Crazy Quilt - A Collaborative Birthday Gift

My "Sister-from-another-mother" turns 60. I needed something very special for her. It had to be hand made (of course!): It had to come from the heart. A quilt would be lovely. Sure, I could do it all myself, but wouldn't it be so much better, even more meaningful if a group of her friends were part of it? Each one bringing their own story, sentiment, and hand to the whole?

I contacted friends, and those friends helpfully reached out to other friends, and soon we had a quilt posse, armed with funny anecdotal ideas, needles, threads and scissors.

A color palette was chosen from my stash of Alabama Chanin organic cotton jersey, general parameters set, a deadline put in place.

I made a "quilt map". I used the free-flowing pattern from my Woodland Critter quilt and added a row of rectangles along one side. I cut out all the base pieces, two layers each. As none of her friends lived in my town, I mailed swatch kits to the others involved.  Each person would create their own swatch design using the chosen color palette. We all felt a child-like giddiness as it was to be a surprise!

Each swatch I received back in the mail was like Christmas morning, opening that special package.
Here is a school of pup fish from one friend, reminiscent of a group camping trip taken years ago.

Another dear friend of hers sent this joyful canine for the dog lover.

Leaping foxes for the animal lover from yet another friend.

Another member of the posse sent Lama Love, for the birthday girl had raised and kept lamas for decades.

See the llama in the yellow portion? That's a Peruvian knitted finger puppet sewn on.

I had saved the remnants of the rooster and the rose from the first quilt I had made. I was so happy to find the perfect use for them!

Here's a shot of that first quilt made from an Alabama Chanin DIY kit.

And here from another friend, Musical notes dancing about as she plays the violin and guitar and thrives on music.

Flowers and plants for the avid outdoors-woman and gardener extraordinaire.

And this pretty square to represent her adopted, rescued greyhounds.

The family tree, rooted into the map of her home city where she grew up and still lives, surrounded by family and friends.

And some sweet  little details here and there.

I gleaned some great ideas for the lichen covered tree from this youtube video.

Here's the process for this funky, yellow patch.

I used a disappearing pen to make a grid; stitched in the middle of each; then cut along the lines.

When washed the edges will curl and look like this.

I created this stencil for a Camp Stitches class I taught.

I appliqued the snipped petals from it for this bit of embroidery.

The quilt was constructed with Coats and Clarks buttoncraft thread; then the edges were blanket stitched with embroidery floss to finish off this soft throw.

I enjoy seeing the back side stitches on my other quilts, knots and all, and I knew my friend would be the same, so I did not cover them up.

Each and every stitch of this quilt is imbued with love and friendship and best wishes. What started out as a little kernel of an idea, blossomed into a gathering of friends, celebrating our mutual comrade with a showering of affection.

Happy Birthday, my dear, sweet friend ~~~ Cheers!


  1. So awesome and I am so glad I was able to be part of this with you.

    1. Hi Dana~
      Me too!! Thank you for all our beautiful help~~

  2. this si a lovely post, patti. i made the dog. i love how it all came out. and reading your blog about all the details was wonderful.cheers!to you

    1. I adore your joyful dog and so does Miss K. I'm so happy we got to "meet".

  3. Replies
    1. Hey "Foxy", I'm so glad you joined in!!