A Tale of Two Quilts – DP#143

When I decided to make quilts for Hurricane Sandy Families it was very freeing for me. I had amassed a lot of favorite fabrics over the years and this was a way for me to put it all to good use. Rarely do I know anything at all about the recipient. If a friend of a friend asks me to make a quilt for someone the MOST information I get is… “They are a close knit family with three kids”… OR… “The quilt is for a husband and wife, in their early sixties, he likes to fish and she likes cats.” More commonly however, I get no information at all. I have total creative control over the entire project from beginning to end. I choose the design, the fabric, the backing, batting, border and final stitching… and cross my fingers the recipient/s will love it as much as I do.

If I am making a quilt for an organization such as Quilts of Valor… I need to follow their loose guide lines of using Red, White, and Blue fabric with a patriotic design. Again… I still have total control over the creative process… as long as I follow the concept.

Well… this Holiday Season my world got turned upside down. Two special quilts caught me off guard and had me looking at sewing in a whole new light.

QUILT #1…

Someone I know personally contacted me about making a quilt out of her son’s band shirts. “Sure”, I replied. My mind began planning the quilt before the shirts even arrived. First step would be to get a look at the school colors, and the mascot… then move on from there. I received a plastic bag of shirts a week later and when I opened the bag my jaw dropped to the floor!!!

What I saw before me was nothing but black shirts with names like Mayhem, Doom, Metallica, and others. OH MY!!!! Not at all what I expected. YIKES! Now what?  I took a deep breath… re-arranged my thinking… rolled up my sleeves and got to work. My heart just wasn’t into it. I went through the motions cutting up the shirts and tried my best to get enthused… but it just wasn’t happening.

I plodded through and eventually the top was finished, and ready to have the actual quilting done. I dragged my feet. The black and grey was depressing. I had no clue where to even begin. One day I sat down at my sewing machine, resolute to finish this thing and get it the heck out of my house. Ick!!

Placing the quilt under the presser foot, I sighed. Slowly I started stitching… black thread on grey fabric… blah. My mind went on cruise control. Thinking about the recipient of this quilt… a young man in his early twenties. He wouldn’t want a prissy, perfectly executed quilt. The light bulb over my head flashed BRIGHT… like a neon sign!! My hands started moving on their own in a different pattern. All the rules I have learned about quilting flew out the window. Leaving raw edges frayed, not following a straight line… the quilt was telling me what to do!!!

It turned out AWESOME!!! Edgy!! Perfect for a guy his age. Nothing at all what I envisioned when I first received the call about making the quilt.

I know his mother, the client… loved it. I can’t wait to hear his reaction!!!

Edgy Quilt 1

QUILT #2…

A young woman called and explained her father passed away 4 years ago, he always wore polo shirts, was a ham radio operator with a call sign… and asked if I would possibly consider making a memorial quilt out of his shirts as a surprise Christmas gift for her mother. Again I answered, “Sure.” And again I began designing the quilt before seeing the shirts. I envisioned ham radio logos, graphics, call signs and such. I was excited to get started.

The shirts arrived, I opened the bag, I pulled the shirts out and saw regular, plain, solid colored, well worn and well loved polos. Remnants of the life of a loved one… and this person, whom I have never met, trusted me to make something wonderful of them. Speak about PRESSURE!

I learned my lesson from the previous quilt. Let the shirts speak to me. Let the quilt design itself. “I am just the instrument”, became my constant mantra.

The first thing I did was to dump the shirts out onto my dining table and mix them up in a huge messy pile. With no preconceived plan, and a pair of scissors in my hand… I started cutting up the shirts. My heart was racing, not knowing what my hands were going to do… but I let them do what they wanted… and WOW was I amazed at the result!!!

Being guided by some other force… I cut and sewed, and sewed and cut until I finally came up for air. Shirt fabric flying left and right, I felt like Edward Scissorhands!  Again… this quilt designed itself… and I couldn’t have been more pleased!!

The block I am most proud of is the one with the CALL SIGN. The young woman told me the story of how her dad came to her in a dream and told her the call letters… W3GWW. I sewed a block of stripes, then appliqued the letters. Zigzagging around each one brought back memories of the hours and hours I spent sewing High School Band jackets and hundreds of ice hockey jerseys ‘back in the day’. I still have the skills!! Woo! Hoo!

Call sign

 

Quilt 2

I am honored to play a small part in the these families Christmases. Both will have an heirloom to treasure forever… and I helped to make it happen.

And THAT is what makes Christmas special to me!!!

Merry Christmas to one and all!!!!

Quilt 2 pinned 

 

  • Diane (Tarasovis) Stokes

    Wow, Deb! You’re amazing! I’m sooo impressed by your creativity!

    • Deb

      *Blush*… thank you. I am really just the instrument… the quilt takes over I do what it tells me. I know that sounds corny… but that’s the way it goes.

  • Janet Lynn Stiles-Brown

    One year I made the personal commitment to make a quilt of high school/college tees for each of the kids…they were tedious but cool when done…then Jess wanted to make one for Keith from all his Festival Badges and tees….we had so much, transferring his passes onto fabric, piecing it and such….and it ended up being two sided! I think I’m done…but they each have a great keepsake!

    • Deb

      Ohhh… They sound wonderful!!! I now have to put my nose to the grindstone and get Lauren’s quilts made. She has so many… High School Band shirts, Apple shirts, and College shirts. She’s guessing she needs 3!! Ugh! But as you say… certainly keepsakes.

  • Heidi

    Quilt #1 was a huge hit!!!!! He loved it!!! And as “different” for lack of a nicer word…as those t-shirts are, it’s a part of him and we couldn’t be happier!!