A special birthday gift

December 1, 2012

Last July my family celebrated my only and favourite sister’s birthday. It was special. A birthday with a round number, the type that is more striking than a yearly celebration, you know? We had planned  a beautiful celebration for my sweet little sister. Each of us had a personal and particular idea for a gift. I had mine too but I needed everone’s help. By now, you should know what I had in mind 😉

A quilt of course ! Here it is :  our common project and my personal gift for Françoise’s birthday. Improvisation for the sewing part but not for the preparation ! When I asked family members and friends to give or send me one or two pieces of their used clothing, they did not know what I was up to (at least not all of them) but they joyfully agreed. The most difficult part was to get some used clothing from my sister herself. She was not meant to know anything about our project.

quilt Françoise, 5

Spring and particularly Spring cleaning helped me. Some time in February I told Françoise of the great feeling I was experiencing in sorting out my wardrobe, getting rid of clothes I no longer wore even though I liked them a lot. Which I absolutely meant.

“What a good idea ! I think it’s time for me to do the same.” said my nice  sister.

Taking a deep breath I told her : “Great ! why don’t you send some of your used clothes to me ? I know what to do with  them”.

And this is how it all started. After a few weeks my sewing room looked like a “souk” or African market. I was a bit panicked before sorting out the clothes I could use or not (too beautiful to bring my scissors close to them). The leftover garments I gave to an “Emmaus” charity shop.

The overall blue material in the quilt comes from a pair of linen trousers my sister wore and the grey stripes used be a shirt  belonging to her companion.This silk blouse and black velvet pullover, for instance, were amongst the favourite clothes worn by Françoise. I hesitated a long time before cutting through them but I knew she would love to find pieces of them again on her quilt. Underneath the block, Ninio-the-Beagle is “stuck” in total admiration 😉

A precious block made of one of my mother’s aprons bordered by a piece of her embroidered handkerchiefs. The hook belonged to my grandfather and the heart is sewed in one of my grandmother’s dish cloths. The three of them were very present in our hearts all along the birthday celebration.

Some family men’s  silk ties that have shrunk quite a bit.

T-shirts from family and friends.

quilt F. VeniceRomantic and beautiful, one of Françoise’s  T-shirts and Summer skirt.

quilt F. mom & dadScarf and pyjama as a flower.

Sons, nephews, cousins, friends: their T-shirts and shirts tags

A weaved T-shirt and the cuff of a cotton blouse.

quilt F. Dom & F 2

Precious  : one of my sister’s best friend clothing, her checked black and white trousers and rose t-shirt. My sister immediately remembered those clothes.

“We all love you, Françoise” (title of the quilt)

quilt Francoise, détail, coeursWith all our heart !

Françoise was So surprised ! and delighted. Such  excitement as she tried to recognize what belonged to whom, including her. A lot of fun. And a happy quilting that brought back memories, places, events. Sewing together all kinds of materials was not exactly easy but I enjoyed the slightly wonky look of this quilt. Different.

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36 Responses to “A special birthday gift”

  1. sybil said

    What a beautiful, touching, brilliant gift. Your sister is very lucky.

  2. montucky said

    What a wonderful and thoughtful and beautiful gift!

  3. Marie said

    Isabelle,
    So heartwarming to read about what you did for your beloved sister. I could feel the love you stitched into the beautiful quilt.
    xo ❤

    • Marie, our thoughts crossed. Just opened my PC to write and thank you for the lovely fabrics I received yesterday. Love those patterns and shades. I am very grateful for them and your thoughts too. Have a pleasant and relaxing Sunday xo

  4. Karma said

    J’aime cette courtepointe! What a wonderful thing to do for your sister!

  5. Truels said

    Who would not be surprised, honored and happy to receive such a beautiful and wonderful gift – so full of personal memories and their own and others’ finest garments! Isa – what an amazingly beautiful and unique work of art you have manufactured ​​here! I can not stop admiring all the details!!!!

    • Thank you so much for your appreciation, Truels, I sewed this quilt with much love for my sister, it was a pleasure to see it grow week after week with all the various contributions from the family and friends. I am very grateful to all.

  6. Giiid said

    Isa, this is such a beautiful and touching thing to do! You´ve spend a lot of energy to think out all the creative challenges there was, in order to make this very artistically quilt for your dear sister, – which in a symbolic way shows how we all are like small pieces of each others life, – and part of a big beautiful quilt. 😉

    It was interesting and informative to see the detail photos.

