Monday, December 2, 2013

A Chemo Quilt

I made this quilt for a woman who was recently diagnosed with cancer.  With four kids ages 5 and under, you might imagine that the time I can devote to quilting is limited.  So I try to refrain from making unsolicited quilts.

But sometimes a person's story hits me just so.  I think I can finally admit that I sometimes obsessively quilt as a coping mechanism.  I wish that I could make all the sickness and all the sadness go away.  I cannot.

But I can make a quilt: a tangible piece of comfort and hope.


I don't feel at liberty to share the story, so I'll just tell you about my "creative process" instead.  First, I don't know this woman.  It's hard enough to sew for someone whom I do know, let alone for someone I don't.  So I set about to dig through my (meager) stash to find fabrics that I thought would appeal to a variety of aesthetic tastes.

I have plenty of novelty prints: girls playing with dollies, girls playing with chickens, a few rocket ships, etc.  I also have a lot of bright and potentially obnoxious prints.  But no, those would not do.


Instead, I grabbed these Denyse Schmidt prints (and a few others to match) and was once again reminded of the genius of Denyse.  I would say that I have been slow to become a fan.  (But is one year really "slow?"  Probably not.)  I find this quilt to be both very lovely and broadly appealing.  Some prints are traditional and vintage-y, while others are modern... oh, they're all just so wonderful!

I didn't really like the navy print as a stand-alone piece, but I cut it up, stitched it into this quilt, and now I really think it makes the quilt, you know?  And like I said in this post, I firmly believe that one can never go wrong with half-square triangles and plenty of Kona White.


Also, I wish I could say that I planned this (I did not), but as I was sewing I was thinking of how these colors are so soothing.  It was therapeutic for me to stitch the fabric together.  I realized that, "Of course! They are 'cool' on the color wheel!"  So I hope that the quilt is calming for the recipient as she undergoes treatment.

This is a "chemo quilt" because it only measures approximately 25 x 50 inches.  So it's small enough to stuff into an oversized bag for a trip to a chemo treatment, and still big enough to keep a person warm during the infusion.


I stitched the word "HOPE" on the back for two reasons.  First, many cancer centers, including Duke where Charlotte is treated, have a line about hope.  For example, "At Duke... there is HOPE."  We have certainly found this to be true.

Second, Christianity has much to say on the topic of HOPE.  Speaking from experience, having complete strangers preach at a person with a brand-new cancer diagnosis is pretty much the pits.  But one word of encouragement from someone who shares your faith?  I think that is appropriate.

Charlotte is just one of the faces of hope, but dare I say she's the cutest one?  

My sweet Charlotte knows all about hope.  She wasn't expected to live past her six-month birthday.

It's hard to believe that was over two years ago now - what grace!  

P.S. Please chime in... do you sew quilts for people you don't know? Or for someone who has not requested a quilt?  How do you choose the fabric and pattern?

(Linking up to Quilt Story, NTT, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Crazy Mom Quilts.)


  1. Very pretty colors. I just surprised a coworker with a quilt to be raffled off for relay for life. Many of my quilts are started without a person in mind; however, I found that not having a specific end recipient in mind by the time it was finished made coming up with a name for it quite difficult. I ended up calling it "Finding Gold" and I hope it helps her raise a lot of money.

  2. I like the word "hope" you put in the quilt-- great encouragement.

  3. I have loved reading your story of hope. I find it is sometimes easier to make a quilt for someone I don't know. I guess I don't stress as much if they will like it or use it, because I will never know. I just hope they feel the love I stitched into the quilt, so they can find some comfort.

  4. I may make one of these now for a neighbor (from childhood) whom has cancer that returned from being in the clear for years and years:(

    Great inspiration you are Lauren!

    Love seeing pics of Charlotte;)

  5. What a great choice of fabrics :) I love your hope label! Giving is just amazing isn't it? :) I have been saving samples and motels soaps, shampoos etc. We traveled a lot for my husband's job. I have a ton. I'm going to sew up quick little bags and let my grandchildren fill them and help distribute to a homeless shelter. Giving feels great and I want to help teach them to be thankful and help others!

  6. A fabulous quilt and I love that you've included the word 'hope'. My daughter's middle name is Hope, I named her Hope as she was my hope for a better future - 19 years on she's exactly that. I'm sure your quilt will give someone else hope for a better future too :D

  7. I love your quilts, and I love even more that there is so much passion put into them. I have yet to make a quilt for someone I don't know. I have that navy print in another colour, I love it although I haven't put it to much use.

  8. I think it is inside all of os, our love for quilting, leads us to the love of giving our quilts away. I think it is a great thing to do!! I love your quilt too but the way, love the triangle, and the colours and patterns, I am not to familiar with Denyse Schmidt fabric, you have sparked my interest in them

  9. It's just wonderful. I was making quilts for the women in my family for Christmas and made sure to get the one for my aunt done in time since she was diagnosed with cancer in August. Hers is a couch size quilt which may be a little big to bring to treatment based on what you've written but if it is I know it'll be perfect to snuggle under at home.

