I remember going to a silent auction and standing beside a donated quilt. I was admiring all the elements such as colour, pattern, layout and quilting when a lady beside me broke my admiration by stating in a rather brusk and annoyed manor, “I’ll never understand it, they take perfectly good fabric, cut it up and sew it all back together!” and off she went in a huff.
I was floored and amazed at her thought process, never once had that ever occurred to me. As a quilter I take all the beautiful fabrics around me and curate them into an entirely new design to create a new thing of beauty.
I often take an historical perspective when thinking about life. The origins of quilts was of utility, thrift and necessity. These women created beauty out of rags, flour sack and anything they could resource.
I was approached by a friend of a friend about 10 months ago with the idea of transforming a widows husbands flare of wild shirts into a memory quilt for her. We finally met in person this past November where we touched and admired the variety of shirts. We explored a variety of quilt styles and were able to decide on the feel and look that she wanted her late husbands shirts to be represented. This was an exciting start to a creative partnership.
Christmas came and went, our house went on the market and I needed to get on it. I have a wonderful quilting friend who loves to piece and doesn’t do any free motion quilting. We have struck up a wonderful relationship. She pieces tops for me and I quilt for her. A match made in heaven. So one morning she came over and I gave her the marching orders for these shirts. It was great to have this creative interaction as we matched colours and set up the design for the top.
26 hours later and an amazing collection of double hour glass blocks, I was ready to break it down of how to construct the quilt. As I crunched numbers and played with the variety of layouts I realized that I could construct 4 lap sized quilts, one for each of her daughters and i for my client. Again the lines of creativity and collaboration were opened and we were able to work out the logistics. This was very rewarding for me as a creator to have the collaboration and feedback from my client who doesnt have a quilting background, I welcomed her ‘fresh’ eyes.
I thought it would be meaningful to have all the quilts pieced the same way but have the quilting be different and if possible reflect the personality of the daughters and mom. Again the collaboration and insights were shared.
This was more emotional for me than I had imagined. I had never had the privilege of meeting this husband and father but had heard many stories and seen pictures. As I pressed the blocks and quilt his smell came out and I imagined his warm hugs he had given over the years to his wife, daughters, grandchildren and friends. My mind turned to memories of my dad and to the incredible impact he had and continues to have on my life. I was privileged and honoured to have been apart of the mourning and more importantly the celebration of him.
I imagined the gifting of the quilts. I imagined the daughters smelling the quilt and squishing it into their faces. I imagine the movies that will be watched as they cuddle up with their new treasure. I imagine the back of the couch that will proudly display the memory of their cherished father.
Quilts are much more than perfectly good fabric cut up and then sewn back together. They are works of art and for this case treasured family heirlooms that will be cherished and loved. They represent much more than threads.
When I made my final delivery to her home she had about three photo albums on her dining room table and proceeded to cheerfully show me pictures of her husband wearing the specific shirts from the quilt. Her plan is to make an album for her girls with pictures of their dad in his shirts when she gifts the quilts.
Again it was an honour and blessing for me to have been a part of this incredible family memory. I was so pleased to have been a part of this wonderful family honouring their dad. I have spent some time reflecting on my own dad and my interactions with him are cherished even more.
The sentiment of a quilt is as unique as each quilt. Each quilt brings love and sentiment into the world.