Posted tagged ‘quilts’

Quilt Rescue

September 19, 2010

 A few of my friends are quilters.  One dyes her own fabric in the tub of her spare bathroom and creates the most intricately quilted and  beautiful wall hangings.  Another has been the president of her local quilting guild for years.  Still another learned quilting at her mother’s knee who learned it from HER mother and left my friend with a collection of quilts and skills spanning the generations.  She just finished a quilt that is being auctioned off to raise funds for an organization benefiting the prevention of child neglect and abuse.

That’s putting her skills to very good use.

My quilting efforts hardly equal theirs but I am a quilter as well.  I generally make smaller quilts from fabric that has been preprinted with some sort of design.  I worked on one while we were waiting for our son to arrive from Korea.  I quilted around pink, purple and teal printed  handprints and then decorated the nursery to match the quilt.  He also had a small quilt with Biblical scenes and characters on it for nap time at his daycare. 

I quilted another one with a nursery saying about the moon being bright and cookies and milk at night to take to Russia when we picked up our daughter from her orphanage.  Her favorite though was the butterfly quilt I made for her several years later.  She picked out the fabric for that one herself.   She still uses it sometimes….I think.

There have been a few others…one for the first grandchild….several for the babies of friends.  And I even have an heirloom quilt given to me by my grandmother.  It was made by a relative and handed down to HER.  The last time I looked at the information I had, I think I calculated the age of the quilt to being 154 years old????  Something like that.  Pretty cool.

If you like old things. 

Which I do.

And this weekend I have been involved in a ‘quilt rescue.’  For this….

I made this quilt 32 years ago when I came home from college.  Its the very first quilt I ever made.  I’d watched a friend make one of flannel and old jeans as a Christmas gift for a boyfriend.  It looked pretty simple.  At least simpler that the bedspread quilt I’d watched my mother piece together and hand quilt. THAT was an awesome project.

MY quilt consists of squares cut from old denim jeans and squares cut from flannel fabric purchased when K-Mart actually carried bolts of fabric and sewing supplies. The backing is an old sheet and the filling a roll of thin acrylic like fluff.  It was tied at each corner and in the center of each denim  square.  Soft, dense and heavy.  It was my favorite blanket…ever.

Its the blanket that has gone to the beach and been carried in the car for scores of trips and vacations. Its the one I used as a spread on the old steel bed in my bedroom.  It is the one my dog loved to sleep on and the one that covered the floor when my son was learning to crawl.   It is also the one that protected the bedding in our camper when he decided to upchuck the toddler turkey sticks, oreos and cola when the car stopped moving after a long drive to Gatlinburg. 

Its was the blanket of choice when my stepdaughter arrived at our house for the weekend with the flu and just could NOT get warm.  She was sound asleep just 20 minutes of wrapping herself in the ‘jean quilt.’  And she generally claimed it for every visitation weekend after that for months.

It s the blanket my husband fought me for when we cracked the window in our first apartment every single night and would wake up with frost on the end of our noses.

Soft, dense, warm and heavy.

With the passage of time it has gotten even softer….a little less dense…..a little  less heavy…..but no less warm.  And it had been regulated to our camper where the need for warmth was much greater.

When that camper was sold recently, the blankets found their way to our laundry room floor.  And since we are moving  in another month or so, I was planning to get rid of what we didn’t need any more.  I was sorting through things and came to the ‘jean quilt’ on the bottom of the pile.  It was in sad disrepair. I steeled myself and tossed the old quilt……into the washing machine.

And I have spent the entire day rejoining worn edges of denim and flannel, tucking in threads that have seperated with age, removing floss ties that have all but melted away and actually quilting around the inside of the denim squares.

It’s not that perfect…or even good…by any determination.  My quilting friends probably would have advised me to start in the middle and work my way out to a new binding edge or something.  Instead I started with the worst of the squares and just moved here and there.  The underside looks pretty sad but that’s okay.  Its no one’s ‘heirloom’ but mine….and it feels pretty good to be wrapped up in the old quilt again.

Soft and dense and warm and heavy.

Some things just can’t be replaced.


January 22, 2009


  “For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.  We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers.  We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace. ”    Barack Obama

I loved that quote from his speech.  A ‘Patchwork Heritage.’  I never thought about it that way but I guess we are.  I was born and raised in the same small community in south east Michigan.  I went to school, took driver’s training and worked at a local K-Mart.  My parents – in the interest of having us ‘see the world’ – took us on trips throughout Michigan, to California and Florida.  I have seen the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, bears at Yellowstone Park, the race track in Daytona, Disneyland AND Disney World as well as collected sea shells from both coasts of Florida.  I lived on campus while attending a small liberal arts college about 40 minutes away from that home for two years and then spent two years in the wide open spaces of Edmond, Oklahoma.  I returned home and lived with my parents until I got married.

My husband, on the other hand, was the son of a career Marine.  He was born in South Carolina and lived in Minnesota and California before coming home to roost in a bustling small town not far from where I grew up.  His  childhood ‘vacation’ experiences basically entailed moving a large family from one military base to another.  He would also spend time at a lake cottage belonging to his grandparents as a teenager.  He got a job, married young, had two daughters and was divorced….’til he met me.

My son was born in Seoul, Korea and spent the first month of his life in a hospital and the next three months with a Korean foster family.  He had a passport and international travel under his belt before I did.  He made the journey from Seoul to Tokyo and Tokyo to Detroit when he was four months old.  He traveled with a baby girl on her way to New York and a professor from the University of Seoul who was a regular ‘escort’ for his Korean adoption agency.  We were told that he wouldn’t take a bottle during the trip but was fed yogurt.  He was dressed in four layers of clothing when he arrived in late June….and a huge smile that made his eyes totally disappear.

My daughter was born in Tuva, a region of Russia that juts into the country of Mongolia.  We are not exactly sure of when or where but we know that someone was looking out for her relative safety.  She entered a Russian baby home at the approximate age of twenty one months.  She was moved to a children’s home in the same town (Kyzyl) when she was four.  She had just turned five when she took her first plane trip from Abakan to Moscow.  We shopped, ate McDonald’s french fries, obtained her visa and flew from Moscow to home .

The four of us live in a home in a community about 30 minutes from the house where I grew up.  It’s only 15 minutes from the home  where my husband’s family lived.  There are small towns and rapidly disappearing farm lands all around us.  Our ‘big’ city is Detroit…and it’s nearly an hour’s drive away….unless the traffic is light and the freeway is free of ice.   We rarely travel those roads.

I think it’s interesting…..miraculous… people from – literally – four corners of the earth can be brought together to become a family.  Factor in the two stepdaughters, one son in law and three grandchildren and the ‘quilt’ becomes even more vivid.  Add the silken border of extended family that ribbons from South Carolina to Florida to Maryland to Taiwan to Indonesia…and you have OUR quilt.  We are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Agnostic and maybe Buddhist.  Just another of your average American families.