Thursday, April 19, 2012

QUILTS (A-Z April Blog Challenge)

The wedding quilt '83
My mother was a quilt maker.  And somehow, she always surprised you.  Most remarkable were the wedding quilts.  Sometime during our wedding receptions, each one of her five children opened up a box to find their velvet quilt inside.  Small 4 x 4 squares of velvet, rich, deep colors of blues, greens, reds and browns.  All hand stitched, large enough to cover a queen bed.  And, amazingly enough, you never saw it coming.  Never saw her place one stitch on the quilt, which had to have taken hundreds of hours to do amongst all the wedding preparations.  Secret time, squirreled away at home, or on breaks at work. 
Quick recall and mathematics (neither my strong point) puts her at a minimum of 25 quilts throughout my lifetime, which most likely really puts the number closer to 35 – 40.  And almost all of them done by hand, not machine.    
The embroidered quilt - circa 1990
And although the velvet ones were beautiful and luxurious, it was the personalized embroidered ones that were the most incredible.  Again, all done in secret, individually embroidered squares, depicting holidays, seasons, and a myriad of details of you and your spouse’s lives, including hobbies, pets, occupations, homes, etc.  These were the quilts that told the story of your lives before you came together as man and wife and the first few years of your marriage. 
Five grandchildren all got smaller versions on the personalized embroidered ones and light throw quilts for their twin beds as they grew up.   
My lap quilt to mom
Following her lead, I have made three quilts, all by hand.  Two of them were large ones, one for my in-laws and one for my parents.  Though I liked them both and they meant a lot to me, my favorite was the third, smaller lap throw that I made for my mom.  In an old hope chest I was storing for my parents, were some articles of clothing.  A favorite party dress of my mom’s from her early 20’s, and outfits from her five children.  I stuck my courage to the sticking post that I wasn’t going to break her heart by cutting them up and made a lap quilt for her.  Fortunately, all went well and it was well received.  She kept it on her chair and many of her letters talked about her placing it over her legs on a cool evening and giving herself over to the memories that came with each square of material she slid her hand over. 
I often lament that I didn’t get my mom’s creativity of her art or music.  However I found through the years that we both shared a love of writing (although no fiction for her) and feel that I connected with the joy she felt in quilt making.  I didn’t realize until I’d made one of my own that you are stitching a part of yourself into the quilt.  I think of the hundreds of thousands of stitches in her quilts; that’s a lot of mom that we all share. 

11 comments:

  1. WOW...can't stop crying this morning...this is magnificent! ((hugs)) yup

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  2. This is wonderful! My daughter has been setting aside some of her children's clothing as the outgrow them, with the specific intent of those fabrics being made into squares for a quilt. Neither she nor I have the first clue how to make quilts, but when the time comes, I'm sure she'll either learn or find someone who can create the quilt(s) for her.

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    1. It's such a wonderful thing to lay it across your lap and have it be all those individuals come together as one thing.

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  3. Hi, I enjoyed your post about family quilts. I have made quite a few quilts - quilts for children, grandchildren and baby quilts for great grandchildren, but mine are made with my sewing machine and I quilt them as I go. Right now, I am working on a quilt for my grandson and his wife for their queen size bed. My sister and mama made handmade quilts. I have one my sister made for me called a "flower garden" quilt. Best regards to you.
    Ruby aka Grammy :)

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    1. Sewing machine or hand made, they were all cherished as I'm sure yours are. It's the love that goes into them that people feel. Thank you for stopping by!

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  4. This is such a lovely post! My grandma was the quilter in our family. All told, she made me three quilts. My graduation quilt I cherish the most because I laid it over my Mom the night she died. I put that one in plastic to preserve it forever as the last thing my mom used.

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com/

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    1. Ah Kathy, my heart clenches. How beautiful.

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  5. my grandmother, queenie made quilts to--from anything old her sons had out-grown or curtains--she too made smaller ones for us--what a lovely post

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  6. Some runners make quilts out of the T shirts from various races to preserve. I'm neither a quilter nor a runner, but I've seen some of the quilts and they're a nice memory.

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  7. Yes, stitching quilts is like writing with all the words strung together to make a wonderful item which brings back memories from each peice of fabric. Blog on!

    http://francene-wordstitcher.blogspot.com

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  8. Stitches in time, that also provide comfort and warmth are treasures indeed.

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