There is a long tradition of making quilts for a wedding couple, with some quilts created as gifts, and historically, others made by the bride herself. The bride’s quilts likely would include utility quilts — those whose aesthetics were less important than usefulness — as well as some number made for beauty and to exhibit her needlework talents. Gifts from others were markers of the union, intended to be useful but also to create a remembrance of the occasion itself. At different times and within different cultures, there were recognized styles for the gift, and the giver’s best work was displayed.
These days, handmade quilts given as wedding gifts emphasize the beauty of joining lives, just as in the past. However, there is no common form or style in the U.S. for these gifts, which are as personal as the giver and receivers themselves.
I’ve made several quilts as wedding gifts, each intended as an expression of my love and hope for the couple.
Holly and Will‘s was given to them for their wedding in November 2010. I made it at the same time and using the same block style and colors as the next quilt. As you can see, though, the layouts are very different. I think of them both as “mock Amish” due to the colors used. However, the blocks used are not Amish in form, and the fabrics are printed rather than solid. Holly and Will’s quilt is made in the “diamond in a square” layout. One reason I chose this is because both have last names beginning with the letter “K.” If you look at the red border framing the chartreuse border, and use your imagination, you can see two Ks facing each other. I chose the colors after Holly expressed a preference for the plum/purple used as the background.
Friends Steve and Ginny also got married in Novemeber 2010, and as mentioned above, I made this quilt during the same time I made Holly and Will’s. Steve and Ginny are both musicians and professors. Steve’s focus is jazz. When I made this one, I planned to have the sawtooth border go all the way around. However, I messed up the math so badly, it couldn’t be done. So I improvised, appropriate for a jazz quilt. I put the sawtooth border wrapping two of the corners. I also wanted to brighten the edge before the plum binding and kept thinking of adding a touch of the chartreuse to one corner. It’s a touch they really love and point out to people. The quilt hangs on the wall of their living room now, a real honor for me.
When one of my sisters got married five years ago, my other sister and I made a quilt for Marianne and Bruce. Bruce had been a Marine, her son was a Marine, and his two sons were Marines. Between the strong military/patriotic connection and her traditional taste, we chose a muted color scheme that was subtly patriotic. The photo you see here is before it was quilted. It is big enough to be used on a king-sized bed, though they currently have a queen bed.
I have four older brothers and sisters, and three of them got married in the last six years. This is a quilt made with my oldest sister. We didn’t have prior notice that Greg and Kathy were getting married. They just up and got married! We had already begun a quilt for them, though, so we had a head start. This quilt is made using the maple leaf block, and all the fabrics except the background are prints with birds, feathers, leaves, or mushrooms on them, very appropriate for two people who love to be outside.
The other of those siblings to get married was my brother Jerry. In May of 2008, also with no notice to family members, Jerry and Lucy got married. Since my sister and I were already working on the quilt for Marianne and Bruce, a known event, we continued that and decided to make a quilt for Jerry and his bride once we were done with the first one. At Christmas 2009 we presented this beautiful quilt, one of my favorites ever. Unfortunately Lucy flaked out and left him, and they’ve since divorced. He kept the quilt. He didn’t want it, didn’t want to use it at first. But he does use it now.
As you can see, these are all very different, made with the receivers in mind with design and fabric choices.
Have you made any quilts as a wedding gift? What happened to the quilt if the couple divorced? Do you have any upcoming weddings for which you plan to quilt?