The Baby Quilts Are Ready — Now All We Need Are the Babies

Quilt piecings made of flowered calico in primary colors and black dating to the 1970s. Assembled in the Berkeley, California, quilting studio of Sue Mary Fox. Photo by Barbara Newhall

This one goes to the first grandchild. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Grandchild No. One is due in February, and this time the quilt will be ready.

Faithful readers of this blog will remember the story of the 40-year wait my brother and his wife had before I finally delivered their hand-made wedding gift to them. It was a crazy quilt made of colorful, flowered calico, pieced together on an old Singer sewing machine by me back in my hippie days.

Crazy quilting, it turned out, was way crazier than I expected. On their wedding day, I gave my

Sue Mary Fox in her Berkeley, California, quilting studio working on crazy quilt for Barbara Falconer Newhall. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Sue Mary Fox in her Berkeley, California, quilting studio figuring out how to fit together the stray pieces of calico I’d purchased in the 1970s. Photo by Barbara Newhall

brother and his bride, not a finished quilt, but some pieces awkwardly stitched together in the shape of a diseased kidney. That and a promise that I’d get the thing pulled together by the time they returned from their honeymoon.

Didn’t happen.

The half-made quilt, scruffy and misshapen, lay forgotten for the next forty years in an out-of-the-way drawer, reproaching me every time I happened across it.

Finally, a year or so ago, no longer impecunious and definitely no longer a hippie drop-out, I splurged and hired a Berkeley quilter to finish the job for me. We pared the sprawling thing

Four crazy quilts of mid-twentieth century flowered calico in primary colors are being assembled in the studio of Sue Mary Fox, Berkeley, California. Designed by Barbara Falconer Newhall. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Sue Mary hung the four piecings on the wall so we could match the tops with the backs she’d created from the leftover fabric. Photo by Barbara Newhall

down to a quilt about the size of a baby blanket, and I presented it to my brother and his wife. Yes, they were still married. And no, they hadn’t forgotten that I owed them a quilt.

There were lots of random pieces of the quilt left over. I decided to save them — in case I ever had grandchildren.

When I found out that our first grandchild would be arriving, I headed back over to Sue Mary Fox’s studio in Berkeley with my crazy quilt scraps. Sue Mary figured I had enough material to

Author Barbara Falconer Newhall with the four calico crazy quilts she designed for the four grandchildren she hopes she'll have. Photo by Jon Newhall

Four quilts. Photo by Jon Newhall

make four baby quilts.  Why not go ahead and make up all four, she proposed. It would be so much more efficient to do them all at once. That’s what we did. The first baby quilt was presented at a baby shower earlier this month. And now I’ve got not one, not two, but three extra baby quilts, ready to go.

All I need is three more grandchildren. No pressure, kids.

Don’t miss the first two installments of my 40-year quilting saga at “The Quilt From Hell — Forty Years Later It’s Still Not Finished” and “A Crazy-Making Quilt — Finished at Last.”

Vintage 1970s flowered calico in primary colors in a bundle. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Sue Mary Fox, right, bundled the last remnants of my vintage calico for me . . .

Sue Mary Fox in her Berkeley, California, quilting studio. Barbara Newhall photo

. . . Is there another quilting project in my future? Barbara Newhall photos




  1. Sophie Hunt says:

    Am sorry but I do not like your work. Why don’t you do something else like playing music 🎶 that is a more interesting thing to do with your life. No offense you are ok at art, but I just am not a fan of quilting

    • Hi Sophie. I imagine lots of people aren’t fond of my quilts. The fabric is definitely old-school; I notice that when I see other people’s quilts today. And, as you can tell from my quilting stories, I’m not much good at quilting. Music? I think you would like my attempts at music even less! I hope you enjoy my writing and my photography. Those are two areas where I tend to take myself kinda seriously.

  2. Does Sue Mary knit? I have a couple of kids sweaters that for 1 1/2 years have rested at the “hard” part. The thing is: the kids keep growing.

    I loved the piece.

    • Hi Trudy, Sue Mary probably can knit, but I’m pretty sure she sticks to quilting and other textile arts. I bet you can find someone in your town who will knit you through the hard parts, fora little cash. Someone at a yarn shop?

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