My Mum’s 70th birthday was coming up and she had planned a weeks stay in a beautiful house overlooking the Menai Bridge in north Wales. My Brother and his family, our close friends and my own family all together and, as a quilter, I just had to make something to commemorate her birthday and the occasion. But what to do? A quilt, obviously but which design?

My hand!

I did the usual, hit Pinterest for inspiration but nothing really grabbed me. I did think along the lines of a family tree but then the idea struck me. The outlines of hands from all the people who would be on the birthday holiday. I decided that I could appliqué the hands to a quilt and that each person would have their own block and my husband wrote a poem which I embroidered into the centre block. My Mum has a dog, Toby, and she regularly looks after our own Chewy so they had to appear on the quilt too! Then there was the fillers, how to fill the spaces between the blocks?

The Poem on the Central Block

I love traditional blocks and the names of them can bring meaning to a quilt. Mothers delight was an obvious choice along with Houndstooth, for the dogs, Grandmother’s Fan and then some of the simpler blocks that we both made when we both began quilting together; Nine Patch, Pinwheel and the Flying Geese blocks that don’t match on purpose – we both struggled with the points the first time we made them so this I reflected in the quilt. I also choose the Stella block (she enjoys a Stella, but don’t tell her I told you!)

I wanted to keep a traditional, historic feel to the quilt so I made the blocks different sizes and filled areas with small sashing and squares. It would have been much easier to make if I’d have kept them equal but where’s the fun in that? I did think briefly about machine quilting it but I’m a hand quilter at heart, inspired by traditional Welsh quilting, and felt that I wouldn’t do it full justice if I tried to machine, so I commenced the sewing! It took me a year overall but would have been quicker if I’d have just got on with it!

Welsh quilt inspiration 
From Welsh Quilt Centre, Lampeter

The spring show at Malvern, Quilts UK, was fast approaching and I decided to enter it into the theme category, which was ‘Anniversary’. This helped give me a deadline to finish it and, as with all other quilts I’ve hand quilted, I couldn’t wait to be rid of it. At last, the week before it was due in, I finished it. As always, I’m sure I’m not alone, there were a few bits I’d have liked to of added. Not least a proper label. You will notice that on one of the blocks there is a little ‘bean’. My lovely Sister in law was expecting her second child at the time and they always referred to the bump as ‘bean’ so in their first sons block is a little bean. This weekend the bean has just turned one! (Where does the time go?) And I’ve taken a handprint of little Elliot to use on the label on the back. I’m thinking I might put one of Mum’s hands on too.

I really enjoyed making this, a great excuse to get the family together and I was totally amazed and overjoyed to be awarded second place in the themed category at Malvern. Chuffed wasn’t the word! Even did a little dance around the kitchen but what pleased me most is the confidence it’s given me, that my quilt could hold its own in the fabulous collection of quilts at Quilts UK!

Mum’s Quilt



  1. Teresa Barrow

    Helen. I missed this when you first published it, so I am very pleased that on UKQU’s 5th Birthday you chose to share it again. Such a precious story! Beautiful quilt, combined with such thought & planning. Your award at Malvern was thoroughly deserved.