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Quilting Party

Quilting Party

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 I didn’t know how many would come to my quilting party but I knew, however many or few, we’d have a good time. I invited women I know and love, some of whom are excellent quilters, some just learning, one who decided to work on her own creative crocheting project. There were four of us at the quilting frame, two on each side, with others coming and going, sharing a story, a laugh, and some heartening hugs.

It was a glorious beautiful morning outside and, because of my quilting friend Sally and her husband Wes, we had the quilt on a nice frame and a light that is perfect for quilting. It was a great morning for quilting on my nine-patch quilt I named “Sunny Afternoon.” The name is right for all the bright colors, the hummingbirds, butterflies, flowers and blueberries.

During hard times in our country’s history women quilted. They quilted to keep their families warm. They quilted using whatever resources they had, remnants of torn or outgrown garments, flour sacking and unbleached muslin. They quilted so all their blankets could go to keep their soldiers warm. In more affluent times and with new exciting fabrics they became extravagantly creative. In leaner times they made do with what they had. They quilted alone in their rural separateness. But sometimes they had a quilting party or quilting bee. Getting together to quilt they could actually finish several quilts in one day and everyone enjoyed it.

Women today don’t need to quilt. We can buy handmade quilts from China for far less than it costs to make them ourselves. We don’t need quilts as door hangings as pioneer women did. We don’t even have time to quilt. Working women are scattered every day to highly intense jobs, and when a busy homemaker gets home she and her spouse have hungry children, and then there are ball games, PTO meetings, and the list goes on.

But, yes, women do need to quilt. They need it for their own emotional health, for spiritual wellbeing, for connecting with the past, the future, and themselves. They need it for the sense of accomplishment it gives. They need it for passing on to their daughters a skill of the past and for teaching them to be resourceful, for our future may very well require that.

And, yes, quilting now is a very popular craft for women and for men. There is such a satisfaction and joy in making something beautiful even if, as in my case, the squares are not square and the seams keep dashing away from straight!

The word “quilt” comes from the Latin word “culcita” which means stuffed sack. It is a cloth sandwich with a decorated top layer (whether pieced fabric, appliquéd work, or a whole fabric with intricately stitched design), a soft filler (one hundred years ago the filler was dense, heavy cotton, but now is light and easy to stitch through), and the backing which also showcases the hundreds of stitches made on the topside.

I wondered if new quilters, or some who hadn’t quilted since forever, would grow quickly discouraged at a quilting party and remember something else they needed to do. I made a crock pot of soup, muffins, and brownies before they came so the house would smell so good they’d have to stay for lunch. And they did.

I also planned that we’d take turns being readers, read good wholesome shorts from Guideposts, maybe some poetry of Sidney Lanier, and our favorite Bible passages. There was no need for that plan! The chatter amongst us was all the entertainment we needed. Juanita, who is a veteran quilter, told us about some of her quilting successes and errors (we love to know that someone so good can make a mistake!). Annette helped us remember quilters in our church who now are in heaven and that brought on some interesting discussion on what may be happening in heaven. Sue, who had never quilted before, got so excited when she could see she’d stitched three three-inch blocks, we all had a good laugh. And when I sewed my finger to the quilt all I could hear other than giggles was “Don’t bleed on it!” Juanita kindly helped me cut free.

The moment-by-moment comments of quilters range from “All right! There went the knot popping in” to “Who had the thread last?” to “If I hurry, I can get to the end of this block before the thread runs out.” There are the peaceful murmury sounds of a long thread winging through fabric, of knots popping in, of the quilting frame creaking and giving to the quilters’ movements.

We talked about prayer needs. There were several heavy ones just amongst the few of us. We avoided politics this crazy election year but talked gleefully about our grandchildren, new folks in our community, how many bricks are going to be visible on the sidewalks when Cairo’s renovated town center is complete. We even talked about football. Sue lives near the high school stadium; Annette is an avid fan as am I.

Lunch was fun. My husband came home, helped serve iced tea, and, as usual, kept everyone enthralled with one of his animal stories from a morning’s work. Was that the day they put a 500 pound sow on a surgical table designed for dogs? And Dr. Kidd, a neat little lady veterinarian, stood up on a stool to get the right surgical perspective.

When my friends started to go, I gave them each one of my books, an author’s prerogative, and reminded them to take their thimbles, souvenirs of our quilting party. And we formed a circle around the quilt and prayed for those prayer needs, especially for Sally recovering from a fall and about to have surgery.

Titus 2:3 says this about women and I think it applies to all the wonderful quilters in my background including my mother and to present quilters, discounting, of course, the “a” word: “The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;”

They all said they’d come back. And that’s really good because my quilt is not nearly finished.

