Ever get one of those ideas that wakes you in the middle of the night and you have to start working on it right away or you'll explode? This happens quite often, but not this time. This idea has been brewing for quite a while.
Ages ago, my parents bought a beautiful little christening outfit, complete with bonnet, two pairs of crocheted shoes, two little sweaters, two bibs and the dress itself with a satin underliner, in the hopes that their granchildren would wear that little ensemble one special day. The family lore is that the set was made by cloistered French nuns and if you look closely at the work involved, it's hard not to believe that.
It truly is a beautiful piece of work and I completely understand why my mother was drawn to it. All 8 of her grandchildren wore it and now it's the next generation's turn. I can't quite believe that my son was the last to wear it 18 years ago. Times flies like a rocket, my friends. I could not resist making him a white whole cloth quilt for him then, so I thought it would be a nice idea to make something special for each child in the next generation as well.
I l-o-v-e linen. It is my go to fabric for summer, but since I leave the garment making to the professionals and have rarely sewed even a napkin of linen, I did not know what I was in for. I could not get this idea out of my head: I wanted to make a baby quilt out of linen. I did my research and contacted several fabric vendors asking for advice. Quite a few cautioned me on the difficulty of working with linen, but that seemed to make me grind my heels in even deeper. I compromised and bought a 50-50 linen cotten blend, and that, as they say, has made all the difference.
The quilt pattern was easy: I've had a book for a long time by Aidan Meehan called Celtic Designs: Spiral Patterns. I am fascinated by spiral patterns and they are a huge inspiration to me. I wanted to use some of the patterns in the quilt, acknowledging Piper's Irish heritage, and when I came across the Waldalgesheim leaf variation, I thought I was onto something. This Celtic engraving was found in a cave in Germany:
Mr. Meehan took this simple leaf pattern, flipped it on itself for a mirror image and look what happened. If bunnies don't belong in baby quilts, I am going to hang up my needle.
So a little more research in the baby quilt department lead me to several sources who wrote that it was a common tradition for a baby in Ireland to wear a shawl on her christening day, usually made of linen. I couldn't stop reading. I found out that French Huguenots (my heritage), who were expert fabric workers, settled in Ireland and formed a nice working relationship with Irish weavers. I guess fabric love is on my genetic code.
If you ever get the urge to quilt with linen, I encourage you to do so. It is incredibly light and soft and my needle glided through the three layers. I used a DMC #12 thread for hand quilting. I finished it during the first six hours of The Roosevelts - a perfect show to have on while working.
Based on a design from Celtic Design: Spiral Patterns by Aidan Meehan, published by Thames & Hudson Ltd., London. Used with permission.