Right after Lucas' funeral, I asked Gabi if she would like me to make a quilt using his clothes. She immediately said yes. I am no seamstress but have made several quilts. My niece Christina also wanted in on it. We got together and started making our plans. We knew we wanted to do it as quickly as possible so that Gabi could have the comfort of Lucas and her memories of him back soon. We didn't know however, how it would turn into one of the most amazing, spiritual, and difficult experiences we would encounter. I'm sure that because it was right after Lucas passed away that created a lot of our emotions, but I also believe he was there with us so many times- guiding us and helping us know how to create a special keepsake for his family, and in my mind, especially his mommy.
As we laid out the clothing, I will be honest in that we shed many tears. Even my daughter Sommer cried herself to sleep that night after seeing all of Lucas' clothing. There were many memories attached to each article.
I had this idea that I wanted the back to be minky fabric- so it would be super soft and comforting to hold. I knew this quilt would not just go on display. It would be held, squeezed, and loved. I was planning on looking for a turquoise minky until Gabi said she'd love there to be giraffe print on the back if possible because Lucas' favorite blanky was giraffe print and it was buried with him. Gabi gave us only a few requests. She mostly wanted it to be a surprise. I went on to fabric.com to look for giraffe fabric and to my astonishment, they sold giraffe minky!!! We were so excited!
The next thing I was conflicted about was how to match the giraffe print with all of his clothing and also how to incorporate his favorite color- turquoise. Christina and I were ecstatic when we found this darling giraffe print fabric on fabric.com as well with those exact colors. It was such a perfect way to tie in the design and colors.. And the fact that this print also had hearts! Too perfect- since Lucas had heart surgeries and was literally our "sweetheart baby."
And this print was super cute! It was perfect!
(Like it was made just for him!)
These were the beginning stages:
We had notes and diagrams drawn out everywhere.
The ideas were flowing. :)
We really wanted to use as much as we could to represent Lucas' short life but big personality and his favorite things.
We made appliqués out of clothing scraps:
Because Lucas drowned in his favorite Superman shirt and it was torn, the idea came to us simultaneously to make a cape out of his clothing to represent Superman- which we all called him. He was such a strong little boy with a big heart! With a little pair of underoos with it. Gabi had requested we put some undies on there . :) The Superman emblem has his favorite turquoise shirt underneath.
Gabi also asked that we leave some of his clothing in tact. She wanted to keep the collars on his polo shirts because they were so cute on him. Years later, she wanted to remember what each square was for. Some shirts became blocks of fabric, but some were sewn onto other squares ( like the polo shirts and a few pair of shorts and pants). I wasn't sure how it would turn out at first, but wanted it to be what Gabi wanted, and I think it turned out cute having little collars and pockets on there, etc. It also helps us to remember just how little he was when he passed away.
We also had some photos screen printed. When we picked those squares up from the printer, the man that owned the store was in tears and said he cried as he printed them. Lucas definitely touched many hearts.
This quilt was very different and unique, but we were happy with the way it came together.
There were times we would be so confused over what to do about something and then the answer would come to us both at the same time. I really do believe we were helped along the way.
One day some of the squares kept turning upside down after we had sewn them. We would unpick, redo, double check, and set it aside, to then look and find they were flipped again!!! My mom also began helping and all three of us were in hysterics as we had all double checked the work and yet it kept changing on us. We wondered if we were all going crazy!!! As we were laughing and trying to figure out what was going on, all of a sudden, Livvy, who had just turned 5, yelled out for me in a cry from the other room. I ran in to see what was the matter. With tears running down her face, she said, "Mommy, I just have the strongest feeling that Lucas is here."
We had not said anything of the sort, but we all felt that she was right. Lucas was definitely with us at times. And we even think he played some tricks on us. :)
Because we used so much of his clothing, the quilt ended up king size.
This is how it looked completed. I was so happy to give it to Gabi, but also sad. I felt so close to Lucas during the process and I didn't want to give it up.
The quilt was so big we had to do squares on the back as well. We couldn't afford enough minky for a king size quilt.
As soon as we gave the quilt to them, Nicholas (Lucas' big brother and best friend) fell immediately asleep. I was so choked up to see the comfort it brought him.
Sommer and Nicholas
I will cherish the chance I had to be part of such a special project. It wasn't easy but was a wonderful labor of love.