time frame.”
Then it was Barb’s mother’s turn to make the Sunbonnet Babies quilts. Here’s the next one:
Barb says this one “was made by my mom and quilted by both of my parents. My mom and one of my sisters made one for me several years before this one, but the dresses were made of polyester double knit (from the late 60s and early 70s) and they rotted away within just a few years, so Mom stitched the second quilt. Mom made a quilt (same pattern) for each of my 3 sisters. Then she appliquéd the same pattern for each granddaughter in the family when she graduated from high school or college. She and my dad hand quilted them at a frame set up in the living room. I wish I had pictures, but it didn’t seem unusual and my dad was the photographer in the family and he was busy.”
What a treasure! To own a quilt that was made by your mother and quilted by both your parents! How special.
So Barb set out to carry on this tradition, and made Kristi a Sunbonnet Babies quilt of her own. She chose a very traditional Sunbonnet Sue design, and made them all from mostly 1930s reproduction fabrics with some other related prints thrown in for good measure.
There are 42 Sunbonnet Babies blocks. The babies are attached using fusible applique, and then machine stitched down around all their raw edges. The quilt is queen-sized, measuring 86″ x 97″.
It turned out so sweet!
Barb asked me to quilt it for her, and chose a cross-hatched background behind the babies, with piano keys in the outer border. I did a simple wavy line in all the small sashing strips, and outlined each baby’s applique pieces.
Barb presented the quilt to Kristi on graduation day:
She said, “Kristi LOVED the quilt!!!! And she was totally shocked. She studied so much of it the night after graduation.”
She said Kristi sleeps under it every night, and hopes that she’ll have it for a good many years.
It’s always so wonderful when a quilt has such a special story, isn’t it? I’m grateful to Barb for allowing me to be a small part of it.