Quilt for our Baby

The short version
Bethany is making a quilt for our future son or daughter. We will be adding the names of everyone who donates toward our adoption fees - or who prays for us - to the back of the quilt, as a way for us to remember your generosity, and for our son or daughter to know very concretely how loved he or she was even before joining our family.

To see the quilt's progress, click on "Baby Quilt" in the right sidebar of this page (under Topics).

The much longer version, with pictures!
by Bethany

Quilting is a part of my heritage
I grew up in south-central Pennsylvania, in a small town called Mechanicsburg. Both my mom's and dad's sides of the family have been in Pennsylvania since the 1700's, after they emigrated from Germany (Dad) and England/Wales (Mom). Pennsylvania in general and Lancaster County in particular (where my dad's family has their roots) have a long heritage of quilt-making, dating back to colonial times. I like to think about my ancestors making beautiful quilts, all by hand. Some of my current relatives are talented quilters, too!

Lancaster County in the winter - taken when Mom and I were shopping for quilt fabric
My first quilt
In 2013, we were asked to be godparents to the daughter of good friends of ours. I knew right away that I wanted to make a quilt for our goddaughter Marie. I had some basic sewing skills and a sewing machine, but had never made a quilt before. Thankfully, I had plenty of time (about six months) before her birth, plus the expert help of my mom Jane, who is an excellent sewer.

The top layer of the quilt after I finished piecing it, meaning sewing the pieces of fabric together to make a pattern.

My aunt Retha also played a big part. She owns a long-arm quilting business, and I took Marie's quilt to her to have it quilted. (Technically, "quilting" refers to the process by which the top layer of the quilt - the "pieced" part with the design - is stitched together to the bottom layer of the quilt - the "backing" - with a fluffy layer called "batting" in between for warmth.)

Attaching the quilt to the frame. The computer in the background has a library of stitching patterns and communicates your selection to the long-arm quilting machine.
The process was amazing to watch! You can select any number of patterns for different areas of the quilt. Aunt Retha programmed the machine with that pattern and set the area on the fabric, and voila! the pattern was stitched onto the quilt.



It took an entire afternoon to stitch the quilt together: a fun mom/aunt/daughter/niece activity!

Displaying the finished product

Then came the most fun part, putting the quilt into use!
A proud godmother
The quilt also doubles as a play-mat

Fast-forward: Our baby's quilt
The inspiration struck on October 22, St. John Paul II's feast day. I was at the water fountain at work, thinking about a "puzzle fundraiser" someone did for their adoption. The idea was that people donate money and get their name put on a puzzle square, then the finished puzzle would hang in the baby's room. Suddenly I realized that I wanted to do something similar, but with a quilt. And how perfect it would be to spend my time waiting for our baby making him or her a quilt that hopefully would become a cherished childhood object.

The pattern I chose for our baby's quilt
I gave a lot of thought to what pattern to use. After a good bit of research, I settled on a pattern called Triple Irish Chain. It basically looks like this:

The "triple" comes from the fact that in the criss-crossing lattice design, there are three alternating colors - in this sample, white, pink, and red. There are variations of the Irish Chain in single or double style too.

This pattern is symbolic for a number of reasons:
  • It's an older, traditional pattern that may very well have been used by my ancestors.
  • The "Irish" part honors Dan's heritage; his mom's dad's family (the Cullens) are Irish.
  • The "triple" part symbolizes several things: our faith in the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), our family adding a third member, and a beautiful image from Scripture about how "a strand of three cords is not easily broken" (Eccl. 4:12).

The colors we chose are also symbolic: dark blue, light blue, yellow, and white.

It's hard to tell, but the white has a dandelion pattern on it, which I also thought was symbolic - the idea of dreams and wishes.
At first glance - for those who know Dan well - it might seem like we chose the colors of the Fighting Irish, Notre Dame. 

Not exactly true. But we did choose the color of "Notre Dame," Our Lady (Mary, the Mother of God). Blue is a color traditionally associated with her, and we want our child to always know the love of his/her Blessed Mother.

There is another Marian element to the quilt as well: when it's finished, there will be twelve blocks that are largely yellow, with blue on the edges. These twelve blocks symbolize the image from the Book of Revelation of the woman "clothed with the sun, with...a crown of twelve stars round her head" (Rev 12:1). The twelve stars are often used in depictions of Mary, for example in the image of Mary as the Immaculate Conception:

Finally, these colors are important to us because royal blue and gold were our wedding colors (used for our bridesmaids' dresses and table decorations). We want our child to know that he/she has a secure and lasting home in the heart of our family, grounded on our marriage.

An Autograph Quilt
Another quilting tradition is the "autograph" quilt. This kind of quilt was often given as a wedding gift or going-away gift. How it worked was that a group of women would each make one square as part of the pieced patchwork top. Each would sign her square, sometimes with a message for the couple getting married or moving, etc. Then the quilt would be sewn together and presented to the recipient.

This tradition is what inspired us to write the names of donors on the back of the quilt. It's a variation of the autograph quilt, since I'll be making the whole quilt and signing everyone's names, but it still has the same idea, to see the names and know of that person's love.

Quilting Progress
We will give updates on the quilt as it comes together. I think it will be a great way of passing the time as we wait for our son or daughter, and I find sewing a good time to pray for the recipient of the item. All in all, we're excited about this aspect of our adoption fundraiser and our preparation to become parents!

For Quilt Updates: Click on "Baby Quilt" on the right hand side of the website, under Topics.