Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Niece, Altruism, Scraps and a Reversible Quilt

When my brothers' daughters were little, they were part of Camp Quilt for three summers. My mother and their mothers would pitch in, as would Uncle John, and the result was that Laura, Candace, Leslie, and Ali all made quilts, pretty much by themselves. Of course the Good Quilting Fairy was a part of this process. The first summer each girl kept their quilts. The second and third summers I suggested that they make quilts for the church nursery or someone else. My recollection is that they didn't (maybe Candace gave one to her Grandma Miller and maybe Ali gave one to a friend) and that there was eye-rolling at the suggestion. The winter of my niece Leslie's senior year of high school, she asked if she could make a quilt for a friend of hers who was going away. Aha! She above all got it: that quilts were meant to be given away. (Leslie also enlisted my help in making her parents a Christmas photo quilt but that's a separate blog entry).

So when Leslie was her working on her 4th quilt, we decided it was time she learned how to use the rotary cutter. My teaching style is to give some basic directions and then try not to hover. Leslie had her fabrics, knew what to do, and was just cutting away. She asked at one part, pretty far into the process, "Should I be starting at the 0 instead of the 1?" She had cut quite a bit of fabric 1" short. I remember scooping up the miscut pieces and telling Les it was no big deal, and she continued her cutting, this time using the correct measurements by starting at 0.
I saved these scrap pieces, and they became part of a demonstration in foundation piecing for a reversible quilt class that I was teaching. The quilt pictured here has 48 blocks. One side's blocks are all half-square triangles using fabrics from Leslie's quilts. The other side are scrap strips from various projects. Look at the February 6, 2008 blog entry when the body of this quilt was originally done. It's just been sitting, waiting to be completed.

My friend Cathy is on the committee to find a suitable going-away present for her long-time minister Laura at the Downers Grove United Church of Christ and asked if I had any quilts just hanging around. Cathy spotted this scrap quilt. So I finished it, giving a bit of unity by using the same border on the front and the back. Even the binding uses scraps of bindings from various quilts. Reverend Laura is a wonderful woman who has a great ability to bring various personalities together into a unified whole. This quilt is symbolic in some ways of Laura's talent and ministry. That this quilt started with my niece Leslie's altruism makes it even more special. 58" x 74"


Rose Marie said...

I gave away 7 quilts before making one for me to keep. It always amazes me what we can make with scraps and this quilt is a perfect gift.

Josie Ray said...

Well, I love the second side of the quilt the very best, with all the almost-candy colors. And how the lines in the diamonds deliberately don't line up. Lately, I've loved the scrap-quilt color cacophony in quilts and afghans. You can throw one piece like that in a room, and it looks so rich and warm, drawing the eye and the person to investigate further.

It must be wonderful to teach others, and to teach them to quilt. But more importantly, if you can teach even one person to give, you "shall not live in vain."

As always, thank you for your kind comments on my blogs! :-) Re: B. Kingsolver, I'm afraid that I'm a classics reader and remain deliberately oblivious to modern authors :-). However, I love how you described the balance between man and nature.

Josie Ray said...

Yea!!! I made my first MORS bag today. This morning, I threw an old shirt into the trash, then sat down to read Create & Decorate. They had an ad for The Perfect Made Handbag, and it reminded me: Hey! I could make my first trial MORS bag out of that shirt! So I did. It's not particularly pretty. Just a faded french-blue solid and I used white thread. But I think it will be useful, and it was a good start.

Donna said...

Josie Ray, let me know if the madness that is Mors bags takes over your life. The Mors bag people last week sent out an email to the bigger pods in the US, asking for someone to mail the NBC Today show a couple of bags because they were going to do a segment on Mors bags. My buddy Wayne had a couple laying around and sent them. The segment was actually about repurposing, and Mors bags got all of a 15-second mention. We were disappointed there wasn't a bigger mention, but at least it's something. Brilliant - using an old shirt. Today I'm finishing bags #7 - 15! Woo Hoo!