Once Upon a Quilt

When my daughter Kate was just a toddler, I bought a book for her called Kate's Quilt by Kay Chorao. It is just a small little hardcover book, the lovely story of a "child" elephant whose Mother makes her a quilt and it isn't what the "child" wants. I bought it because my daughter's name is Kate and because I make quilts! Little did I know it would lead me on a journey to collect children's books about quilts for 30+ years! I now have over 120 in my collection! Here are just a few...

Lucky for me, when Kate was about 12 I started to work at the best children's bookstore anywhere - Woozles, a wonderful independent children's bookstore in Halifax. They are celebrating their 33rd birthday this fall. I worked there for 12 years and had the opportunity while there to search catalogues and the old microfiche (before computers took over our lives) for titles with the words quilt, patchwork, applique etc in the title. The store manager, Trudy, also got involved and kept her eye open for me. We had an understanding after I "retired" that she would always order any books she thought looked like what I wanted/needed for my collection.

My collection covers all ages from infants through to young adults. There are board books, picture books, easy readers and chapter books. There are books that I love that just have quilts in the illustrations but the story is not about the quilts. There are books that the illustrator has used quilting techniques in the making of the illustrations.

There is fabric and stitching in the above book illustrations.

Soon I realized that other quilters might be interested in my collection and I wanted to share it. The best way was to take pictures (slides) of the illustrations and give slide lectures to quilt guilds. This was all before the days of the internet so letters had to be written to publishers and authours/illustrators to get permission to take and share the images. All that took some time but eventually I got permission from all I wanted to except one, the publisher of that first book Kate's Quilt, EP Dutton (Penguin). Their response was to send me a legal document to be signed by me and their request for several hundreds of dollars for the rights to do this. I laughed! I wrote back and told them they had the wrong idea and explained again what I wanted to do. I thinner envelope came back with fewer pages of a legal document, still asking for lots of money! I again replied that they just didn't get it and thanked them for their time. So I never did take pictures of that book! But I do tell the story! 

Two of above books are by Canadian authors Paulette Bourgeois (of Franklin the Turtle fame) and Barbara Haworth-Attard.

It was so interesting to receive letters back from authors/illustrators who were just thrilled with my idea and gave me their whole hearted support. No one else turned me down. I am now in the process of scanning all those slides and I am looking forward to sharing them again someday. I have shared them quilt guilds in North America and England with children's literature groups and librarians and schools. One particular grade one class was a delight. Their teacher had them bring in their quilts (if they had one) and they strung them up around the classroom on a clothesline. They had also worked before I came to search their library and see what books they could find and then they made drawings of quilts! Another teacher received a grant and purchased all the books that were in print for her school library. Lucky school!

The above books are written by quilters Janet Bolton (England) and the beloved Jean Ray Laury (USA).

Calgary quilter Cheryl Arkison has been writing a series called Little Feet, Pins and Needles on her blog. Cheryl writes about her series - "Welcome to Week 1 of the series on quilting with little ones around. I will be highlighting tips and tricks to making the most of your quilting time when you've got little ones underfoot. Whether you are a new mom trying to find time for your hobby or a new quilter trying to figure out just how to make it work, there will be loads of info here to get you sewing in mad fits. Along the way please share your own tips and tricks." Be sure and visit Cheryl's blog for something great tips and ideas for quilting with kids underfoot.

Cheryl had asked me if my book list was posted anywhere online so that she could post a link to it. I took that nudge and decided to post it here, something I had been thinking about for a while. Just click on the button to the left called "Books for Kids".

Do check amazon.ca or .com for availability, some of the books may now be out of print. A good source for those that are O/P is AbeBooks I have some catching up to do in that department!