Gioia's birthday got me thinking back to my own childhood birthdays. I don't remember many of them, but two stand out. The first memory isn't really a memory at all, but a mental image of a picture that was taken on my first birthday. We were living in Pasadena, California at the time, and my parents took me to a park to celebrate. The one picture that survives that day is of me on a picnic blanket with some cake and my mom. At least, that is what I remember of the picture. I always thought that was such a great thing to do for a one year old's birthday. Low key, very personalized, and focused on family. Hippie cool.
The second birthday memory that stands out is one when I was in elementary school in Dhaka. I had a Hollie Hobbie themed birthday, and I remember that we had Hollie Hobbie sugar cookies that each guest got to decorate. Knowing what I know now about how hard it is to find certain baking stuff while living overseas, I have NO IDEA how my mom found Hollie Hobbie cookie cutters and made sugar cookies in Bangladesh in the early eighties. No idea. Little miracles aside, that stands out as a good, fun birthday memory for me.
So as I was contemplating the doll quilt design for the swap, I thought it would be fun to do something that incorporated an actual doll. And then I remembered the Hollie Hobbie birthday party, and that led me to Sunbonnet Sue, the original Hollie Hobbie. Sunbonnet Sue images were pretty popular quilt block designs around the turn of the last century.
The fabrics that I had selected from the stash also lent themselves to a folksy-type design. At the end of the day, I decided to make the applique design as a picture portrait of a little doll on a day out. A doll within a doll quilt, if you will.
The Sue pattern came from this site of dedicated Sunbonnet Sue applique patterns. I used Mimi's dryer sheet trick for the applique, and I used free motion quilting to trace around the two main design groups: the girl and the balloons. You cannot see it in the picture, but I also quilted some rolling hills and a sun in the upper left corner. The edges of the picture are framed in buttonhole stitch (aka mattress stitch), and the balloon strings are embroidered chain stitch.
The binding and some of the applique pieces are made from a very precious piece of Liberty fabric that one of my good friends brought back from London for me years ago (hey Liz). I love this fabric so much that I have been afraid to cut into it, but I made myself do it for this project. Now that it is "broken into," maybe I will feel more comfortable using bigger pieces now, maybe even make Gioia a dress or two.
I hope my swap buddy likes her quilt. It sure was fun to make.