Family Quilt

My back is doing so much better this week, but I have to tell you about the offending project that did it in.  I was working on a quilt for my brother’s birthday.  This little baby has been on deck for two years and I promised Mike in March that I’d have the quilt finished for his special day.  I’m proud to say I got it to him only eleven days late. (YES!)

This gift also comes with one of the sweetest stories that I have the privilege to share.

Originally, the quilt was made up of plain brown and plain yellow cotton fabric.  It was SO simple; a large panel of the brown on one side and a large panel of the yellow on the other. It also had a brown squirrel or chipmunk or some other rodent type creature appliquéd in the center of the yellow fabric.  You’ll have to use your imagination since there are no photos.  I won the quilt at camp some time in the early 80’s and had no idea it would still be a part of my life 30+ years later.  And I’m pretty sure had the original quilter known that it would still be a family treasure, they would’ve put a little more time and thought into the fabric and style of the quilt too.  How do I know? Read on…

When I got home from camp, some how my brother commandeered the quilt and it forever became his.  Fast forward a decade and a half and he was getting ready to head off to college and still scrunching his 6ft long body under this tiny square quilt.  He desperately needed something more, so I made a blanket from the yellow and brown cotton.

I added additional flannel squares to it to make a larger, more college-worthy quilt.

And had I known that I’d be writing about it today, I probably would’ve put more time and thought into the fabric and style of the quilt.  I picked fabrics that had yellows and browns in it.  They also had a lot of dark blue.  This was the first quilt I had EVER made and I went VERY simple.

I really had no idea what I was doing.  I even used yarn to “quilt” the fabric together like the original one had been done.

Jump ahead another 15 years and I again found myself with Mike’s blanket in my possession.  My brother is now married with a family… and his quilt is disintegrating.

Interestingly enough, the original yellow and brown cotton fabrics are still holding up. It’s the flannels that I used that have begun to fall apart.

The hardest part of redoing this quilt for a second time was figuring out the fabric.  My brother asked that I use as much of the existing quilt as possible so I wanted new fabric that would compliment it.  Also, since my sweet sister-in-law not only married my brother, but apparently this blanket, I wanted to create something that she would enjoy having in their home too.

My favorite line of quilt fabric is by MODA so I set out to find something in their line that would work.  The MODA fabric I found is beautiful with a masculine vibe and something I would love to have in our home.  I’m hoping that Mike and Gina like it as well.

I was able to cut apart the old squares and intermix the new fabric for a cohesive look.

The final quilt is updated and free of frayed edges.

Photographing a piece at this scale is a bit of a challenge.  Here is a closer look.

For the back, I just pulled in a simple chocolate fabric that I had also used on the front.

I just got off the phone with my brother and he is thrilled to be reunited with his first love.

Happy Birthday, Mike!

Are you a quilter? What is the most challenging project you’ve done for a close family member? Do you have a family treasure that continues to boomerang into your life? I think sometimes those items come with the best stories.


  1. Tammi says:

    Wow! It looks so great. I love that it’s masculine but not typical (like sports or fish or cars or stupid). I really, really like this whole story and the outcome! And I hope you feel proud of your work.

    • Danielle says:

      Thanks, Tammi. I really, REALLY wanted to find fabric with squirrels or chipmunks on it as a nod to the appliqué that was on the original quilt. But the only fabric that I found with those kinds of critters was at Fabric Depot. They had bolts with both squirrels or chipmunks… it was between the fabric with possums and skunks. It was all life like and awful! I only wish I had purchased some to send to my brother earlier with a note saying “What do you think for the quilt?” Ha!

  2. Stacey says:

    Sometimes you freak me out Danielle!!! So much talent and done so perfectly. What else is freaky is that for 2 weeks I’ve been thinking about how much I would love to make a quilt. Something modern and quirky.

    Such a great (and sweet) story behind it all. We got Richie’s grandmother’s guilt after we were married. It was used, abused – lots of fights over who would get it. (he usually won) I think it just disintegrated one day… too much love took a toll on it!

    What an amazing gift. Mike must be totally blown away by his sister’s talent. That baby would be my cuddle up and watch TV blanket every night. Such great colors and patterns for a guy. Glad you back is better!!

    • Danielle says:

      Stacey… you are always too sweet! Just don’t look at the photos too closely, you may see just how perfectly imperfect it is. Quilts are really fun to make… especially if they can be quirky and you can kinda do your own thing. I’d be willing to bet you could come up with a really amazing modern one. In fact, I think that would be a great idea for the new direction you are going with your blog. Wait… your sewing one right now aren’t you?! 🙂

      That’s so awesome that you guys enjoyed Richie’s grandmother’s quilt. Do you still have it or did you have to let it go? I think it would be really cool (in about 15 years) when the yellow and brown cotton from my brother’s quilt begins to disintegrate, to frame a section of the quilt. At that point, it will officially be an antique and should be on display behind glass. Until then, he has made sure that everyone in his house knows “Hands Off the Quilt”.

    • Danielle says:

      Thanks, Kelly. He told me that all the kids have been instructed that his blanket is off limits. I’m thinking he seriously may be buried with the thing. 🙂

  3. Alex @ northstory says:

    Now that’s an upcycle with a great story! You have the patience of a saint and the talent to match. I can’t get over how amazing the updated one looks. And the time it took? Wow. Your brother is very lucky to have a sister like you!

  4. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes says:

    Oh my lord, Danielle. Seriously. I was going blind/ squinting/ and getting frustrated just READING this. It’s a wonder *only* your back went out! I cannot imagine trying to rebuild something like that. I have a pile of my great grandmother’s quilts… I am packing them up and sending them to you to rebuild them!

    I do not have the patience for quilting. Or anything nearly that intricate. Especially when I was however old you were when you made the first one! That is incredibly, incredibly, incredibly thoughtful of you, and so darling that Mike still has it and clearly treasures it.

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

    • Danielle says:

      Thanks, Victoria. I definitely don’t consider myself a quilter; it requires patience and detail that are beyond what I call “a good time”.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and Paul! Hope you have a holiday that would make Betty Draper green with envy. Cheers!

  5. Mike says:

    Version 3 of the quilt is AWESOME!!!
    Gina is especially glad you got the old “college” smell out from version 2.

    Sorry to hear you had to throw out your back on my account, but I think I’m worth it. 🙂

    btw, David has been eye-balling the quilt. I’ve already told him ‘hands off’


    • Danielle says:

      Bwhahaha!! How could you deny that sweet boy anything?!

      I’m so glad you’re happy with the quilt and hoarding it from your children. You are worth it. 😛


  6. Gina says:


    I love the quilt! Thank you so much. It is beautiful! The reason why that is so important is because it goes over my bedspread (yes over it). I am so glad that you are feeling better. David does seem to be more attached to the quilt than you would expect from a baby but I guess that must be gentic.

    • Danielle says:

      Oh Gina… I’m so glad you like it! I hope it compliments the bedspread and looks great in your room. You deserve it since you will have it FOREVER! 🙂

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