The Quilt Scout
by Mary Fons
BABIES, QUILTS, BABY QUILTS
In summer, one of my best friends gave birth to her first child. I had the good fortune to be in the delivery room when she arrived that incredible Saturday morning in July.
Babies—especially when they are sleeping soundly or blowing bubbles —are charming and cute. Though I realize a fair amount of readers of this column are rabidly devoted grandmothers, I’m going to take my life in my hands and say it: Baby Julia is the most charming and cutest of all the babies that ever drooled on the earth. Well, she is!
I call this one “Julia Reclining With Quilt.” Photo: Heather Kinion
It could be her sparkly eyes and the way she likes to kick her legs, but I have asked around and it turns out this sparkly eyes and kicky legs come somewhat standard in a baby. I’m not a mom, not yet an aunt, and never did much babysitting, so I don’t have a lot of experience around new humans, it’s true; still, I maintain Julia has extra spark, extra kick, extra brilliance. Her mother agrees with me, as does her father, so I think we can all agree we have reached consensus that Julia is The Best Baby.
But whether or not you grant that Julia is extra-special in the ways I’ve mentioned (did I mention she’s got ten perfect toes?) one thing is incontrovertible about Baby Julia: She’s extra lucky because she was born to a quilter.
Julia and me; note my scrap cupboard in the background. Photo: Heather Kinion
Heather has been making quilts for about as long as I have; since 2008 or so. She got a job at a (now-shuttered) quilt shop in Chicago that year and was off to the races, loving all the Kaffe Fassett and Joel Dewberry that came in the door.
Her skill and style have strengthened and evolved since then; she’s had quilts published in magazines and has exhibited at shows. She’s active in her guild. I brought Heather on as part of the “Quilty” production unit from about 2012-2014, too; she did stunt-sewing, various production stuff, and was also a guest on camera a number of times.
But like so many people who end up doing work in the quilt industry, Heather’s first love—before Julia came along—was the quilt itself. And while it’s great that Julia’s mom is professional, creative, and a great team player, in the lottery of life it may actually be more important that Heather is a person who obsessively wants to wrap people in homemade quilts.
Because the baby born to a quilter is a baby born to someone who believes in not just the power of the handmade object, but the power of the handmade object that can keep you warm and be used as a kleenex; the handmade object that can be put into the washing machine, the dryer, used as a picnic blanket, and mended when torn.
To be born to a quilter—more precisely, to be born into an enormous, tight-knit community of quilters which includes me and my mother, who loves Baby Julia very much and does not yet have grandchildren of her own to spoil!—means to be born into a world that has softness available when life gets hard.
Julia and my mother, Marianne. She looks good on ya, Mom! Photo: Heather KinionLife is good at getting hard, Julia. You’ll discover that as you go along. It’ll start with falling down when you try to walk. That’s not going to be fun and you’ll cry about it; we all did. Eventually, you’ll have homework and boys and both of those things can make you cry, too (ask me how I know.) And many other things will be hard in life but I won’t go into all of those now; suffice to say I’ll be here when you want to talk about it and the really good news is that quilts will be here. They never judge you. They are soft. They’re colorful. And they don’t give bad advice. Ever.
A baby like you, born into Heather’s world—a world where quilts matte —you may very well be the luckiest baby on Earth. And we’ve already established you’re the cutest.