small quilt made with 'baby blocks' design in pink blue and white

A tale of two quilts

This is a small quilt, just the right size for a moses basket or carrycot:

small quilt made with 'baby blocks' design in pink blue and white

It was made by Diana – a friend I made at University. It’s a lovely piece, made with traditional ‘baby blocks’ quilt blocks which give that three-dimensional effect and has a triple border.

close-up of baby blocks in a quilt

You can just see in this close-up that the quilt has been made using traditional paper piecing in which every patch is tacked to a paper shape and then the patches are stitched together with small overcast stitches. This is a satisfying – but very slow process – a labour of love.

You can also see that the quilt has been quilted by using ties. A blue thread has been taken from the front, down through the layers and back up again and then securely tied on the front. This is what this method looks like from the back.

example of 'tied quilting' seen from the back

Diana brought us home from hospital after the birth and she stood as godmother to my daughter.

We later had a second daughter and then – somewhat to our surprise – twin sons, so the quilt was used several times over in the moses basket.

This quilt is a larger cot-sized quilt.

a cot quilt made using log cabin blocks in shades of pink

This quilt, which uses ‘log-cabin’ blocks, was also made for my eldest daughter, by my mother. My mother was an excellent seamstress: she could make curtains and loose covers and she was a very good dressmaker indeed, making clothes for herself and for me, including jackets, coats and ballgowns! As far as I know, this is the only time she ever made a quilt. It is reversible, with a strip-pieced pattern on the reverse.

reverse of a quilt showing strip-pieced blocks

My mother taught me to sew and use a sewing machine and as a teenager I made a dress under her supervision, not enjoying the process very much. I didn’t like ‘Needlework’ at school very much either. How astonished my mother would be, to see what I am doing now. She saw my eldest daughter using the quilt but died before any of the other three children were born.

The daughter for whom these two quilts were made, herself died aged 23.

But these quilts are going to be used again. My daughter – my remaining daughter – has just had a baby! This little girl was born in the darkest of times and she has brought so much joy. The family is at the other end of the country to us – a six-hour drive – and we just managed to fit in a trip down and back, arriving home on the eve of the national lock-down in the UK. I am so pleased that we got to meet her and hold her, as it will be a long time before we can do that again.

Amanda Jane Ogden holding her baby grand-daughter

In the photo, you can see, over the back of the chair, a knitted woollen shawl, also made by my mother. The small shawl the baby is wrapped in, was made by an unknown hand and given to my mother – this is the one that I was wrapped in as a baby.

Textiles have the potential for emotional power. I love the fact that these quilts and shawls, made with love and skill are being used to comfort and keep warm a new small being who has just arrived in the world.

When you make something with your hands, whether with quilting, sewing, knitting, crochet or weaving, you are making something precious, especially if you give it away. In these extraordinary times, I hope you are making things.

Let me know what you think!

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