Last year, some dear chums announced that they were expecting a wee boy. “Marvellous stuff!” was my immediate thought, “but what to give in celebration of the boy child’s arrival?”
I do think that finding suitably heirloomy gifts for baby boys is tough. Girls are fine. Ridiculously ruffled ensembles, expensive bits of household décor and jewelry are easy enough to source. All sartorial items man-child related seem to involve shouty T-shirts and rather bleh, khaki hues. And what sort of household item could these boys grow into? An engraved tankard might be suitable for an 18-year old but sends out the wrong – and arguably alcoholic - signals for a newborn. As for jewelry… it can be a bit, well, * sotto voce * chavtastic.
After a bit of pondering I decided upon a homemade quilt.
- Can be used as a mat
- Can be used as a blanket (multi purpose. Vital requirement for any mother)
- Machine washable (Is there a word even more emphatic than “vital”?)
- One of a kind (important consideration if this was to become heirloomy)
- Ermmm. Can’t really think of any.
I’d recently become the proud owner of a Toyota RS Series A (RD) sewing machine bought for the grand total of €69 in a Dutch pharmacy (let’s not talk about the fact the plastic pattern dial broke after less than a year. The Toyota now gathers dust whilst I wait for a replacement nob. From China. Gah. I fear this serves me right.) Now was a chance to flex both machine and soon-to-be-learned quilting skills.
Fortunately I live quite close to Beyond Fabrics on Columbia Road, a veritable palace of patchwork. In and amongst their impressive fabric collection, they have a number of ready prepared quilt kits.
However, none of the colours were quite right for this particular family. I wanted a quilt that shouted out strong, brave, MANLY. The sort of quilt a small boy would proudly sport as a superhero cape. The sort of quilt a teenage lad wouldn’t mind as a foot warmer at the bottom of his bed. The sort of quilt a man would still have at the bottom of his bed or maybe sport occasionally as a cape. The love of his life would look at the quilt, look at the man, look back at the quilt and go “This is a man who cares for craft. This is the man for me”. And later she would wrap the man’s baby in this quilt thus starting the whole cycle again.
This quilt would also have to be dark and patterned enough to hide stains.
And those lovely people at Beyond Fabrics put together this great combination of colours.
I know, there are roses in it, but manly men who support the English rugby team wear roses on their chest. With pride.
And may I say what a satisfying delight it was to make the quilt. The instructions were clear and the pieces cut to size. The scraps were even sufficient to whip up a couple of lavender bags to ensure the quilt’s longevity in moth-afflicted London.
Certainly, as the giver of the quilt I was pleased. We’ll just have to wait a couple more decades to see if it lives up to my ambitious expectations.