Tuesday, February 25, 2014

a quilt for Henry

The second of our three grandchildren was born right on his due date February 20. Henry Bennett arrived in fine form, we are so grateful. (The third, a girl, is due March 12. Her quilt is finished and posted here.)

I was relieved to be able to finish his quilt the weekend before he arrived, well actually on Monday. I pieced it Saturday, quilted Sunday, then sewed on the binding Monday. He arrived Thursday. Phew!

This quilt is full of my brother Bennett, who passed away in 1996 at age 47. He and I were close. I used a linen table cloth of his for years after he died, and it began to get threadbare.

Bennett's table cloth from India

Because Henry was to have his name, I used that cloth in the quilt (the parts that were not threadbare, of course) and paired all the fabrics around it. I also wanted it to be a "hippie" quilt. Although Bennett wasn't a true hippie, much of his outlook was shaped that way. He wore a black arm band at his 1970 college graduation to protest the Vietnam War. He was non-materialistic, and his taste in music shaped my own. (CSNY, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, James Taylor, so many more) He wore soft, worn chambray or flannel shirts.

Bennett's table cloth linen is the floral one
and also the border with red;
I'm sure this was made in India

I decided I wanted to design a free-form quilt, and this was not easy. I cut the pieces at the beginning to place them in a composition I liked. And then as I began to piece it, I adjusted the pieces to fit into each other. I wanted it to be more folk art than precision pieces. This process was organic for me and felt just right as I connected with Bennett.

I really love linen, and I ordered a second special one from Australia, with cats, birds and trees. Bennett loved nature, as do I, and I wanted to introduce Henry to this love.

I tried to use the new walking foot, but I could not get it to align with the needle when I installed it. So I used the regular foot. Since finishing, I found a helpful piece of advice at a quilting blog to simply push the foot to the side until it aligns. It sounds intuitive, but when you're working with it, you'd think that would break it. I will try it before starting the next.

Henry and I had a little photo shoot yesterday on his quilt. He seemed to like it just fine. He already rolls from side to side.

Henry Bennett, age 4 days

In this picture, Henry looks like his brother James, who is now 2


  1. I can't begin to tell you how soulful this whole thing is to me, Ruthie! All of it...the hippie, linen, free-form connection to Bennett, the colors, the time and effort you put into it, the finish date...and most of all, seeing Henry Bennett on the quilt. This is just WONDERFUL and I couldn't be happier or more propud of you for being his grandma.

  2. I couldn't have said it better my very own self.

  3. I just found your new blog today and was enchanted by your little new grandson – he looks so sweet. Then I learnt you will have another grandchild in a couple of days … how wonderful is that! I bet you are quite excited. I did not know you quilted and are quite good at it. The colors of your quilt are so soothing. I always wished I would make a quilt but retirement takes too much of my time … and planning trips. We will be going on another one this year, in various countries (hopefully can get into St Petersburg, Russia) and several stops such as Tallinn, Estonia, Amsterdam and Brussels, and of course Paris. The big quilt show in Roswell at Bulloch Home (the home of Theodore Roosevelt’s mom) will start next week and I know I’ll take too many pictures. This year the theme is “Reflections” – it will be fun to see what the quilters come up with. Just looking at your baby grandson again – he is really adorable – perfect infant. Congratulations to all.