Over last summer, fall and winter I worked on and completed a quilt for my youngest son. He had an old quilt on his bed, one that I made in college with reproduction 20s fabrics. I no longer like those fabrics and found them to be totally ridiculous on my 5 year old's bed. Since he was/is learning to read, I thought it would be fun to make him a word search quilt that he could interact with and find hidden words and messages. Some of the words are really beyond him still, like creature or astute, but there are others in there that are perfect, like his name and boy, poop or Mommy loves me. I spent quite a bit of time during the summer and fall hand appliquéing all the letters to fabric. I used Kona black for the letters, chose a font from my computer, enlarged it and then made templates of the entire alphabet. Then I cut squares from all the low volume, whitish fabric I had for the background squares. I made a drawing of what I wanted the finished project would look like, and then made a list of how many of each letter I needed to stitch. I started with words I wanted to make and then filled in all the letters around them. I did lose at least one word, silly, when my boys came into the sewing room and rearranged my letters for me while they were waiting on the wall to be stitched together. By the time I realized what had happened, it was really too late. I chose to let it go. The only unpicking I did was a set of letters that spelled SOB. I just couldn't let that go.
When I had all the letters finished, I machine pieced them together, added a couple of borders to make it big enough for his twin bed. I looked at several different backing options, a few of which I really liked.
Ultimately, I went with the owls. I just thought he would really enjoy them. Once basted, I hand quilted it using valdani size 12 cotton thread. The thread was a variegated grey-blue, and most of it was pretty light. Using a big stitch really makes for a fast hand quilt. I like the look of it and it feels great.
I made a pillow in the same style for one of my daughters and hand quilted it with a tradtitional small stitch. Comparatively, it took much longer to complete, but I thought it also quilted up beautifully, so either are good options.
This spring as part of our distance learning I sent a picture of the quilt to my son's teacher. I think she had them working on word searches and thought she'd enjoy it. She sent it to the entire kindergarten class and had them find as many words as they could as one of the their daily activities. Miles chose to do his on his actual quilt. We had fun.
The only thing I would do really differently if I were to make this quilt again, is to change the words. He's already on to other things. This year he's into nature in a big way. We've been watching our caterpillars eat our plants and turn into butterflies. We've been watching and identifying the birds in our backyard. We've counted lizards and learned about them, and watched the moon and the tides. He no longer wants to play the piano, but would rather take violin lessons, and at 6 he can do so much more than he could just a year ago. But I guess that's the nature of childhood and parenthood. The quilt captures a moment in his childhood. I could make him several more on his way to manhood and each would be a different quilt.
I originally planned to make two quilts, one for each of my sons. However, after much deliberation, my older son has requested something completely different. He would like me to make him a platypus quilt. Something with a big platypus in the middle, either pieced or appliquéd, with a green background and lots of other animals on the sides. I haven't begun the work for that quilt yet. I thought maybe something in the style of Elizabeth Hartman, but lately I've really been more excited about mixing pieced work with applique. So maybe I'll do some piecing in between or around appliquéd animals? Drafting that will take some energy and time. I have some other projects to finish up before taking on this new project.