As I searched for something in storage, I came across several quilt tops. These were pieced together long ago by Grandma from the era – “No Scrap Goes to Waste.”
Each quilt top has an untold story of its own. Why was a specific pattern chosen? Was it best suited for the fabric on hand? You see, a lot of the small quilt pieces were fabric scraps from another sewing project, or re-purposed from a garment too worn or outgrown. Were the light colors from Grandpa’s Sunday dress shirts? Were the vintage patterned scraps from a child’s romper or Grandma’s house dress? Maybe they were from the neighbor’s scrap bag. It was not unusual for non-quilters to bring their bag of scrap fabric to Grandma. If only she were here to tell the story of each quilt. Instead, I let my mind and imagination fill in the details.
Quilt making was something Grandma loved. As long as I can remember, she always had one in-the-making; either cutting & piecing, quilting in quilt frames, or both at the same time. In fact, she died at her sewing machine while piecing a lone-star quilt top.
Once the tops were pieced together, friends and neighbors were invited for a quilting bee. Often the morning started with a short Bible lesson followed by coffee, good conversation, potluck lunch, more conversation, laughter and always LOTS of stitching. Not only did each quilt have a story, can you imagine the buzz of stories shared as the women stitched? I imagine there was plenty of advice shared on gardening, baking and canning as well as parenting, grandparenting, grown children, in-laws, and all things family. I know there was laughter, but I imagine there were tears and prayers shared too.
If I was with my Mom, Grandma would always encourage me to make a few stitches. I don’t remember how old I was when she first taught me how to make the tiny up and down running stitches. Though sloppy, uneven and sometimes not all the way through all layers of fabric and batting, as far as I know, my stitches were left in.
When I was an expectant first time mom, it was Grandma who taught me how to bind and finish the baby quilt I was making for my little one. Oh! the lessons one learns from a Grandma. I miss Grandma, but I cherish memories of her with girlfriends bent over quilt frame, needle in hand: caring, sharing, working together. I need to work on nurturing those kind of friendships because they are a vital part of my quilted life, and I don’t want to let any “scrap go to waste”.
“Dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Colossians 3:12-14 (The Message)
I have good intentions to hand-quilt the unfinished tops for my grown children, but unfortunately the love of quilting is primarily in my imagination. I guess I need a circle of friends to join me in some good ol’ fashioned quilting bees. In the meantime, the tops have been refolded and tucked once again into plastic storage bags stored behind closed closet doors.