Below is a picture of my dear granddaughter Amanda who helps me “blog” my pictures. I insisted she make stitches too! Charli was very patient and curious.

If you’ve had fun giving a quilting party, or just quilting, why not make a comment below?

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Quilting With Pauline

Making nine-patch blocks, matching corners of 4 1/2″ squares, I feel as if Pauline is looking over my shoulder giggling now and then at my mistakes and my successes. I can hear her making quiet suggestions about which squares would fit best where, exclaiming over the rich colors, the darks and lights, the prints and solids. She’s in heaven now but she and I shared a rare friendship for quite a few years and she made a huge impact on my life. She was a joyful quilter, for certain. But she was a lot more than that.

I first met Pauline when she kept our church’s nursery. I was a young mother then and she in her early fifties. She was quite enthusiastic about my little boy and that endeared me to her immediately of course. As I learned that she and her husband had never had children, I felt a deep grief for her because, to me, having no children would be truly awful. I learned more. Pauline’s husband had died and she’d left her country home to move into town. She lived in a small brick house right across the street from our church. As I observed her week by week taking such interest in our little toddlers, her blue eyes a-twinkle as she talked of Jesus, I felt very blessed to have her and her c0-worker Miss Mamie take care of William.

One day in Belk’s as I was choosing clothes for William and his newly adopted sister, I heard a familiar voice. There was Pauline working as a clerk. It turned out, she was a very competent buyer for Belk’s so was out of town every so often on purchasing trips. But when she was there, it was such fun to have her help me shop. She always knew about the cutest outfits and the best buys. I needed flowers to send to a grieving family and stopped in at Annell’s Florist. There was Pauline arranging roses. She smiled and said, yes, she filled in sometimes because, after all, she lived next door.

When Pauline moved to the south side of town she acquired an entire closed-in carport for her sewing, a huge table for quilting and other projects, lots of cabinets and counters. I lived a short distance away and could walk to her house. She loved for me to come see every blooming flower, every shrub in her modest yard, as well as her latest sewing accomplish-ment. I’d take her soup or a loaf of bread and she’d give me a cutting from a rose bush, a new apron or pillow.

Pauline helped me immeasurably with a quilting project of my own once (that’s another story) and, after that, with my children grown and fewer demands at home, I was able to help Pauline sometimes with her quilting. I think I was never much real substantial help but she enjoyed having someone to talk to while she worked. She taught me how to hand stitch along seams making as small a stitch as possible and, as we worked, she’d tell me some amazing stories.

Like the time she was passionately set on giving to Billy Graham’s European Crusade. But she had no money. She talked to the Lord about it and told Him her desires. She was sewing drapes at that time but had only small orders, barely paying her bills. Shortly after she prayed about her desire to help Billy Graham, she got a call from our regional hospital. They had added a wing and wanted her to do the drapes, an answer only the Lord could have supplied her, she said with that exultant smile of hers, her pale blue eyes glistening.

She told me about her trip to the Holy Land, not only the miracle of how she was able to go, but about what happened there. She was standing outside Jesus’ empty tomb with her group when it started sprinkling rain. Holding her umbrella, her purse under her arm, she suddenly wasn’t there any longer.With an intense glow of joy on her finely wrinkled face, she told me that she felt a strong shudder as there’d been a big clap of thunder and then, instead of standing in the rain, she was sitting on Jesus’ knees. In heaven. “I could feel the bones in His legs,” she said. She asked Him if she could stay and He told her Oh, no, that she had more to do on earth yet and she’d have to go back. But He assured her that when her work was done, she could come back to Him. In a twinkling she was again standing in the rain holding to her umbrella. Nothing had change. Except for Pauline.

When she returned from that trip Pauline began sewing feverishly. She’d call me and ask the sizes of my little grandchildren. “I’m going to make them some pajamas,” she’d say. When I’d go to her house she’d give me lapsize quilts or ask me how to send garments to the orphanages our church gives to. She was driven to sew, dawn to dark. She explained one day that she believed if she sewed up the stacks of fabrics she had until they were all gone, then Jesus would let her come home.

Though I didn’t want her to leave, I did help her when I could. And in those years she sewed tons of children’s garments, pillows and throws, smocks for the elderly, and quilts, quilts, quilts.

When Pauline died, there were still stacks of fabric in her house. I guess God didn’t require she sew every last piece. But she left with a certain hope and joy that’s invaded my very thinking all these years. And now as I make this quilt I can just see her smiling and encouraging me, her shoulders shaking with anticipation like a kid about to lick an ice cream. I’m blessed with other wonderful, joyful quilting friends and sisters. But I think Pauline, next to my mother, may have taught me the most as she stitched and prayed and told her stories.

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