A story-full birthday quilt for reading by

| 15

J recently turned three and for her birthday I wanted to make her a quilt for snuggling up in when reading. About the time I started working on the quilt I was sent Nonie’s Magic Quilt by Anita Vachharajani, illustrated by Anitha Balachandran; a serendipitous coincidence as it’s a lovely book all about the making of a quilt full of stories.

Nonie loves to laugh and play. Not only during the day, but also throughout the night. Her parents become ever more exasperated at Nonie’s non-sleeping. They try everything they can think of but nothing works. Eventually they call on the help of Aunt Munni, a rather magical relation who arrives on a broom. With the help of her measuring snake, Munni works out that what Nonnie needs is her own special sleeping quilt and with a magical spell conjures up a quilt stitched together with rainbow colours, a symphony of sounds and a tousle of textures.

Nonie still doesn’t want to go to sleep but when she settles down at night the quilt lights up and comes alive – the stories, colours and smells from all the fabric squares weave together to tell a tale which gradually lulls Nonie into the land of Nod. And whilst she sleeps she has wonderful story-full dreams – her magic quilt has made it fun to sleep!

The story is lovely – about the magic of stories at bedtime, about the coziness and comfort a quilt can bring. It’s sprinkled with a smattering of Indian flavour (Her dupatta had a silvery sheen, / and on it were little baubles of green), and there’s a helpful glossary at the end so that we could look up the words we didn’t know. The entire story is told in rhyme – definitely something my children enjoyed for it’s rhythm and bounce. Some rhymes didn’t sit so comfortably on my tongue, but perhaps that’s down to differences in British English and Indian English pronunciation – indeed I would love to hear this read as an audiobook. With the addition of some music it could make a great story to listen to.

The illustrations are great fun. Packed with slightly zany characters, they reminded me of Babette Cole both in terms of content and style and definitely appealed to M and J who have asked for this book to be read to them many times since it arrived in our home!

As to the quilt I made…

For the front of the quilt I used 5 different fabrics from Liberty’s spring range of Tara Lawn cotton, all designed by children’s book illustrators. It was hard choosing just a few different fabrics, but the designs I finally settled on were Carolyn Jane, Charlie’s Paisley and Kate Ada by Quentin Blake and Olivia Strange and Reuben Kelly by David McKee, the creator of Elmer, King Rollo and Mr Benn.

I used silk wadding in the middle. It’s very light and warm and feels incredibly luxurious.

For the back of the quilt I used Kaffe Fassett Plink in sand, and for the binding Kaffe Fassett shot cotton in grape.

Whilst quilting I listened to:

  • Patchwork Quilt by Sweet Honey in the Rock
  • Sewing Machine Blues by Jimmie Davis
  • My favourite sewing song, The Sewing Machine Song by TR Kelley
  • Oh, and I have to admit it, quite a lot of Adele’s new album too!

  • If you want to try some quilting with kids here are some ideas to get you going:

  • I have to say’s tutorial for first time quilting with your kids
  • A tutorial from Christine Koh for families and kids with a little more sewing experience
  • Teaching quilting history to kids on the Sew Mama Sew blog
  • Lots of links relating to using quilts to teach maths at mathwire.com (scroll down for the quilts section)
  • Maps are great for creating stories and I love the idea of these soft maps from Haptic Lab

  • Other great sewing and quilting books for kids:

  • The Patchwork Path: a quilt map to freedom written by Bettye Stroud, illustrated by Erin Susan Bennett, reviewed at Saffron Tree.
  • A selection of sewing and quilting books as a guestpost on Playing by the book from Andi at Laundry on the Line.

  • Have you done any sewing with or for your children recently?

    Disclosure: I received my copy of Nonie’s Magic Quilt from the author. This post, however, contains my own, honest opinion of this book.

    15 Responses

      • Zoe

        We’re really grateful Anita contacted us about her book! It’s lovely and was just perfect for us at the moment in time.

      • Zoe

        Thanks Danielle. Yes, like a good book, the quilt will hopefully stay with her a long time rather than being discarded quickly like so many toys are!

    1. Andi

      The quilt is beautiful – I am sure it will be treasured forever! And I’ve just added Nonie’s Magic Quilt to my “must read” list! 🙂
      Andi recently posted..Raised Garden Boxes

    2. Bronwyn

      The quilt is just beautiful Zoe! So great to see it finished!

      In the picture book swap that you organised I received
      “The Quilt Makers Gift” by Jeff Brumbeau

      Its a magnificently illustrated picture book about a quilt maker who sews beautiful quilts which she will not sell, but instead gives away to the poor and homeless. A story about learning what brings true happiness.

      I love your wonderful ideas for bring stories into your kids lives!
      Bronwyn recently posted..Happy Easter 2011

    3. Donna@MummyCentral

      I’m definitely going to check out this book – and look into doing a special quilt for each of my sons. I’m no good at sewing (sure with practice I could do better) but I love the idea of giving them something as a keepsake from their childhood, that they could perhaps pass on to their children. You’ve inspired me. Wish me luck x
      Donna@MummyCentral recently posted..Silent Sunday- 1st May 2011

      • Zoe

        Hi Donna, I wouldn’t call myself any good at sewing either, but much quilting is all about sewing in straight lines, and if you keep the quilt smallish to begin with I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself with what you can achieve. I say go for it and try making one!

    4. Even in Australia

      This book looks great! What a series of happy coincidences – not just getting the book while you were making the quilt but the fact that the Liberty fabrics were actually designed by children’s book illustrators!
      Even in Australia recently posted..A Mom with a Hobby

    5. Zoe

      Hi Even in Australia,
      Actually the fabric came first. We have so many quilts already it hadn’t been on my horizon for this year, but when I found out about the fabric I knew I had to get some and use if for something special!
      Zoe recently posted..A story-full birthday quilt for reading by

    6. Zoe

      Andi, Katherine,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Andi – wish I could sit down with you for some quilting advice! Think i could learn a lot from you!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    CommentLuv badge

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.