Wedding Anniversary Commission – or baby quilt?

anniversary commission quilt

Today I wanted to write about the quilt I was commissioned for a wedding anniversary, a story that ended up being quite interesting and sort of funny!

Through my daughter’s work selling crafts in the town of Hot Springs, NC, I had a chance to interact with some of the people there, in particular with a woman who owned a long-standing gift shop in the area (incidentally this woman was my daughter’s mail carrier’s mother, which just goes to show how things can develop in real small towns!)

Not only did I create many quilts for her shop, but she introduced me to the nice folks over at Gentry Hardware, who presented me with an interesting challenge.

The husband wished to commission a quilt to present to his wife on their 30th wedding anniversary. The only pointer I received was to make a quilt in ‘vintage 30s style’. So I simply found a pattern common to the era, and used a pastel palette that I knew to be popular of the time period as well, not caring much that at least one of the blocks was full of dancing teddy bears and other infantile motifs.

This became an issue when, a week or so before the project was due, and after my having spent at least a week creating this thing (it was not a large quilt), I get a call from the shop owner facilitating the transaction: “We are wondering why you made a child’s quilt? The husband is worried that she will not care for it”. When pressed, it turned out that just the small presence of a few teddy bears was enough to hopelessly put the idea in people’s minds of a child’s quilt!

I felt silly at my huge oversight, but in the end it’s not that the teddy bears themselves made it a child’s quilt: it was the multitude of things. The quilt itself was not much bigger than 4 x5, which is a child size. The pastel colours, though nice and era-appropriate, are also hues more used with kids. Adding dancing bears (small though they were) was essentially the last straw. This has been a lesson to me in regards to choosing the fabric pattern, especially when elements of the quilt, such as size and colour, are conspiring to make things look a certain way.

alleged baby quilt (offending bears on top right)

Though the folks involved were happy to pay me, take the quilt and hope for the best, I decided I couldn’t bear giving someone something they didn’t like, if I could do anything about it. Lucky for me, I had begun working on the quilt shown above for my own purposes. It happened to be a similar size and colour scheme even though the pattern didn’t have much overtly to do with the 30s, it had no teddy bears or dancing bunnies or anything even remotely childish! But I wasn’t completely finished. I called them and gave myself 2 days to finish, which I did.

They loved it! I was incredibly relieved. I heard later that the wife loved the gift, but she did eventually find out about the ‘baby quilt snafu’, which my daughter and her had a good laugh about once she went to Gentry Hardware to pick up some things.

I was pretty happy with the result, and grateful that I happened to have that other random quilt top laying around. Though making someone uncomfortable made me very unhappy and inevitably I came to question my judgment in picking patterns, etc, the lesson I learned was very valuable.

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