  10. This is fantastic! How did you come about those dimensions? I like that it's smaller, thus easier to transport. Are there "suggestions" out there for chemo quilt sizes?

  11. I love navy and love the print. We all have different tastes. I love blues. It'll make a great radiation quilt, too, if she needs radiation. I was given what I thought was the ugliest quilt when I went through radiation after chemo. It just wasn't my colors. But I grew to like that quilt. It was left at the treatment center. I didn't have to worry about covering up with something else from the dressing room to the treatment room each day. I just wrapped the quilt around my upper body. Then I was surprised when I was told to bring it home with me. Some ladies from a church in my home town had taken their time to make quilts for ladies under going radiation for breast cancer. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate their time and energy. I knew what it took to make a quilt and that was a large part of what made me love my quilt that someone I didn't know spent all that time and energy to make a quilt for me,, someone they didn't know. When I quilt or knit for charity, I pray as I work on the item for that unknown person, so I know that the patient(s) have been entrusted to God and I have a Peace. When hats are bagged at church to go to treatment centers, they are always prayed over and asked that God will direct them to the perfect people. I believe God's hands are in each step of the process. Your daughter is adorable. BTW - when I was born, the doctor didn't think that he could save either me or my mom. The doctor asked my dad to make a decision as to which to try to save in case he could save one and he could make a choice. My dad make the choice to try to save my mom because he already had two sons. The doctor was able to save both of us. Not even knowing the circumstances of my birth, as an adult, I had a doctor told me that I should never have been born. I've had several encounters with death in my lifetime and know that each time God has a plan for my life. I just don't want to disappoint Him. This year I was only able to make one table runner and I donated it to my quilt guild for an event next year. I haven't been able to see to quilt much for a couple of years. I just had surgery on both my eyes at the end of November and may still have double vision for six weeks following surgery.

    Bottom line: I think it's awesome to do charity sewing/quilting. Even if the color scheme is not your favorite it may those of the patient. If the patient is not in love with it at first, (s)he may love it eventually. Regardless, the patient will feel loved and be in awe that someone spent time to do something for him/her. Most everyone is aware that it does take time and effort to make something for someone else. Regardless, you are being obedient to the call of God and using your talents and showing His love to others. God Bless you. You are teaching my example.

  12. I love these on point! A very sweet quilt for someone going through something so hard.

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  14. Visiting you from needle and thread. This is gorgeous, I was taken by the photo on the link up. I cannot see how anyone would not like it. Be congratulated that you have done it. I quilt for charity all the time, I often don't like what I make but the material is donated adn I have donated my time. IN the end I am praying that the right person will get it that likes it. It is up to them!

  15. This is so beautiful Lauren. I love the word hope on the back, because sometimes it's a seemingly small gesture in the grand scheme of life that can help a person have just that. I am certain that it will bring much needed comfort.

    Thank you so much for sharing at Needle and Thread Thursday!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

    ps- thank you also, for your kind comment on my post as well. You showed up as a no-reply blogger when I tried to respond via email. :)

  16. You ARE an inspiration! God bless you and your daughter/family :-)

  17. This is a very pretty quilt. I sew often for someone I don't know. I think my quilts bring comfort to the receiver no matter what colors are in the fabrics. The receiver knows someone cares about them and hopefully they feel comfort in the quilt.

  18. It is a very beautiful and thoughtful quilt. I sew blocks that my guilds uses to make quilts for others.

  19. powerful a word isn't it? It is what got me through six months of treatment for stage 3 breast cancer. It is what kept my family going when I was simply too sick to take care of them. And it is what continues to bring me to my knees in prayer for those who are sick and hurting. Bring them hope, sweet Lord. So powerful. Thank you for sharing, Lauren. You and your beautiful daughter inspire me.

    1. Thank you so much, Cindy! Wow - I did not know that you are a breast cancer survivor. I'm so sorry for all that you went through in that trial. Thank you for continuing to pray for those still in the midst of the battle with cancer. And thanks for such a kind comment.

  20. It turned out great, I love the colors. A lady at my church often makes quilts when people become sick- I've contributed blocks, but this lady has usually already picked a color scheme, so it's easy for me (I believe she asks the recipient about colors).

  21. Love the colors you choose for the quilt.

  22. Very kind of you. Sometimes we do just have to follow our heart and creating something for someone going through a hard time is one way we can support them. It is a beautiful quilt, well done!

  23. What a great reason to make a quilt for someone!

  24. My heart is touched by your heart to encourage and say you care by making a lovely quilt for someone you don't even know.

  25. I have made quilts for those I don't know and hope they like what I make. I also sew for family and friends based on what I think would work for them and what I want to make. Everyone seems to like them. I think it is stressful sometimes especially if you really don't know. I hope each person who gets one knows how much thought really does go into them too!


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