Monday, June 13, 2016

Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt


My dad volunteers for Meals On Wheels and has developed relationships with the people he delivers meals to. In talking with one of them, he's learned that she used to quilt. As a result, over the course of about eight months, she has sent him home with bags of fabric that she thought I might find a use for. In the latest bag was a quilt top. 


Imagine my shaky hands and fluttery breath when I opened up this wrinkly quilt top and discovered it was a generously sized and complete Grandmother's Flower Garden! With bright happy colors and zero damage from being stored for however long!


The first thing I did was call Dad and ask him to make sure she intended to give this away. She did! The second thing I did was to post a photo on Instagram asking for advice on how to get the musty smell out. Should I rinse and dry it before pressing and quilting? Should I wait until it was complete to wash it in order to avoid damage? Would pressing it "seal in" the musty odors? Oxiclean? Sunlight?


Ultimately, I let it air out for four or five weeks. I hung it outside a few times and after just waiting for it to breathe, it smelled much better and I was able to handle it. I carefully pressed it and was so delighted to see how well the octagons were made and how flat the quilt top laid. I quilted it on my home sewing machine with straight lines about an inch apart down the length of it. It's backed in a barely blue lawn and bound in an aqua pin dot. It's been washed and dried and I absolutely ADORE it! Like, I find myself looking at it and I can't believe that it's mine. The colors. The fabrics -- repurposed from clothing, sheets and other things I'm sure. The pattern - one I'll never make for myself. I truly can't even believe it's mine.

And isn't that the thing about quilters? This kind woman who has never met me decided that, as a fellow quilter, I would understand and appreciate the hours she put into this quilt. That I would understand on such a visceral level the importance of her work. That I would understand her design choices and agree with each and every one of them. That I would finish what she had started and make sure to use the quilt. Beyond the beautiful textiles. Above the process of needle and thread. This, THIS, is why I love quilting.

Kindness. Generosity. Trust. And love.

-dana

19 comments:

Anna said...

That quilt is beautiful! And your quilting on it is perfect - let those fabrics shine!!

Robby H. said...

What a gorgeous quilt, made all the more special by the work of two strangers who share a bond in quilting. I hope you sent her a picture of the finished piece. I'm sure it would make her day.

Jenny said...

lovely quilt...lovely story.

Lucy @ Charm About You said...

Oh Dana I have tears in my eyes. I couldn't agree more and it's such a beautiful, very special quilt. Incredible colours and so classic. A true treasure!

Beth said...

A very special gift from one quilter, to be finished and loved by another quilter. It is gorgeous. You finished it perfectly.

Jo said...

It is absolutely stunning! Will you take it to the lady who gave it to you and let her see it all finished? x

beth s said...

What a lovely post. Enjoy your beautiful quilt!

Megan said...

Wow, that's amazing.

dolores said...

That's how I feel about the antique blocks you gave me!!
xxoo

Kar said...

So completely beautiful! What a treasure to have been given. : )

Judy said...

I had goosebumps just reading this, and it fell into the perfect hands :)

Wanda H said...

What an incredibly gorgeous quilt, and wonderful karma that it fell into your hands!

Purple Quilter Queen said...

That is amazing!!!

AnnieO said...

Gorgeous quilt! And wonderful words...

the girlfriend gap said...

Dana, From one generation to the next.... quilts will forever be loved. It is so beautiful! I love to look at old fabrics. Lucky you! Janita

greg @ grey dogwood studio said...

I love that story! How incredibly thoughtful and generous of her to gift it to you. And it's also incredibly thoughtful and generous of your father to volunteer for Meals on Wheels.

Sewgirl said...

HI Dana,
I was lucky like you...a neighbor gifted a grandmothers flower garden quilt to a fellow neighbor and quilter friend, and my quilter friend gave it to me, as it had a few holes that needed to be dealt with. Another woman in my guild was able to fix the holes with some vintage fabric she had and I had it hand quilted by a church group (for a fee of course!). It too is one of my favorite quilts...a friend of my DH's was over and wanted to buy it for a gift for his wife for their anniversary. I said no way...it's not for sale!!! Congrats on such a beautiful piece. I know you will cherish it. That's why you were entrusted with it!

KaHolly said...

Simply amazing!

Judy P. said...

You are both lucky! You for receiving such a wonderful, unexpected gift, and her for finding someone who would give this quilt the love and care that it so richly deserves. Congratulations. You sound like a lovely person.