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.