Every quilt has a story
There are quilts that are made to cuddle a new baby, or to comfort a sick child. There are prayer quilts and those that offer solace and some which are created to remember a dear lost one. Then there are quilts that sing only of joy.
This particular quilt stirred to life one warm August afternoon when the members of my quilt group, known as the Jewel Box Bee, were together. As usual, most of us were sleepily and happily digesting an excellent lunch when the question dropped like a pebble into a drowsy pool. “What are we doing about Bridget’s daughter’s wedding?”
What, indeed. And Laura’s wedding was in September! We looked at one another blankly for a moment and then our hostess sprang into action, hurrying to bring out yards of fabric from her personal stash. Now wide awake we debated each color and pattern, remembered that Bridget liked a neutral palette, and made a decision. This– a mellow beige—would be the cornerstone fabric, and each of us would add a paler and a darker fabric to make several of our bee’s signature ‘jewel box’ blocks.
Animated discussion followed. We considered colors and values and the merits of this pattern over that. During all of this, Janet rushed off to the sewing room to cut out squares of the chosen fabric. These small squares were passed to eager hands, and the story of Laura’s quilt began.
The members of our group went to work. We e-mailed absentees with instructions and suggestions. We dug out our own fabrics. Construction began. Then the finished 6 ½ inch jewel-box blocks were handed to Janet, who had volunteered to put them together, and in the fullness of time the quilt top was presented to the mother of the bride.
We compared stories of how we had rushed to finish our blocks. “I had to mail Janet the blocks because I was away,” Carol laughed. “I handed mine in under the wire… just a week ago,” Nan—who had been away in Pennsylvania—confessed. I pointed out that I had stayed up late to finish my blocks before leaving for Rome and our cruise. And Judy summed up: “I couldn’t believe how my blocks would end up in something this beautiful. There is so much love in this quilt.”
As each of us added our reminiscence, I thought that these are the kind of stories that are at the heart of the most beloved quilts. Yes, surely there are more newsworthy stories. There are tales of quilts that sailed across the seas with ancestors in long years past, and there are quilts that have comforted through war and flood and killing winter cold. We have gazed at heirloom quilts that have been passed down for generations and been awed by the exquisite work that wins ribbons at shows. But I believe that it is in homespun anecdotes and everyday stories such as ours— filled with easy talk among good friends, the soft whirr of sewing machines and the shifting, golden light of a summer’s afternoon—that the life-force is strongest. For here each stitch is a thought or a wish or a prayer from the heart and hands of the quilter
In the planning, the making, the giving, and the receiving, a chapter of this quilt’s story is complete. When its new owner traces the names that have been written in the blocks; when she wraps herself in its warmth and draws in its scent and makes it her own, a new story will begin. And because this is Laura’s quilt, those stories will be hers to tell.
Into each small block
Are sewn so many stitches…
Each a wish for joy.