As a new first-time mother in 1978, I was elated with the baby showers and gifts bestowed upon me when I was pregnant with my first baby. My heart was filled with delight and I laughed with excitement as I opened numerous baby gifts before Amanda, our first daughter, was even born. After my husband and I brought her home from the hospital, more baby gifts were presented after her arrival.
But one baby gift stands out to me in a very special way to this very day. Words escaped me as I opened a box with an extraordinary baby quilt. This quilt was the handiwork of my mother-in-law, Becky Van Vleet (yes, we had the same name), who had confided with my husband, Troy, several months earlier about making a memory baby quilt.
As my eyes roved around this special quilt, I noticed that each square was unique. You see, my mother-in-law had previously contacted many family members and friends about this baby quilt. She mailed a cotton square with specific instructions to sew a design, add an applique, do a cross-stitch, etc. that would be meaningful to our baby and our family.
Back in these days, we had no idea if we were having a boy or girl. So naturally all the squares were generic in design and color. But when they were assembled together, the end result of this baby quilt was not only colorful, but lovely for our first beautiful daughter.
I displayed this quilt in Amanda’s nursery for quite some time for all to see. Actually, I could not take my eyes off it. When Amanda was old enough to sit up, I would place her on this quilt with some baby toys. Not only was it fun for me to watch her explore her little toys, my eyes would scan all of the squares which were so personal to me, from my family and friends whom I held dear to my heart.
When three more daughters were added to our growing family, my mother-in-law graciously repeated this quilt gift gesture. I think she knew these quilts would become keepsakes through the years and her little granddaughters could treasure them as adults.
Did my mother-in-law create memories with these quilts? Absolutely! And did I want to preserve these memories? Yes, for sure. Creating and preserving memories is the theme of my website. I would love to hear from my readers. Do any of you have memory quilts? Or perhaps other treasures you have preserved for family stories? What ideas do you have for preserving keepsakes?
Belle and Ava Turner, Amanda’s daughters, my sweet granddaughters, are proudly displaying their mother’s baby quilt. By the way, several of my readers have their own little squares on this first quilt and the others that followed, from long ago—you know who you are!
So glad Grandma took the time to do this and that I have a quilt too! So many precious hand made keepsakes from her!
Becky Van Vleet
I am too, Tavia. So many friends and family members were involved in all the quilts. I think it was rewarding and fun for Grandma!
Becky, I think I had a hand in making that little quilt. I have quilts made by both my grandmothers, my mother, my mother-in-law, and even Dan’s grandfather, who took up quilting when he was an old man. Most quilts tell stories. I look at my quilts and find pieces of my childhood dresses. Old quilts were made of necessity. People had poorly heated homes and needed quilts to keep their family warm on cold nights. The scraps of fabric used in those quilts were varied and rarely “matched.” Many quilts today are made as hobbies, or for display. Fabrics are chosen carefully to coordinate. I love reading your posts, Becky. Keep up the good work!
Becky Van Vleet
Yes, Debbie, your square is on the quilt! In fact, I think you have one on all four quilts. 🙂 You are right, the older quilts told stories. And I would guess that even today’s quilts, made for display or created as a hobby, probably have their stories too, but represented in a different kind of way!