Special Quilts for Special Children

This is my day in the “It’s All About the Kids” blog hop, and you can read on to find out about a special giveaway by the Fat Quarter Shop and about opportunities for giving quilts to special children.Giving quilts is dear to my heart because as many of you know, our oldest granddaughter was born with a very rare and large brain tumor. She has had four delicate brain surgeries to remove parts of this tumor. Thus over the past few years we have spent weeks in the St. Joseph’s pediatric intensive care unit in Phoenix, AZ. One of the most wonderful things that happened to us during each hospitalization was receiving a quilt from the AZ Blankets 4 Kids Organization. These quilts were simply and well-made, they were colorful and bright, and they truly lifted our spirits and those of others in the ICU.

Because of this, I have been working on digitizing a center block for a child’s quilt. Paper dolls are one of my favorite things and this paper doll pattern is from my mother. The design isn’t finished yet–this is my first iteration of it, but it’s good enough to go into the center of a quilt. And I can border it with simple squares or flying geese or star blocks to make it just the right size for a child.

Paper Dolls Center Block
Paper Dolls Center Block

This is a work in progress, but here are two possibilities of ways to use this center block for a child’s quilt.

child quilt2 42x42

child quilt 42x42

And here is an example of extra embroidery blocks used in a child’s quilt and following that, a picture of novelty fabric used in a child’s quilt.

IMG_5900_0017 (Custom)

IMG_5901_0018 (Custom)

Novelty fabrics are really fun to use. And the nice thing is that you can get a single panel or a book panel print for less than $10.00. It only takes some sashing or additional borders to make it just the right size.




How can you get a quilt to a special child?

While I am most familiar with AZ Blankets 4 Kids, other organizations that come to mind are Project Linus and Quilts for Kids. And there are many local organizations and local hospitals who will welcome your contributions of quilts. At your local hospital, contact the Volunteer Services Department or the Director of Nursing for the Hospital.

What is the best size quilt to make?

In general, most organizations ask for quilts that are approximately 38-40 inches wide and 42-48 inches long for toddlers and children. However, as you read the requests from the different groups, you will see that there are also real needs for quilts for teens. A quilt for a teen should be slightly larger (lap quilt size), approximately 40-45 inches by 56-62 inches. There are also special requests for quilts for boys. As the grandmother of five grandsons, I can unequivocally state that boys love quilts.

The AZ Blankets 4 Kids organization lists the following recommended sizes:

  • Infant – 38-40 inches square
  • Toddler – 38 x 44 inches to 40 x 46 inches
  • Child – 40 x 48 inches
  • Teen – 40 x 56 inches to 42 x 60 inches

What fabric and batting should be used?

Fabric: My recommendation is that you use quilt shop quality fabric because you will find that it is softer and more durable. Flannel quilts are particularly soft, but it is important to prewash the fabrics to assure all shrinkage is accounted for before cutting and stitching. If you have novelty prints or bright colors or sherbet colors, these are all very cheerful for children and teens. And for boys–dinosaurs, transportation/construction vehicles of all kinds, and Superheroes are especially welcome.

Batting: A low loft cotton, cotton/poly blend, or a good quality polyester batting are all excellent choices. A high loft batting can be difficult to quilt and difficult to manage with all the tubes and equipment that are around a child in the hospital.

How should a child’s quilt be quilted? Can I tie the quilt?

These quilts can be quilted on the machine using a walking foot and stitching horizontally and vertically or cross- hatching the quilt. They can be quilted using your domestic machine and free-motion quilting or with a longarm machine. It is important that they be quilted with a medium all-over design so that they can be washed and cleaned.

And yes, tied quilts are just fine. Be sure to use good embroidery floss for tying and space the ties in a 3-4 inch grid across the quilt.

What are the best patterns for a child’s quilt?

Each of the sites listed above share free patterns. However, as a quilter you all have favorite patterns that you love. Simple traditional patterns like rail fence, bricks, strips, and four and nine-patch blocks are favorites. Simple stars and pinwheels are also wonderful patterns for children’s quilts. And another quick and easy quilt to make is to use orphan blocks. Do you have extra blocks leftover from other quilts you have made? Why not put them together with sashing and borders to create a sampler quilt? And there are many free patterns in the links on this blog that can be modified in size and fabric to make quilts for children.

One of my favorite books for children’s quilts is the Tuck Me In book from the Editors and Contributors of Quiltmaker Magazine. What are your favorite children’s quilt books? And recently SewCalGal wrote a review of the Nap and Nod children’s quilts book.

Should I wash the quilt before donating it?

I like to wash quilts for children before I send them. I think it is a personal preference, but somehow it makes me feel better to know that the quilt is nice and clean and the fabric and batting are “softer” because of washing.

 GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!   YAY!!!!!!!!!!

And we would like to thank The Fat Quarter Shop for sponsoring a $25.00 gift certificate giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post before Sunday, November 2 to be entered into this giveaway. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, November 3.


 You can find the Fat Quarter Shop at:



Monday, October 27th

Tuesday, October 28th

Wednesday, October 29th


Thursday, October 30th

Friday, October 31st

Jacquelynne Steves, The Art of Home

Wendy Sheppard/Ivory Spring


57 Replies to “Special Quilts for Special Children”

  1. I absolutly love the center you are making!! Both my daughters have had serious illlnesses. My oldest had cancer 3times, my youngest had bacterial menegitious that caused her profound deafness. At the time they did not do things like quilts. Wish they had. I now try to help in lots of causes like this when I can. Thank you for sharing all the information. My daughters are 40 and 37 now. Where does the time go?

