Friday, November 29, 2013

The Tenacity of Quilts

In the early 80's, God provided for this Young Mama, a neighbor, a confidant, a helper, a friend in the shape of an older mama, (just two years older than I am now), to come along side me to help me adjust to being away from my family for the first time.  Due to a job change, my young family packed up and moved three hours north from my home town.  I had a three year old and a nine month old in tow and felt lost, discombobulated and overwhelmed.  At the exact same time, my neighbor had just retired and was wondering how to fill her days.

My, my.  Did we ever cover that nagging question!

This needy young mom clenched onto her loving, caring ways with a firm grip.
This Wonderful Woman babysat my children, taught me how to paint on china, shared her vast life learned wisdom and encouraged my creativity.  I was known to ask her over for supper and have her bring the main course.  And she did with a great deal of entertainment and enjoyment. 


 Wonderful Woman had a plethora of friends that she introduced us to as we entangled ourselves into her life.
We were embraced readily as her buds could see what a blessing our rag tag group was to her.

 One friend in particular was an excellent crafter.  She could fashion huge wool rugs out of strips of old coats.  She could quilt like no other.  And she promised to share these crafts with me.  A stroke robbed her of much of her capabilities and as dementia took over her life, my opportunity to learn from a master evaporated.
Before she met her devastating fate, she handed off to me, a legacy of her talent.
As a young woman in the 1930's, she pieced a quilt top and like most of us quilters, she packed it away, 'for another time'.
Why she deemed me worthy to complete this quilt, I have no idea but I am ever so glad she did.

 My skills were undeveloped at that time so I folded it carefully and refolded it on occasion, plotting and planning for the day that I would complete it.  Pregnant with my fourth child in 1987, I decided to attempt the quilt.  I began adding appliqued hearts to the white spaces because my fourth child was destined to be a Valentine's baby.
I probably got through two rows of hearts when my Baby Girl arrived and the reality of caring for four children prompted me to, once again, fold up the quilt and store it for another time.

 Fast forward to 2012 and my Baby Girl announced the arrival of her second child, a daughter.  With her first child, she had a clear plan of a quilt  that she wanted her firstborn to possess from her Mimi.  But the second one came before the second birthday of the first and quilt planning was less important to a very busy young mama.
Then I remembered the very vintage quilt tucked away in my stash and my memory.
I showed Baby Girl the unfinished attempt at the heart applique that I attempted for her and she liked it.  She acquired fabric scraps from her mother in law's fabric stash from her grandmother and added some checked flannel from BG's grandfather's pajamas, and we were set to begin. 

Last fall, as we awaited Baby Girl #2, I cut and sewed (enlisting the help of Most Loving Friend during a weekend visit) and prepared this long ago quilt.  Kindred Spirit friend donated fabric to me while on a visit last summer, that would work perfectly as the backing.  I added some free form black stitched embroidery to the borders, to make it more me.  I embroidered flowers, pumpkins, swirls and leaves and her lovely name, Della James, as we traveled this past October to Kansas City to visit their new location.  The heavy weight of the near completed quilt provided close quarters in the front seat of the car as we journeyed the many miles to their new home.
There was just enough fabric from the stash to complete the bindings on this quilt.
I pieced what I could salvage, determine to use the memorable fabric to it's fullest.
Then, this week, this holiday week, I worked on hand stitching all the bindings to finalize this long awaited project.
Last night, Thanksgiving Evening, seated amongst my dear ones, in front of the fire, I completed this quilt, started over 80 years ago by a woman who entrusted me to the task.

Quilters, keep an eye to legacy when creating a quilt.  Quilters, understand that your talent has merit and the memories created with a quilt is worthy.  Remember to entrust others to projects that will be seen to fruition....someday... and that your story will be told years from when you started your project and that is okay.

Quilts are stories in fabric and quilters weave the story.
See to it that you find or create your story for yourself and your family.


  1. Have I ever told you how proud I am to call you Friend. This made me smile and cry all at the same time. Love you much!

  2. Love you too, Carol! I so often wonder if we were ever able to share the same zip code, what kind of creative implosion would occur? Maybe we'll find out some day...


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