Monday, September 15, 2014

Making a 100 Good Wishes Quilt

Now that the craziness of putting the 100 Blessings/Good Wishes Quilt is over and it has been gifted - I thought I would put together some thoughts and suggestions in case someone else was thinking of making one.

 In northern China there is a centuries old tradition of creating a "Bai-Jia-Bei" otherwise known as a "100 Good Wishes Quilt" to welcome and celebrate a new life into the family. One hundred family and friends donate a piece of fabric along with a written wish for the child. The wish can be anything: a quote, a poem, a saying, a story, a verse or a simple wish from the heart.

This practice has been adopted by many families who are adopting children from China as a unique and special way to welcome the child into their family. What we did for my friends and their new little girl is create a quilt with donated fabric and a book filled with the blessings to accompany the quilt. Each page of the book has the blessing written on it, a piece of the corresponding fabric attached to it, and the names and pictures of the people who donated the fabric and wrote the blessing. This way their daughter will always know which square came from whom, and what blessings and prayers were meant for her with that particular square.

1. Announcing the idea:  I used both Facebook and an announcement at church to let family and friends know about the project.  I wrote up instructions on a single sheet of paper that could be handed out.  I also put the information up on a special page on the blog.

2. Timing:  Plan on lots of time, as much as you can get away with.  First, give people who are participating lots of time to turn in the fabric.  Give them at least a month and plan on getting fabric even after your deadline has been reached.  You will eventually have to be firm on when you will no longer accept fabric because you will need to have enough time to actually construct the quilt.

3. Instructions: Be clear about how you want people to participate: What kind of fabric? How big of a piece? Where can they purchase it? What kind of fabric won't work? Are you working from a color scheme, or can people submit what ever they want?  Where can they mail it?  Also, you will need instructions regarding the Wish or Blessing. 
 **No matter how clear you think your instructions are, people will still have questions!  Be prepared to answer the same question many times.

4. Fabric: Be clear on what kind of fabric you will accept.  For instance, I asked for 100% cotton, quilting cottons, novelty prints, or fabrics from the baby section.  I still ended up with a couple of knits, two home decor weights, and a couple of flannels.  It will be up to you to decide how you want to deal with those.  I interfaced the flannel and home decor fabric, and returned the knit.
Also decide on a minimum size.  I asked for 10" square, knowing that I could definitely get an 8" square to work with out of it and a 2" square for the scrap book.   (most people gave much more than the minimum)
 **Be prepared to work with fabrics you would never in 100 years purchase.  I often say I've never met a piece fabric I didn't like, but there were a couple submissions I don't think I'd ever willingly purchase.

 5. Quilt Design: I did a simple square blocks with white sashing and red corner stones.  The white helped off set the many different fabric blocks and the corner stones helped pull the quilt together visually.  As I was working, I was formulating other design possibilities: Perhaps circles or hexagons, or if you were doing something smaller, balloons tied together.  I chose the square blocks because I didn't want to cut up the fabrics, so they were easily recognizable.  Each square of donated fabric finished at 7.5", so with the sashing and border the quilt ended up fairly large - 74" x 84".  Keep this in mind when asking for fabric, if something smaller is what you are planning, ask for smaller pieces of fabric!

 6. Scrapbook/ Memory Book: For this project I created a standard page for people to fill out and attach a picture.  I did the attaching of the fabric (in the upper right hand corner) as I cut the squares for the quilt.  Each page was then put into a plastic sleeve and they were all put into a binder.
 If anyone has any questions - please feel free to leave a comment or email me and I'll be happy to respond.


Mindy said...

It's still amazing! You've done an incredible job.

Vicki said...

Sounds like you did some great coordinating! The quilt turned out great and will be always cherished.