  2. The block you are digitizing is very sweet, and a wonderful message for a child and family going through a crisis time.

  3. Marjorie, what useful information. I had to stop and write some stuff down. I love love your paper dolls….thanks so much for such a fun post!

  4. Your paper doll design is delightful. What size hoop will it fit in? Or is it a multi-hoopedpattern?

    As you probably know, I make and gather quilts for “larger kids” (adolescent/teens) in a shelter home. I love knowing that kids are shown love in times of need. I am thinking of getting our church youth involved in tying a quilt for this effort.

  5. Thank you for the information, especially the sizes are very useful. I love your embroidered panel design: cheerful and not really childish.

  6. What a great post!! I’ve made quilts for the Children’s Hospital in our area. Thanks for all of the pointers about preparing quilts for donations.

  7. I really like the paper doll center medallion you designed. I’ve often wondered about using machine embroidered designs on donation quilts. I haven’t tried it yet because I was worried that the designs would not hold up under frequent washing. I think I will try it with my next donation quilt.

  8. Thank you for the design ideas for children’s quilts. I have trouble choosing designs that won’t take me forever to make. The paper dolls will make a darling quilt for a little girl.

  9. Great blog, Marjorie. I especially like the butterflies because they are a symbol of hope.
    Keep up the great work!

  10. I love, love, love that block you have made with the children holding hearts and hands. What a lovely idea and lots of inspiration too. Thank you so much…I feel uplifted by just seeing the project. Now, I’m off to search for pix of more projects that the boys and I have done. This is a ball.


  11. Wonderful post. And great insights on super good organizations that need donations of handmade quilts, to give much needed quilty hugs to kids. Love your new design, inspired by paper dolls. I don’t recall ever seeing a quilt designed with a paper doll theme and really like it. Possibilities are endless.


  12. LOVE your Paper Dolls Quilt Block!! The quilts you show using it are sooo cool! Thanks for sharing your info with us too..very helpful! You are so Special to be Blessing so many Kiddo’s too! thank you for all your do! 🙂

  13. This is a great post! So much useful information, thank you! I too like to wash my quilts before sending them off….just kind of “finishes” them. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Love the paper doll block! I also wash my quilts for babies & children before I gift them, makes them soft & ready to use!!

  15. Thanks for giving us all the information we need to make a quilt for a child–and I especially appreciate the call for quilts for boys. I think that girl fabric and little kid fabric is so darling that sometimes the bigger kids, especially bigger boys, don’t get enough attention.

  16. Your paper dolls block is a wonderful idea!! I’ve just recently looked into the Quilts for Kids,,,thank you for all the info on donating a quilt for a child in need, and quilt ideas.

  17. I used to work in an pediatric Emergency Dept and my favorite things to be able to provide for kids and families were the donated handmade blankets and pillowcases. It’s amazing how comforting that can be for a child who might not have expected to stay at the hospital and may not have brought favorite blankets with them. They also help make the rooms a bit more cheerful and “homey”. Thanks for all you do and for helping promote the power a handmade blanket can have!

  18. Love your quilts – they always inspire me. I am making quilts to donate to the aged care facility I work in. The residents love them, and they are a nice alternative to the crochet blankets.

  19. This is a great list of tips! I love to make quilts for kids. Usually they are quick and made of bright colors so they are a joy to work on. Over the years I have donated quilts to various charities that give them to children — such a good feeling to do something I enjoy that may also bring joy to someone else!

  20. I love the embroidery design! I hope your grandchild heals quickly! Thanks for sharing the designs, too. This is an important cause.

  21. I totally agree with you about quilts brightening a child’s hospital stay. My daughter received one after a back surgery. At the time, she was too miserable to be happy about the quilt. Later, it became a fond memory of an otherwise painful stay. svonfumetti at yahoo dot com

  22. What a wonderful idea. Very cute quilts, too. I know they will be appreciated. Thanks for the giveaway.

  23. Your paper dolls are sweet. I like the idea of giving quilts to children in the hospital. We can’t even imagine what they are going through. Thanks for the giveaway.

  24. Thank you so much for the great tips. I am a beginner and this is so helpful. Your medallion is quite lovely!

  25. What a great post – you explained everything so well. I’ve made quite a few fleece blankets for our local shelter but I need to check into A-Z Blankets for Kids too.

  26. Thank you for writing up this post! I am fairly new to the sewing game and terribly slow, but I hope soon to be able to donate a quilt to a good cause such as this!

  27. Thanks so much for this thought-provoking post. I appreciated your comments about teens and boys appreciating quilts. Quilts can indeed bring comfort to everyone. And I appreciated your specific tips on sizes and design. I will use that advice!

  28. Cute quilts! Thanks for all the hints & tips! I have participated in the Quilts 4 Kids drive as well, and I tell ya what – there’s nothing like the feeling you get, wrapping up your quilt and sending it off with a little love!

    I have also found that it only takes a couple-3 yards of fleece and a few hours of time to make up cuddly, tied-on-the-edges fleece blankies…I make these up & take them to our local fire department for our kids that are victims of abuse, accidents, fire, or weather disasters. They’re so easy & quick to make, and the firemen are grateful to have them to give out when they arrive at a situation.

  29. This is such an awesome cause. I have been involved with an organization that makes fleece blankets for cancer patients and delivers them to hospitals, mainly in Chicago and the tri-state area. Anything given from the heart and given with love is comforting to someone in need.

  30. Love all the inspiration for childrens quilts. I have learned that childrens quilts can be simple, yet so beautiful. Thank You.

  31. What an awesome project. I make child’s quilts every year for our local Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser.

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