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A Playtime Project: The Memory Quilt

A friend recently suggested a use for my daughter's first wardrobe, which I've dutifully saved in the back of the closet, and lugged on two long distance relocations. Turns out she's done the same thing with her daughter's first clothes, and we've decided to make memory quilts. This playtime project preserves my little girl's everyday playclothes for no other reason than that they are hers.

Having been raised in a somewhat non-sentimental household, I jumped at the chance to engage in something that could possibly boost child emotional development at the same time that it provided a way for my daughter to feel connected to happy childhood events. I suppose it's my way of compensating for something I always wished I had. By the time I was born, the fascination with baby girls was past, and whatever I used and wore was handed off to Goodwill when I was finished with it.

The project lets you conserve storage space by cutting those favorite 0-3 month outfits into workable squares-or if you're an experienced quilter, you may feel confident experimenting with different shapes. I've never tried this before, so I don't want to complicate it with my perfectionist tendencies. I want to turn this into something we can do with our daughters-it always surprises me how young children can take to things that we assume are beyond them.

I went through the clothes to separate them according to "cuttability." Fearful of violating airline luggage allowances, and mindful of movers' square footage guidelines, I've unwittingly reduced the cherished collection little by little; this last relocation I was so desperate to conform to the rules that I left behind many of the pieces I had faithfully saved. Our having been in the Caribbean this past hurricane season further persuaded me to fork over even more of the little wardrobe to children whose homes (and wardrobes) had been destroyed. The pieces that remain are so few in number that I find I cannot bear to take the scissors to any of them.

And so the playtime project will consist less of quilting, and more of time spent sitting on the floor, arranging tiny high-tops, Mary Janes and workboots into shadow boxes. There's also the first jean jacket, overalls and the dress Little One wore to "school" when she was four months old. All of these are small enough to pass for doll clothes, and therein lies their preciousness. The rest are tiny crew neck sweaters, a little rain slicker, and the pajamas she wore in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit. These, with selected Boston Globe front pages will go into a trunk alongside the baby book (volumes I and II), the photo albums of the first years, and The Scrapbook; to be opened with great fanfare on some birthday after "we" have reached the Age of Appreciability.

Tricia Wellington

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