The stories that this blanket would tell are numerous. There are four generations of women woven into its quilt squares.
My neighbor had a bag full of dresses that she had worm when she was a young girl.  Her daughter (the youngest of four with three older brothers!) had worn a few. The batch included many dresses that were handmade by her grandmother, an extraordinary seamstress. It was easy for me to pick out the hand sewn dresses – not because they were any less professionally made – but because of the beautiful smocking or the lack of a label. I could appreciate the love that went into their construction.

She also had a collection of blankets that belonged to her daughter. There was a fuzzy, pink blanket, two cotton and satin blankets and two chenille blankets. We discussed concepts and the goal was to attempt to use the blankets for the backing. I couldn’t get them to fit together in any way that I liked. And we both wanted a soft backing for her daughter to snuggle under.

It took a while for me and my neighbor to evolve our ideas. I reached out to my wonderful Twitter friends and @kineticquilts gave me the suggestion of creating ruched squares. I liked this idea because the ruching gives the idea of a gathered dress.  There is a ruched baby blanket tutorial here that is lovely. But since the fabrics of the dresses I had were delicate, I didn’t think a long strip would work. I also toyed with making a ruffle out of the hems and placing that around the perimeter, but we also thought that would be too fragile. So I proceeded with creating individual squares – some ruched, some appliqued, and some plain.

Trying to figure out what I was going to do!!!

I read an article on perfectionism yesterday and how it can lead to procrastination. I understand that feeling. Especially when there is an open-ended design. I want to meet my customer’s needs. I want to construct a quality product. Sometimes you even have to step away from a project to bring fresh perspective. There was plenty of all that in this project! Sometimes you just have to start cutting!

I decided that it would be fun to have a dress quilted onto one of the pretty and delicate blankets as a central focal point. My neighbor asked to see the three pink dresses and picked the one that was most special to her.

I then used the pink blanket, the white chenille blanket, the bathrobe and the white blanket as the base for most of the squares. I essentially used a quilt as you go method. It was a fun process!  I started mainly with the bodices of the dresses, which often filled the entire square. After that, I pieced pieces of the dresses, sleeves and hems. Sometimes I ruched the fabric and/or created strips. I even tried out some of the decorative stitches on my Janome.

I think many of the blocks convey the identity of the dresses. Here, I left the bishop collar intact.

Several slips were in beautiful condition, so I was able to use them for quite a few blocks.

And this adorable bathrobe! I think I had a similar one! It became the base of many blocks and I also used some of the blocks plain, as fillers blocks, since they had a quilted design on them.

I used the buttons in the central panel to quilt the layers together and to help balance the central dress panel since the dress was not centered on the rectangle. (Sometimes you have to design as you go!)

One of the handmade dresses.

I used the embroidered section of the chenille along the bottom.

This blanket is big! It is about 5′ x 6′. It is not intended as a bedspread, but it is big enough for one!

I just had to let the sleeves pop out!

The bath robe.

Strips – in a “quilt-as-you-go” method

One of the ruched strips.

Hand smocking.

Sometimes I used the hems to create strips. For other blocks, I let the hems hang free. I realize this may not hold up well, but my neighbor knows where I live…..

This embroidered edging was so pretty, I used a big strip along the bottom.

The modern part of the blanket? Well, the blankets! In addition to the little girls’ blankets, the backing fabric is a chenille-like pink fleece.

The slip bodice.

I had to cut the blanket apart and re-applique the name and date because there was a spelling mistake.

Sometimes the stains add a bit of character.

I hung the blanket up on my front window and I thought it looked like a quilt X Ray!

The end result? Lots of memories preserved in a cozy blanket for a little girl!

Note – this is a special variation of my Baby Clothes Blanket. If you would ever like a blanket constructed in a similar manner to this one, we can discuss options and pricing.

You can find a listing on my Etsy page here.