Creating The Quilt Garden

The Quilt Garden children's book being held up in front of some quilts outside  Tondi holding her granddaughter as they walk between two quilts that are hung up outside.

Once upon a New Years Eve in 2022, the idea of writing a children’s book based on the garden my parents have been growing was mentioned, and the next day the story was written! 

Since the book is finally being released, I wanted to share some of the backstory and behind the scenes to creating it. 

My mom, Tondi, officially became Nana in 2013 when her first grandchild was born. Since then, she has had 3 more grandkids who love to spend time at Nana’s house whenever they get to come visit. Especially Nana’s backyard, which is quite large compared to most suburban yards nowadays. Nana has been planting flowers and bushes in the back area of her yard for several years now in the hopes of it eventually being full enough to feel like a garden maze. Her yard is also full of hummingbird feeders, regular bird feeders, wind chimes, and sometimes she hangs up quilts among her tree grove. 

In 2020, like most people, I found myself at home all of a sudden and decided to finally find myself a hobby. Since my mom had been quilting for years, it was a natural choice for me to try and I loved it! Perks of having a quilter for a mom was that she passed down one of her sewing machines to me to help me get started and of course taught me so much about quilting. 

In 2021, I had my first daughter and quickly realized how enjoyable children's picture books are to read, especially rhyming ones! So when my mom mentioned the idea of writing a children's book, I jumped right to it. It was just the push I needed to take the plunge. Of course, I had no idea how much self-publishing would end up entailing, but I have loved learning so much about the world of children's books (and honestly can't wait to do it again for our next book). 

The book has all the things my mom (and me) love - quilts, hummingbirds, and flowers galore! I really wanted it to have a bit of an enchanted vibe when I created it as well, because little children are so good at seeing the magic in all the seemingly ordinary things around them. 

After writing the initial manuscript for the book and creating a rough storyboard for it, my brain hit the pause button, and my mom propelled us forward into getting it illustrated. She helped find our illustrator and worked with them to bring our vision to life. I might have written the words, but this book absolutely would not exist without my mom - her inspiration, encouragement, writing the quilt pattern, making sample versions of it, and probably a hundred other things behind the scenes to make this come to fruition. 

After the illustrations were complete, came the typography and oof, honestly this was the most challenging part for me and in the future I will likely hire someone for this portion. There are a million different ways to put text onto the page in a children's book, some people keep it simple, some make it really fun and wavy and colorful, some do BIG words and siLly words. There are endless fonts, sizes, placements, colors, etc. etc. etc.......... But perhaps part of what I love about children's books is there are no rules - and there are no two books that are done exactly the same way. 

I would probably have to write a whole other book to go into all the other pieces of the puzzle that is self-publishing (but I am already busy working on another children's book so that will have to wait), so I will just leave you with this: I hope anyone that reads The Quilt Garden gets a little reminder of the beauty and magic in nature and in making something whether it is a quilt, art, a book, etc. When we make something, it always has a little piece of us, and I personally think that is magical. 

Tessa  <3

Birdie sitting in Nana's lap reading The Quilt Garden with quilts hung up around them 

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