Idling + Biography Quilt plans

I think someone puts a reverse magnet in my sewing room every December. Since I started this hobby o’ mine almost three years ago, I do not know that I have ever sat down at my machine this time of year. I am ok with that because I generally do not give handmade gifts for Christmas, so there is no pressure to finish projects.

My idle machine does not mean that my mind has been idle. I am back to dreaming of quilts to make and projects to work on.

There is one long term project that I am itching to start… biography quilts for my girls.

These quilts will tell the story of each of my girls, in a subtle way. To someone not in the know, the quilt will look like any other sampler quilt. But, there will be meaning behind every design and pattern in it.

I made up the name term Biography Quilt. There may already be a name for this type of quilt. I am sure someone has done something like this before.

Each girl will receive her quilt after graduating from high school. I envision each taking their quilt with them to college and then napping under it and cuddling with it.

Each year of their lives will be documented with a quilt block. I say “each year,” but really it is each stage of their lives. Because of the timing of my girls’ birthdays, there is not a clean way to jump from toddlerhood to preschool, so the toddlerhood block spans about 1½ years for my girls (12 months until ~2½). Once my girls reach school age, I am documenting their lives by grade instead of by year. There will be 18 blocks spanning birth unitl 12th grade.

Since 18 blocks do not make an even quilt layout, I am adding two additional blocks. One will represent their past (family history?) and the other will represent their future (college, plans, aspirations). I am still deciding how to handle these two extra blocks. I may change how I do them later if I think of a better solution. The blocks are 12″ finished. After adding in the sashing and border, the quilts should finish around 62″ x 76″.

Biography Quilt layout

Even though these quilts will not be finished for another 13 – 17 years, I am already planning the binding and backing (it is not unusual for me to plan my backing and binding at the beginning). For the backing I need four yards and for the binding need about a half yard. I am eyeing some of the Flea Market Fancy re-prints for all three quilts’ backing and binding. The prints and colors of FMF are timeless so for me they are a great way to go.

At this point, I have not made a single block. I am ready to start making blocks for these quilts; to get current with where each of my girls are in their lives. The blocks and most fabrics are planned out, I just need to get to sewing!

If you want to see what I have planned so far, you can check out the one working link below.

  • Mallory’s Biography Quilt plan
  • Chelsea’s Biography Quilt plan (need to create the page/graphics)
  • Tessa’s Biography Quilt plan (need to create the page/graphics)

P.S. I will be documenting the quilts and the blocks details for the girls so that they understand what everything means.

This is my plan… things may change once I try to execute. 😉

[BACKGROUND: I am in the process of making “Biography Books” (i.e. scrapbooks) for the girls. The books are divided into the same structure as the quilt blocks (0-1, toddler, preschool 2, preschool 3, etc.).]

Once I complete a quilt block, I will take picture of it and then handwrite a description of the quilt block. I will explain the block name and why all of the elements in the block relate to my daughter from that particular year.

(For example, for the preschool 3 quilt block to the right, the Spider Web block was chosen because at that point my oldest’s favorite show was Spider-man (not sure how that got started). For her 4th birthday party, we did an art party with a rainbow theme. And then the fabrics in each of the colors has meaning behind it, like, the purple fabric has crowns on it and she was a purple princess for Halloween that year.)

The picture of the block will be printed as a 5″x5″ photo and the description will be written on a piece of 5″x 5½” piece of card stock. Those two elements will be attached to a 6″ x 12″ piece of kraft paper cardstock which will be inserted into a 6″ x 12″ page protector and added to the appropriate year in the Biography Book.

As I make blocks and write the descriptions, I will update this page to show how it looks in real life since my mock-up may not be very clear.



6 thoughts on “Idling + Biography Quilt plans

  1. vintagemodernquilts | Lisa says:

    Lucia, you are setting the bar HIGH for moms everywhere! 🙂 The idea behind your biography quilts very much reminds me of Baltimore Album quilts. Each block, each fabric, even the flowers chosen have a meaning to the creator. Perhaps you can incorporate some of the Baltimore Album techniques into your quilt – specifically inking would really add some detail to your blocks.


  2. Dawn says:

    Hi Just happened on your blog from doing a bit of hopping today…I love it…noticed you hadn’t blogged for a little bit… hope all is well in your neck of the woods….I understand the busy-ness of three little girls.. esp at holiday time….I say the biography quilt idea is fabulous…what an heirloom for your little babies…
    Happy stitching
    Hugs Dawn x


  3. Dree says:

    What a great idea! And I agree, the idea sounds like a Baltimore Album Quilt, though those have a very distinct look.

    And here I buy each of my kids an ornament at Christmas that presents their interests over the last year. It is tons of fun for them to unpack that box each year, and to go through our ornament souvenirs box. I think your quilts will be well-loved and appreciated. I hope your girls appreciate the incredible amount of thought and planning going into them 🙂


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