Last week I wrote about a quilt I backed with Minky, in which I turned the back to the front to make a self-binding. Sandy is a newer blog reader and asked for more information on this technique. I’ve used it many times and the first time was on a quilt for my granddaughter Rainee, who was 3 at the time ~ and she’s now 11. My how time flies. I wrote a post on it at that time and you can click here for the step-by-step tutorial. Thanks for asking Sandy!
And now for the story of my most recent quilt:
The son of our dear friends, Randy and Donna, died in a tragic accident in 2020. Stephen was deeply loved by his family and this was a very difficult time. In a conversation with his mom a year or so after his death, she asked if I’d ever made a quilt from clothing. I told her I’d made many t-shirt quilts, and some of those were memorial quilts, but I’d be happy to make whatever they’d like. Quite a bit of time passed and one day I got a text saying she “was ready”. We agreed on a time to meet and then she texted me “I don’t know why this is so hard for me”. My response was “I do. I can’t even imagine how hard this must be.”
We met for lunch and had a lovely conversation. Then the subject turned to Stephen’s quilt. She said to just do whatever I wanted with the bag of clothes she’d brought. I asked her many questions and I could see discussing it was difficult for her. So I said I’d come up with a few options and share them with her. I went home and spread out the contents of the bag. Stephen was an honored marine veteran, and an avid hunter. His clothes reflected that.
The color palette was pretty much set, but what would I do with that orange hunting vest? Just wait and see 😊! I chose a simple 8″ block, and began to cut and piece. Quite a bit of stabilizing of the stretchy fabrics was need. And, as far as the orange, I cut it into 1″ bias strips and pressed them in half to be sewn into some of the seams.
Also included in the bag was an 8″ x 10″ photo of Stephen’s beloved cat Toki.
I cleaned up the photo in Affinity Photo, lightened the background, and printed Toki on fabric. Then I completed 9 blocks and laid them out together:
At this point I sent a photo of the project to Donna with a bunch of questions: Do you like the blocks? Is a small wallhanging good, or would you like it larger? Would you like a lap quilt to snuggle with?
She responded with “it’s fine. We’ll leave it to your descretion”. This was a learning moment for me. I realized these decisions were uncomfortable for them and they wanted the quilt, but they didn’t really know what they wanted. I was overwhelming them with questions and needed to be more aware of the signals these dear people were sending.
So I decided to make the wallhanging a little larger, add narrow borders, quilt it, bind it, and embellish with the extra items she’d included in the bag. One of the extra items was a pair of mittens from his childhood. They were too big to appliqué to the quilt, so I traced around one, shrunk the pattern down, and cut two from one of the mittens. The scale was much better.
Once it was completed I put it in a gift bag and handed it to Donna the next time I saw her. I told her to look at it when they were ready. I then asked her if we could meet up and have a conversation about what questions were appropriate and any advice she had for me if I have the opportunity to do this again for someone else. She agreed. Later that day I received a text that said “I can’t tell you how much I love the quilt! We’ll talk about it soon. THANK YOU!”
The Bible says that “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord; for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). I’ve seen this work in Randy and Donna’s life. While mourning for Stephen they attended a Grief Share program. I have another friend who runs one of these programs through her church in Oconomowoc, and it has been a blessing to so many who are suffering. As part of their healing, Randy and Donna have started a Grief Share group of their own here in Watertown. It’s a ten week program which they repeat throughout the year. They are reaching so many with healing. God has used their grief to bless many, many others; and as a result Randy and Donna are growing and being blessed! Praise the Lord!