Doll Quilt Review

Yesterday I completed a project I've been working on for about five months.  At the end of last year, I committed to making a doll quilt for each of my friend Lisa's five granddaughters.  (Some people get ALL the granddaughters.  But I'm not bitter, you understand.)  It turned out to be so much more fun than I thought it would be.  While I wouldn't commit to a project I didn't want to do, there was never any doubt that it would be fun to make an individualized design for each of the girls.  What I didn't know was that it would be a great learning project.  It helped me to stretch my design imagination and it helped me gain confidence in my free motion quilting.  Also, I've realized how much I love making doll quilts.

So with the last of the five quilts complete, I thought I'd give you a little review of each of the quilts and how they were designed for each of the girls.  I started with the oldest and worked my way to the youngest.

Elyce's Quilt

Lisa told me that Elyce liked purple and that she played the flute.  As an aside, Lisa and I have been friends since the 7th grade.  Lisa played the flute, as did her mother before her . . . and her daughter after her.  They are four generations of flute-playing women.  Lisa and I even played together when I played the piano accompaniment her flute solo at a scholarship competition at our local community college one year.  Sadly for Lisa, she has continued to age while I remain frozen in time, the same age as when we played together.  (Oh, snap!)

But to get back to Elyce's quilt, I did a search online for "flute quilts" and came up with a design that incorporated a kokopelli.  I pulled the kokopelli applique from the original design and designed the quilt around it.  This was especially appropriate for Elyce since she has some Native American ancestry.  Here's the front of Elyce's quilt:

I call this quilt "The Flute Player" (because I'm very original and creative with my quilt names).  I purchased the border/back fabric while we were traveling in New Mexico two winters ago.  It's one of my favorites.  

Kylee's Quilt

Lisa told me that Kylee likes horses and the color blue.  I didn't use as much blue in this quilt as I had planned to because I ended up using this Laurel Burch "Dancing Horses" fabric.  When I sent a picture of the fabric to Lisa, she said:  "Kylee is extremely artistic - gifted even, and the whimsical horses and bright colors will feed her soul!"

Also, I learned this about Laurel Burch from her website:  

Laurel was always incredibly prolific. Even during her long periods of convalescence from a rare bone disease called osteopetrosis, when she was forced to paint from a bed or wheelchair, she seldom put her brushes down. Laurel said, “I refuse to have anything in my life that I can’t turn around into something magical and beautiful. I just refuse.” Her art will forever convey a sense of joy and passion and lightness. There is an inner strength in her figures, with their bold lines and sinuous curves, and something irrepressible in the explosion of her colors. The universe of her imagination was fertile, burgeoning, uplifting, egalitarian, a place where every flower and dragonfly was transformed into something...magical and beautiful. 
I liked knowing this about Laurel Burch, and her spirit seemed perfect to inspire the budding artist in Kylee.  Here is Kylee's quilt:

Here is the back of the quilt.  I do love the colors and whimsy in this fabric.  I hope it touches Kylee in the same way it touched me.

I call this quilt "Pretty Little Ponies" after a traditional African-American lullaby from the southern United States.  The lyrics begin as follows:

Hush-a-bye, don't you cry,
Go to sleepy little baby.
When you wake, you shall have,
All the pretty little ponies.

Blacks and bays, dapples and greys,
Go to sleepy little baby.

Camlyn's Quilt

This is what Lisa told me about Camlyn:  "Camlyn is all about being a pink princess and doesn't show much sign of changing that part of her personality.  She loves shiny (certainly beads, buttons and crystals!), luminescent, and soft-feeling textures, along with PINK!"

I was able to find some fun pink castle fabric for Camlyn's quilt and I used a paper-piece castle for the center panel.  To satisfy Camlyn's penchant for "bling" I added Swarovski crystals to the corner crowns and also used pink metallic thread to quilt the checkerboard border.

