Quilts for Sale

Saturday, February 2, 2008

My Mother's Final Quilt

My Mother's last quilt - the one she was working on at the time of her unexpected death.

Mother's final creation is finally nearing completion after a long delay. After Daddy died in 1983, Mother spent much time traveling to see her four daughters and grandchildren. Never one to sit idle, she wanted a take-along project.

Using the technique outlined in Georgia Bonesteel's Lap Quilting book, Mother had the inspiration she needed. She and I spent a lovely day choosing block patterns whose names held special meaning for a midwestern farm family: farmer's daughter, goose in the pond, windmill, hole in the barn door, flying geese, overall boy, sunbonnet Sue, wedding ring, a little house and others. I drafted the patterns, using Jinny Beyer's fabulous Patchwork Patterns book, so that all the blocks, whether 9-patch or 4-patch, would be the same size.

Mother had completed 15 blocks when we lost her. When her possessions were being divided amongst the four of us, my younger sister Sue chose Mother's unfinished handiwork and with tears in her eyes, asked me if I would finish it for her.

When I agreed to complete Mother's quilt, I had no idea how difficult it would be; not physically, but emotionally. From time to time I would pull it out, collapse with sorrow, and put it away again. It was a long time before I began to pull myself up. I then found working on Mother's quilt a comfort and a joy.

I took great care in choosing additional blocks to make, such as ducks and ducklings, anvil, and a nosegay which looked like an ice cream cone. After all, that was the favorite dessert in our house and we had it every single night!

The body of the quilt was finally finished last year. But there was not enough fabric for borders - and these fabrics were old enough to be considered vintage! I searched everywhere, even eBay, but to no avail.

Early 1980's fabrics Mother chose are shown in this detail. How many of them did you have?

I had nearly enough of these two fabrics for borders, but needed one more
in order to complete the 18" drop.

But then - I received a phone call from my baby sister Patty in California. Excitedly, she said, "Ellen - you will never guess where I am!" "Well, probably not. Where are you." "At the Travelodge where two sisters are having a fabric sale. And I think they have all the fabrics Mother used in her quilt!" "No way!" "Way!"

I sent cell-phone photos of some of the fabrics and Patty confirmed that they were indeed the ones needed. Two days later I received a priority box stuffed full with the following:

These fabrics are not just exactly like the ones used in Mother's quilt - they are even the same dye-lot! Who woulda thunk it?

This is the floral I searched for everywhere. I knew somebody had it, because we all used it at one time! I now have nearly 5 1/2 yards at my disposal! Thank you Patty! You are the only one I know who would hear of two sisters selling their mother's fabric stash in a room at the Monterey Travelodge! You go girl!

Patty's blog: http://pattycramer.blogspot.com

Additional note: I failed to mention another unusual aspect of this whole fabric saga. Mother lived in tiny Leland IL and purchased every bit of the fabrics used from Wanda who owned a quilt shop nearby at that time. I later met Wanda, who is a talented and prolific quilter, at QSDS. Check the comment she just left. And be sure to check her blog!


Drewe Llyn said...

What a God-send! So glad He smiled on you with this treasure. Have a blessed day!

Exuberant Color said...

Would she have purchased any of that at my shop? I still have quite a bit of browns, rusts and beiges left however I just sold a big batch to someone at $2 a yd too.

Ellen Guerrant said...

Hi Wanda - Yes, Mother did purchase her fabrics from you. I'd meant to tell everyone so have just updated my entry. Thanks for your note. Wish I'd been to your sale! Ellen.

Misc. Muse said...

Your quilts are beautiful. I really enjoy your blog.

Ellen Guerrant said...

Thanks for your nice comments, misc muse. Tomorrow I plan to add borders to my Mother's quilt. Ellen.

Lisa said...

Loved this story about the fabric. Isn't amazing how God cares about everything that we care about, even things that seem so small at the time? Oh, and remember, you did not "lose" your mother....you know right where she is!!! :)