Part Three: Delia’s Birthday Book

First, a little background:


Easter, 1969. Mom sewed for three of us, Anne made her outfit. And John… was John. Photo by Marshall C. Smith.


Lois & Clark. Making it look easy most of the time. Photo by Marshall C. Smith.

I was blessed with older siblings for many years before I realized what a blessing it was to have them. As the youngest of five, born in the first 7 years of the 1950s –  I took a lot for granted. I did not grasp until later that my parents had a super power that let them not only raise and love 5 children but to enjoy doing it, or that my siblings were much more patient than I gave them credit for, and I was lucky to make it to the show (it really was quite a show, at times!).

All that said, 50+ years later my sisters and I are what remain of the original traveling troupe, and we are more than halfway into our shared dotage. We live in three different states and two non adjacent time-zones, and have 4 husbands and 8 children between us. Two of us are grandmothers, and three have passed 60.

Which leads me to the birthday books:  When the first sister was about to slip into her 60s, we wanted to make her a memento. A memory quilt would have been the perfect choice but for my stipulation that “a gift that can’t be either displayed OR folded up in a drawer is more of an obligation.” So Hallie got a folding, fabric-based book of sweet birthday wishes from her own family, and her sisters  families;  14 months later Anne’s was based on pictures and anagrams of her name and other phrases. Which brings us to this year. Delia’s book contains puzzles, puns, song lyrics, anagrams, etc. as suits her personality. Where Hallie’s book was almost all sewn, drawn or appliqued, by now almost every page was printed on fabric from files emailed to me. The pages are the size of record albums (you can look that up, kids) and each has a piece of stiff interfacing that allows the pages to turn like a book. The two rows of pages fold back-to-back and then the book accordion folds. I tried hard to find framing fabrics that coordinate with the images, and have pictures of a couple of pages in progress:


Thanksgiving 1957 at the Green Forest.


Photo of a final slide from an MCS slideshow.

Delia's book, having traveled from California in a carry on bag...

Delia’s book, having traveled from California in a carry on bag… These wrinkles may fade. Photo by Marshall C. Smith

Each time there is a refinement in the construction process — but it’s still just a labor of love, a puzzle to solve, and a lot of fun. I am so grateful to have the chance to celebrate my siblings!



About sewberkeley

I'm happiest making things.
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2 Responses to Part Three: Delia’s Birthday Book

  1. lissaminer says:

    Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing family photos and your quilting construction. The picture showing how all of squares are connected is an “aha.” Beautiful work1

    • sewberkeley says:

      Thanks, Lissa. This is now the third book, for the third sister. Each one is different in ways that make it personal to that sister, and all fit the original constraint – they can sit on the coffee table, or in a drawer when necessary or desired. This Summer I had the opportunity to revisit this book, and several other projects, while visiting family back-east. It was fun to see this project having forgot details of its “labor and delivery”, and just as fun to encounter other projects I’d completely forgotten about over the years. Old friends, well used and loved by family. Wonderful!

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