The Story of Laura’s Quilt

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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.

 

Detail from ‘Laura’s Quilt’

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About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: maureen@wartski.org/ My blog is here: https://maureenwartski.wordpress.com/ Or friend me on Facebook!

13 responses »

  1. Maureen, thank you for doing such beautiful tribute. It’s always a pleasure to work on our quilts because there is so much love and caring and sharing involved!

  2. What a wonderful story about a very special quilt. I read Vijaya’s story too – that was a double surprise because Vijaya is a friend of mine. I have a vision for people making quilts with Bible story pictures on them for children. I also used hand-appliqued quilt blocks to illustrate my first Bible storybook. Check out my Bible Quilts blog at http://www.biblequilts.com.

  3. What a great story! It takes me to the time of my grandmother and her quilting group. I only wish at that time I could have appreciated the love and care that went into her quilts.

    • It makes you think, doesn’t it? I suspect that quilts have that mystique because so much time goes into their creation. Of course, knitting and crochet and spinning take a great deal of time, too, but there’s something about quilts. Maybe it’s the name? the word ‘quilt’ sort of rolls off your tongue like a song!

  4. Maureen, just a personal vignette regarding one of your breathtaking quilts. I couldn’t find the little blanket I use to take Zoe out for a walk on a cool day. I grabbed the quilt that is Ari’s and my favorite and reminds me of our being together and choosing some squares for it. The quilt was seen at the artists’ collaborative in the Chestnut Hill Mall right near the Landau condo. While there were other beautiful quilts on display there, none could compare to yours. The manager was in complete agreement with me. Loved your story and all that it represents. Fran

    • I am honored that the little quilt was seen at the Chestnut Hill Mall! Yes, we had fun picking out fabrics, didn’t we? I think that’s what makes a quilt so precious… the personal memories, the stories, and of course all those hopes and wishes… I look forward to the day when your grandbabies take their quilts to nursery school!

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