This year, I was asked to make a baby quilt for my friends who are expecting their first little one. Making a baby quilt is always a magical adventure. Just like the expectant parents start out with an idea of what they want, I start with a plan. I like pinwheels for babies. They represent the cycle of life, perfect for a life just starting out on this planet. I like red and white or black and white for the pinwheels. The sharp contrast and those specific colors helps the little one’s eyes develop. Then, I choose the size, usually around fifty inches square or so.
It’s a pretty loose plan, actually. I’ve tried planning out one of those pretty patchwork quilts that are so popular with the baby magazines, but they always seem flat, lifeless, and dull in person. That perfect world just doesn’t exist, at least not in my experience. Parenting is messy. it’s chaotic. Birth is violent and beautiful at once. Making a family is as organized and harmonic as a grade school talent show, back stage included…kind of like a patchwork quilt.
Step One: Start with Rough Plans
If you’re planning on making a Magical Baby Quilt, the first step is to make a rough plan for your finished piece. It can be as loose a plan as mine, or you can get super detailed and specific. The important part is the idea of a rough plan. Rough plans, just like rough drafts, leave you open to change. Staying open and letting your creative energies be connected with the budding young family’s energies allows you to offer supporting energies and little gifts of wisdom you might not have recognized as important otherwise. Changes that happen as you build the quilt, even the inconvenient ones like finding that the initial fabrics you chose aren’t quiet as harmonious as you’d thought they’d be, become a part of the magic of the quilt.
Step 2: Set Clear Intention
When my friends announced they were expecting and wanted me to make a baby quilt for them, I knew I wanted to create a magical tool that would help them and their little one. Health, Love, and Light were the core of my hopes for the little one and her family as I got started. I went to my stash to see what I had. This baby quilt began with a sweet garden print I picked up a couple of years ago on clearence in Florence, just before the confluence of the Siuslaw River and the Pacific Ocean. It was the last yard. I had to have it, absolutely had to. Then I got it home and wondered why it was so important. Part of the magic of this quilting experience has been discovery. I now know why that particular yard of fabric was so essential to me. It belongs to the new babe that’s getting ready to come into our world.
That garden print with the cute little bunnies alternating with red and white pinwheel blocks sounded like a good idea, too, perfect for my friend, a soon-to-be Mom who loves gardening. Once pieced, however, I was skeptical. The field of pinwheels and bunnies weren’t as harmonious as I’d envisioned. They were awkward, grating even. My honey was kind enough to lie when he saw it. He’s had enough experience with my process to wait and see before telling the truth.
Step 3: Trust the Magic and the Process
Another essential part of making a magical baby quilt is Trust. Just like the expectant parents are trusting that pregnancy will be okay, that the baby will be born healthy and Mom will recover well, that all the changes parenting and family-making bring will be beautiful, you’ve got to trust the process that unfolds. As you work, you may well have doubts. Have you known any new parent to not have had at least one doubt along the way? Doubts are part of the process for making a truly magical baby quilt, too.
The key to trusting the process is to keep moving forward with clear intention, even when you have doubts. My initial intention was to make a magical quilt that offers the little one and new parents exactly the energies they need for Health, Love, and Light. As I worked, my intentions shifted into Health, Love, and Success. That shift came because I stayed open to Spirit’s gifts for this project.
Step 4: Recognize Spirit’s Gifts
Part of the gift this work brings is the opportunity to recognize what arises and maybe even learn a thing or two from the experience. For me, finding harmony in a sometimes crazy world has arisen as a part of this journey. Travel and reaching beyond my home community was key to achieving that goal. The garden print with the bunnies came from Oregon’s coast. The pinwheels were from the Willamette Valley, where the expectant family and my own all make our homes. Harmony came from the Mountains.
The Sister’s quilt show this year offered the fabrics I needed to bring this baby quilt together. I brought the top with me. Amidst the chaos of the show, I auditioned the batiks and all-over prints at The Stitchin’ Post. Mountain Magic proved to be just what I needed. The pink-red and yellow fabrics I found brought balance and harmony to my awkward start. I cannot express the relief I felt as I watched the top come together this afternoon. Once again my trust was rewarded. Thank Goodness!
Step 5: Finish When the Time is Right
This week, I’ve finished this baby quilt. It’s the first I’ve finished before the little one has arrived. In making magic, it’s also important to heed the wisdom of time and Mother Nature as you work. Something compelled me to finish up early. Possibly it’s Mother Nature’s push to do everything early this year. Our grapes are nearly ripe already and the blueberries have already finished. We’re easily two or three weeks ahead of our usual schedule. This little one has chosen to come into a world that’s moving to the beat of a different drum than it did for previous generations. In all the baby quilts I’ve made, except for the one I made for my own son, I have waited until after the little one was born to add the label, which is the final step in my process. Spirit called to me, asking me to change my process, and I accepted the call. The world’s changing. Maybe this little one is coming here to help all of us who’ve come before ground into the new beat.
By the time my friends’s first babe arrives, her new quilt will have grown from a vague concept to an heirloom piece ready to share in her adventures and, hopefully, in those of her little ones some day long from now. That’s part of what I love about being asked to make a magical baby quilt. I get to experience a hint of the magic of birth and at the same time provide a magical tool to the new life entering into this world in a completely socially acceptable way that’ll potentially last for generations to come. Making the step from mundane quilting to creating something powerful is as easy as holding clear intention then letting go and seeing where each step of the adventure takes you.
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