Sarah is a voracious reader, who declared during our first quilt interview that she loves "all books." Under closer interrogation, she admitted a special love for Tolkein and the Harry Potter series. She was also into horses, travel (to Italy), and anthropology. She had her own personal subscription to National Geographic magazine (with its yellow spine). She reported several favorite colors: Sky blue, yellow, light purple, lavender, and forest green. Her mother informed me that she almost never wore clothing with patterns.
The results are at right. Images from novelty fabrics (horses, dragons, Harry Potter, the Leaning Tower of Pisa) were raw-edge appliqued to the dark borders. In the photo below, a detail from the bottom-center of the quilt, the fantasy fellows are arguing over who gets to say Kiddush). There's a photo-transfer of the family in the lower left corner. Guests signed only the light colored 'books' stacked around the borders.
If you must have a big bar or bat mitzvah celebration - if it's not enough, after the services, for the family to go out for hot fudge sundaes and then lie down for long, well-deserved naps - well, then, the celebration may as well be personal, spiritual, colorful, and a reflection of the child's interests and connection to the community and to his or her Jewish heritage.
And there's not much that does all that more effectively and creatively than a signature quilt.