Today I’m going to go out on a limb and talk about kids quilts. Why is this controversial? Well, because anything to do with how things should or should not be done for children seems to cause a debate but that’s ok. This one is a debate worth having…
As followers will know, I’ve recently finished the Pirate King Quilt . What you may not be aware of is the story of this quilt. When one of my best friends had her first baby, I promised I’d make her/them a quilt, sometime in the next five years (just for the record it was done in 3). I also happened to find some beautiful panels of pirate bears. The idea of which fitted so well with this family. That was the start of a new quilting adventure. So what has this to do with kids quilts? It’s a question of design really.
As I mulled over the design of the Pirate King quilt I decided that I don’t particularly like traditional kids quilts much at all. What I’m talking about is the basic shapes/animals-appliqued-on-a-plain background-with-a-border type quilt. Now I understand that a quilt for littl’uns is going to get messed up, washed, and hopefully loved to within an inch of its life. That’s really the point of a kids quilt to me. What I don’t like about the traditional quilt is that it seems, well, boring.
So how is Pirate King different? There’s two main things. The quilt is made with counting panels which makes it interactive. The interactivity was beautifully demonstrated when the first thing the family did after receiving the quilt was count with it by jumping from block to block!
Secondly, I’ve appliqued and quilted hints and ideas rather than complete objects into the quilt. If you look closely at the photos of the quilt, you’ll see that there are a few birds, a butterfly, footprints, a half-submerged urn and a whale tail protruding from the sea in there. What I decided not to include was a line showing the journey of the boat through the ocean or where different object had come from. What I was trying to do here was encourage ideas about what might be lurking in the forest or the ocean, where people were going and what happened to them. The partial ideas I did include will hopefully inspire a different story from the quilt every time it’s played with.
So my thesis is that kids quilts should encourage ideas, imagination and adventure…even when they are for big kids, but that one is a story for another day.