Every stitch in love
One of my favorite stories of my daddy’s childhood is the time he became very ill and had to stay at home for an extended period. The phrase “cut from the same cloth” has some merit in this story. His mom, my Mama (mawmaw,) helped him cut some butterflies out of fabric, and he stitched them onto quilt squares. But as will often happen with sick little boys, they get better, and so too did my dad. His quilt squares, the ones to take his mind off of not being in school, were soon forgotten and stayed that way for many years. A few months before my wedding, those quilt squares resurfaced – lovingly stitched into a quilt. Because the fabric is so fragile, we have to be extremely gentle with the quilt itself.
Unfortunately, as time marched on, my Mama grew older and eventually gave up quilting. (For the record, she still is a crocheting fanatic.) Although, I disagree with her, she often says, “What the good Lord didn’t give me in looks, he made up for the talent of using my hands!”
Because I never thought I would be talented enough to make a quilt, they are something I treasure – literally. Some of my most prized earthly possessions are quilts that either my Mama or my Nanny made.
One day I mustered enough courage and signed myself and one of my besties up for a “Quilting 101” class. My friend is quite an accomplished seamstress, who I must admit takes great joy in retelling the time that I called her in tears because I could not make heads nor tails out of a “Sewing for Dummies” costume pattern for the boys.
Much to my surprise, I had a real knack for quilting (albeit none of my quilts will probably ever win a purple ribbon at the fair). I think my analytical brain for math coupled with my love for matching colors pair nicely. (Who knew my hours spent in coloring books would have a future?)
My most recently finished quilt is one that ties in with both my daddy’s beginnings and my Mama’s end of quilting. One day, she discovered some unfinished butterflies in one of her closets. She loaded them up and had them mailed to me.
The butterflies were cut out and pinned to muslin backs. The only part that had been started was their antennae had been hand-stitched by my sweet grandmother. While I loved my Daddy’s style of applique, I wanted to make the butterflies . . . well unique.
The ultimate recipient of the quilt would be my Mama’s namesake, the third Cloie in our family – making this a fourth generation quilt. That’s right – four generations had a hand in the making of this quilt.
Since my little girl loves all things pink and purple as well as anything with butterflies and pigs, the quilt took on a life of its own. Somehow the finished product all came together.
The most daunting task was the beginning – learning to applique. The butterfly squares were a precious commodity. They were never going to be replenished; so, with much trepidation (and after hours practicing on throwaway fabric, the butterflies were machine embroidered onto the muslin backs using a variegated blue, purple, and green thread.
Next step was to determine what main fabric would be used in the simple pattern that I had chosen. Stumbling across a fabric that is a similar pattern to the one used in her big sister’s quilt was a God send. The pattern is the same with one in purple and one in blue (each girl’s favorite). One girl’s in flannel and the other in cotton.
That decision was a slam dunk, as were the choices that she made for the coordinating fabrics. Pinks, greens, purples, and her personal favorite: green with little pink pigs.
After what seemed like hours cutting squares, the piecing of the stacks of squares went blissfully quick.
Next off the whole works went to my friend with a long arm business for the actual quilting. She had a design which included butterflies, ladybugs, flowers, dragonflies, and hummingbirds. Darling!
Finally, we (I will give some credit to my sweetheart who helped) cut strips and strips and strips of remaining fabric to create binding for the queen-sized quilt. I spent one day bouncing between the garden and the craft room, sewing and ironing the binding.
The finished product is one that gives me goose bumps of joy just looking at it.
At a quilt shop over the weekend, I saw some pre-made labels that you could purchase and sew onto your quilts. One in particular caught my eye.
“A blanket is made with fabric, but a quilt is made with love.”
Based on the reaction of one little girl and her favorite pig, I think she knows that love was sewn in every stitch.