Story of the Squares: The Small Things Quilt, a guest post by Kelle Hampton

(but first, a brief introduction….)

By far, the hardest part of making a Heritage Quilt is to send it off when it’s finished. We unapologetically fall in love with every single quilt that we make. Every step of the way is savored, beginning with the conversations over email that we have with you while you’re deciding to have a Heritage Quilt made, what size is right for you and questions that  you have as you begin to gather your special items. Some conversations begin to feel as if we are sitting over coffee with a long lost friend. There is a story behind every quilt request, and we love hearing your words.

Then, momentum continues the day we receive your clothes and read your notes about the specific and most significant pieces. The process gets down to business as we make the first and most difficult cut. Then, creativity takes over as we rearrange the pieces that hold your treasured moments into a collage of stitched memories. So, needless to say, it’s a treat for us to receive your feedback through words and pictures of the quilts as they settle into their new home and become an object of affection to you.

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photo by Kelle Hampton

And now, it is our great privilege to bring you our very first guest blogger, Kelle Hampton. Below, she shares her thoughts about her finished Vintage Giggles Heritage Quilt.

What was the hardest thing to let go of for the quilt?

The nightgown I wore the night I became a mom. I’m super sentimental about it. I remember wearing it, sitting in a rocking chair in a dark hospital room after everyone had left, holding my baby and making note that my peace and happiness at that moment was so deep, so like nothing I’d ever felt before. I’ve been wearing the nightgown ever since, and it’s worn and thin now. I almost didn’t include it, thinking I’d pass it down to my girls someday, but it was so worn out, I figured it belonged in the quilt. Vintage Giggles not only preserved the fabric beautifully in the quilt, but they saved the pleated lace—my favorite part about the nightgown—to embellish a new nightgown when I find the right one.

What are your top three favorite squares?

I love stories and the invitations to tell them, so my favorite squares are based on fabrics that hold really good stories.

1)      The red plaid gingham from the Big Boy pants Dash wore at his first birthday party. I had the pants specially made for the party and two weeks before the event, I found Nella and Dash with a permanent marker—and the pants. I was so disappointed (the stains didn’t come out!), but now I’m glad it happened. I asked Vintage Giggles to make sure they used the black scribbles in the quilt so that I can retell the story to my kids. They think it’s so funny!

2)      The embroidered “Blessed” square. The fabric is from a small pillow that someone (I don’t even remember who!) brought up to the hospital to tuck in Lainey’s bed during an extended hospital stay after she was born. It stayed there the whole time—through all the worries and fear during that stay. It wasn’t the last time we needed that “Blessed” pillow near our kids during tough times. There’s something about the juxtaposition of the “Blessed” phrase when you’re worried for your kids. And now it’s tucked in the quilt for a constant reminder.

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photo by Kelle Hampton

3)      The brown tweed romper from Lainey’s First Day of Kindergarten. Talk about a story. It was such an awful (but needful and important) experience for both of us. She didn’t want to go to school and after she sobbed as I left her, I went and had my own cry in the car. But I remember picking her up that day. She was smiling–looking so grown-up and yet still very much a little girl wearing a little girl romper. I love all the details in that romper—the pockets, the over-the-shoulder straps, the buttons and leather trim. All of it got transferred to the quilt in the most unique and detailed squares.

I have to add one more—the cherry apron square. Both of my girls wore that apron on many occasions–baking chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins or my mom’s cherry pie with me. The pocket of the apron is sewn on to the quilt, and a little surprise was found in it during the cutting process. Vintage Giggles sent me a picture of a pile of flour they found preserved at the bottom. This, of course, proves that laundry isn’t my forte. Perhaps I could have washed it before sending it on to be made into a quilt.

What was your first reaction to the finished quilt?

Well, of course I cried. So many little things I loved watching my babies wear were now beautifully stitched together to hold so many stories. When it comes to baby stuff, I’ve always had a hard time with getting rid of things. It felt really good to get the attic cleaned out, simplify (a lot went to friends and Goodwill) and preserve only the very best things in such a memorable way—a visual that’s constantly present in our home, and one that encourages far more stories being passed on to my kids than if clothes were folded up and hidden in attic crates. Plus, it’s visually stunning and pulls together the eclectic look of the girls’ room.

What do your kids say when they look at the quilt?  

We play games of picking out which squares are our favorite. Nella says “pretty.” And Lainey likes to brag, stopping me before I tell her where the fabric came from with, “Don’t tell me, I already know. That was my Christmas dress.” This, of course, makes me insanely happy.

What is a tip you’d tell someone who is undecided about having a heritage quilt made.

These quilts are investments, and you can’t put a dollar amount on the time and design that goes into them. That said, when it came time for us to upgrade bedrooms and get a new bed for our girls, I thought a lot about how we wanted to spend our money. I ended up finding a discount bed frame rather than the bed I had my heart set on because I knew the quilt was more important (I ended up loving our discount bed frame too, so win/win!). Kids grow out of styles and bedding and color schemes and expensive bed frames, but this? This will last forever and be passed down for generations. I also envisioned the many stories that would come from it, and it’s already happening. We cuddle up for bed, and I find a square, point it out and start telling the story again.

 

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photo by Kelle Hampton

(And finally, she added a question of her own)… Do you have plans for more quilts?

I want each of the kids to eventually have their own quilt, so I continue to save fabrics. Over the years, we’ll build more fabric stashes and invest in more quilts so that each child will have something to take with them when they’re on their own—something full of stories that binds them to each other, to home and reminds them…CALL YOUR MOTHER.

Kelle Hampton

 

 

6 Comments

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  1. I love this idea!!! We’re in the middle of having our family but I’ve already been saving clothes from my one daughter! And I would’ve never thought to include maternity clothes!! I would love to have a heritage quilt made one day!!! For now I’ll keep saving 🙂

  2. I love this post. I lost my mother 7 years ago. When I was going through her things, I found a quilt top that she had stitched together but had never finished making it into a quilt. You can imagine what a special item it was to find and realize that it contained all the fabrics from the dresses, pajamas, the smocks (moms wore those back in the day to hide the baby bump), rompers, and all the clothes my mother made when I was growing up. Yes, back in the day, moms made everything! Anyway, my girl friend swooped that quilt top up and had it made into a beautiful quilt for me. You can imagine the stories I began to remember as I unpacked this priceless treasure once it was finished. It is my most valuable possession. I love the memories it holds and the fact that my mama so gently cut and sewed the entire top together herself. Although she never got to see the finished product, I know she imagined it and knew that I would love it one day.

  3. Beautiful story and a BEAUTIFUL quilt!!! How lovely to have so many memories wrapped around the little ones as they sleep. I love it.

  4. This quilt is amazing and this work that you are doing for others — preserving and enhancing their heritage and memories — is amazing too! Beautiful!

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