  7. Birgitte, how I love your words “we are like small pieces of each others’ life” , part of the bigger universe that could be seen as a quilt. So true. I will remember this image. What I meant to do in sewing this quilt was to create a large patchwork of love around my sister. A very unique person dear to us all.

    Thank you Birgitte for your touching words.

  8. What a beautiful and VERY thoughtful gift, Isa.

  9. shoreacres said

    Isn’t it pure delight to make such a surprise for someone? There’s the pleasure of the finished gift, of course – but all of the anticipation is a gift to those who participate in the preparation.

    One of the hardest lessons I had to learn as a child was to WAIT to give a gift! Once I had a birthday or Christmas gift for my mother or father, it was all I could do to contain myself. I always imagined I had the perfect gift for them – but in this case, you surely did give your sister a perfect gift!

    • Hello Linda, always nice to read your words and the thoughts that this post remind you of. Anticipation is a gift too, as you said. And a great excitement. I remember my boys coming back home from school with a fancily wrapped gift behind their back and telling me in a conspiring tone : “We have a gift for you but are not allowed to tell you about it…” 😉

      Thank you for reminding me also about this anticipation.

  10. Isa,
    that is such a precious gift you made for you sister. So thoughtful! I love the hook from your grandfather’s clothing bound with so many memories and stories in one quilt.
    Very special gift indeed! Happy Birthday to you sister!

    • Nice to read you, Sujata and to know you enjoyed looking at my sister’s quilt. I know it is a real pleasure for me to visit you too. Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season and wonderful journey. I will transmit your wishes to my sister, thank you.

  11. Tammy said

    You are such a wonderful sister. What a great gift! I know she will cherish it always.

  12. sonali said

    What a lovely gift for your sister! Firstly, wishing her a happy belated birthday!! I love the quilts. All are such adorable patterns. How can such cute ones exist? You have a magic in your hands. May God bless both you sisters! 😀

  13. Sartenada said

    Un super cadeau. J’apprécie beaucoup de l’artisanat et de la courtepointe est vraiment magnifique.

    Belle journée.

  14. I hope to make a quilt like this some day soon. This is beautiful in so many ways. Happy New Year to you and yours.

  15. Janice said

    What a lovely surprise for your sister, Isa. The quilt is beautiful.

    • Tes commentaires me font très plaisir Janice, merci. Un quilt spécial, le premier du genre que j’ai créé. Je vais en refaire un cette année en souvenir de ma maman, partie à Noël il y a 9 ans.

      • Janice said

        Comment est le quilt en souvenir de ta maman, Isa? J’espère que tu a fais un bon début.

      • J’ai trié les divers tissus et vêtements que je prévois d’utiliser. Je réfléchis maintenant à la forme (style) que je vais donner à ce quilt. Peut-être vais-je simplement improviser au fur et à mesure ?

  16. gonerustic said

    Wow – this is amazing! What a fantastic idea, and wonderful gift. I love it! =D

  17. fanfoulon said

    I am the one who has the incredible chance, the honour and the happiness to have Isabelle as a sister. Every day that passes, I get more conscious of this special grace, this marvellous present my wonderful parents made to me.
    I am the one who was enough fortunate to receive this fantastic gift, maybe the most precious I ever received. I am calling it « mon quilt d’amour ». Loving quilt because of every second, every of the tens of thousands seconds Isabelle dedicated to it, thinking of me. Loving quilt because of her tireless collection of garments, fabrics and other treasures from all those I love and who love me in return. Loving quilt because there are so many memories, so many different stories, so much laughter, emotion and dear faces behind each piece of fabric. I love every tiny detail of the whole. And it is just impossible for me to describe my amazement, my strong emotion when receiving it. A whole encyclopedia would not suffice to describe Isabelle. So I will only say that Isa is just a great, a unique person. And she is MY sister!

    • Bonjour et merci, cher fanfoulon. Your words are so touching, your thoughts so generous and heartfelt, so typically you. I am truly happy you enjoyed your loving quilt. It was made with love for you, my little sis’, with gratitude for all you are to me and others. It was made also to be used 😉 wrap yourself in it, bring out a good book, a cup of tea close by, read or dream, in a few words : use it ! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being who you are. Bisous.

  18. So creative, inventive and beautiful. I know its challenging, when the clothing comes from so many people with different styles. You made a fantastic heart quilt!

  19. Thanks a lot Sherri. You are a great inspiration for me. It was indeed a challenge and a joy to sew all the different clothing together. I really appreciate your visit and comment.

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