In the family I grew up in, none of us were attached to baby blankets, so I was caught off guard when my first baby grew attached to a quilt I had been given at his baby shower. He wanted it in the car, at church, and all around the house. When I was expecting my second child, I went and picked out material for “the blanket.”
My more experienced mother-in-law whom we lived by also gave me some wise advice. Her kids had worn out their baby blankets long before they were done with them, and she suggested that I buy enough material for a second blanket down the road. (Most patterned material you can’t find again a few years later.) I kept it simple–just bought a square of the material (it comes 45″ wide, so I got 45″ of it for the one blanket), cheap batting, and a back. I sewed them together, flipped them inside out, closed the opening. Then you can tie it, or machine quilt (which I tried and found I liked–you can buy a quilting foot that makes it so you can go in any direction you like).
I made the blanket, and then also a mini, foot square blanket out of the same material. This little version of the “special” blanket came to be known at the “car” blanket, because we came to the understanding that the smaller blanket could go with us places, but the big one had to stay in the house. (Later kids called it the “little” blanket.) A very helpful compromise.
Child #4’s blanket lasted a little longer, and I was busy, so she didn’t get her new blanket until her 6th birthday. She was demanding a larger blanket and certain changes which made the process a little more difficult–maybe it’s personality, but I think 5 is perhaps a better age than 6 for making the switch. And I’m not sure how smart it was of me to ask her opinion . . . these kids with definite (and often impossible to satisfy) opinions can be challenging. But she’s happy with the result, and I am too. The top picture shows when she first got her blanket (I didn’t get it done before she was born, but as long as it’s not too late, it doesn’t matter)–the underside of the big blanket and the little blanket. Below shows the same girl with her old blanket and pillow under her and her new blanket on top. (We haven’t quite made the full transition, but it hasn’t been a problem as the old blanket isn’t shredded like the boys’ were.) The picture doesn’t show well the difference in how the old blanket has faded and the material is worn to transparency.
With my youngest child, I did my personal fanciest handiwork which again stretched my skills (and time and energy, but I enjoyed being creative). I ended up with a couple small flaws that I covered up with a couple small patches. When I showed a friend the quilt, confessing all the flaws of course, she cheerfully declared that she loved those parts, and that was what made the quilt special and most valuable–you could never get such a thing from a store. What a wonderful thing to say. Ever since, I’ve loved the little patches, instead of them reminding me of my shortcomings.
My oldest child is 17 and over it now, but he used to ask me about who made his special blanket. I would tell him about this friend from my youth, but it was someone he only met once or twice. Thanks to her, a meaningful tradition was started in our family. But I liked being able to tell the rest of my kids that I made their blanket, and that when they wrap up in it, it’s me hugging them. (The same goes for nieces and nephews!) They’ve never commented on the quality of the work.