The quilting in the castle is rather detailed free motion quilting to outline the "shingles" on the roof  and the "bricks" on the walls.  When I flipped the quilt over after quilting it, I realized that the quilting had ended up almost precisely over the top of one of the castle designs on the fabric!  It was complete dumb luck.

I call this quilt "Castle in the Sky" for a poem I found online by Kat Ballew that reads:

When lying in bed she sees Castles in the sky,
And it seems like a dream in her soul.
She wishes upon a star so high,
The enchantment a sight to behold.

She dreams of being a princess so fair,
And gazing across the land.
Beside her is her prince come to share
He kisses her, takes hold of her hand.

Her knight in shining armor, so gallant and true,
His eyes so brilliant and bold.
The princess with passion, she bids him adieu,
And promises to love and to hold.

As clouds fill the sky and the rain begins,
The castle looks like a silhouette.
distorted by fog that’s wet on her skin,
But the dream, she will never forget.

She lies in her bed, and suddenly she knows,
She sees a beautiful butterfly.
Soon in flight, like the butterfly she will go,
To His Castle in the sky.

Irish's Quilt

Irish is still pretty much a toddler, and so she hasn't expressed any particular likes or dislikes of her own yet.  Nevertheless, her sweet name certainly gave me a place to start.  After giving it some thought and auditioning different designs, I decided to do a traditional double Irish chain pattern.  Irish's mother asked me to use greens and pinks.  Lisa told me that the pattern reminded her of "quilts my great grandfather made when he worked for the railroad."  She explained that he was "stationed" in Northern Wisconsin and would spend days, sometimes weeks, away from his family in a remote outpost.  So, he took to making quilts to combat his loneliness.

Here is the quilt I made for Irish, which I called "Luck O' the Irish".  I added the shamrocks as an after thought because I thought the large white areas needed a little dressing up.

I used green thread to quilt a diagonal grid over the whole quilt.  And I love this fabric I found for the back:

Allison's Quilt

Allison, even younger than Irish, also has not had time to develop any particular interests or desires of her own.  Her mother  asked for a quilt with butterflies in reds and purples.  This design was adapted from a design for a much larger quilt with brightly colored butterflies.  I already had the floral border and back fabric which is called "Butterfly Garden" and it incorporated the red and purple colors.  I selected reds and purples for the applique butterflies to bring out the reds and purples in the floral fabric.  This quilt was made completely from scraps in my stash.

Here is the back.  This is one of my favorite fabrics of all time.  I named the quilt for the name of the fabric:  "Butterfly Garden".

And that, my friends, is that!  I've had so much fun with this that I'm almost sorry to be finishing it up.  When I get back from my trip, I'm going to ship all the quilts to my friend Lisa, who lives in California.  Then at the end of July, I'm going to fly down at Lisa's request to present the quilts to the girls and tell them how each quilt was designed especially for them.  

8 comments from clever and witty friends:

Judy1522 said...

Every single quilt turned out beautiful. What lucky girls and how special for you to be able to present them to each one and tell the story behind the design.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

All five are sew cute, but sew different. I'm sure they will all like their quilts. Now for a new project when you get back from Ireland.

Sarah said...

Barbara - I've really enjoyed watching you make these doll quilts (has it really been 5 months? wow, time flies) and following your design process. My fav quilt of the 5 is definitly the butterflies!

Junebug613 said...

All of them are fabulous! What lucky little girls! My personal favorite is Irish's quilt. I love those colors and have been dreaming of making a double irish chain quilt for my own bed....someday...

Kate said...

Such a neat project. All of the quilts turned out beautifully!

Diane Wild said...

An amazing accomplishment. I love them all.

Karin said...

Each quilt is just darling and is sure to become a treasure to each child. I love how you designed each one with the child in mind- your personal touches add so much. Your friend will be thrilled!

Donna Marlin said...

I'm a friend of Lisa's from long ago. I was intrigued by her story of your making the special quilts. I just have to say they move my heart! And the way you have created for each child is so touching.