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The Power of Quilts

You don’t have to be a longtime quilter to understand the power of quilts. A quilt is much more than fabric joined together. It can be an expression of love, sympathy, joy, hope or caring. Just as the quilt can be all of these things, so can the process itself. Just joining two little pieces of fabric together can mean so much more than it appears. I was reminded of this by way some emails we recently received.

Carol quilts
Carol and her Mariners Compass quilt

Amanda in Michigan contacted us recently. She and her friend Merry have joined us on the Quilters Quest Bus Trip. Last year, Amanda brought her Aunt Barbara and mom, Carol. On the Quest, Carol bought fabric to make a Mariners Compass she wanted to auction off at the national reunion of submarine vets (her husband is one) that is happening in Pittsburgh in September.  Before she could start the project, she had a massive stroke and was hospitalized in a rehab facility for three months.  She has limited use of her right side and speech is difficult and not always understandable. Carol insisted that the quilt still be made and, with the help of Barbara and Amanda, it was completed. This was Carol’s first goal and now she has another she’s working towards – to ride our Quilters’ Quest bus again in November.

After having to give up crafts he loved due to arthritis, David is thrilled to be able to hand piece.
After having to give up crafts he loved due to arthritis, David is thrilled
to be able to hand piece.

David from Sydney, Australia, has an enthusiasm which can’t be matched. He is a brand new quilter who only started quilting in November last year. He had done dyeing, handspinning, knitting, and weaving all his life but arthritis forced him to stop knitting altogether and to cut back on spinning and weaving. His doctor suggested trying other things that use different movements to keep my hands agile. Sad when he thought he’d have to give up crafting forever, quilting has given him something to get excited about and something to aim for. He is currently working on Golden Album, Carnival and Columbia. David writes: “Quilting has taken over my crafting world! I love the idea that if I can draft it, I can make templates, and turn it into a quilt! The possibilities just astound me.”

Suzie found comfort in the simple act of sewing small fabric squares together.
Suzie found comfort in the simple act of sewing small fabric squares

Quilting gives us something to strive for, it brings us joy and it can also comfort. One of our local customers, Suzie, lost her son, Johnny, when he was only 31. After his death, quilting comforted her. She chose to make of quilt of simple squares remembering a quilt she made while caring for Johnny when he broke his leg a year earlier and how they enjoyed the time they spent together. While others worried that she was locking herself away, Suzie says, simply, that the process was comforting to her.

Cathedral Window
I felt the same way after the attacks of September 11, 2001. My Windows quilt served as therapy for me in the days which followed.

There is a wonderful exhibit taking place through July 26 in nearby Herndon, Virginia, called Sacred Threads. It was created to share the experiences of quilters whose stories would be a source of healing and strength. Here is one just one example of the quilts in the exhibit and the story behind it.

Just use the info in the blog for the caption.  Image 4 can be the stock one of Windows.

“I remember the first time I met my future sister-in-law, Annie. She was working in a residential facility. As she turned down a hallway, an elderly resident abruptly bellowed out, ‘Hey Annie! Give us a jig!’ Suddenly, this tiny, energetic woman with bouncy red curls joyously pranced and danced as laughter ensued.

“Annie was diagnosed with terminal multiple myeloma cancer in September, 2014. How do you live life knowing you are facing certain death? In Annie fashion, she recently donned my daughter’s tutu and jigged. With this quilt, I honor her spirit. Grieving, smiling, remembering, I attach that silly little tutu!”

Our lives are often incredibly busy and often this craziness translates to our quilting. While there is nothing wrong with quick quilts and timesaving methods, I hope you take the time to enjoy the process and the challenge, comfort, reminiscing, or pure joy you can derive from it.

9 thoughts on “The Power of Quilts

  1. People often ask, “How long did it take you to make it ?” Quilts do not have to be measured by time, but by the satisfaction and happiness they bring to the maker and to the receiver.

  2. What a wonderful post. The healing power of art, be it fabric arts or any other medium, is incredible! I am reminded of a luncheon speaker that we had who shared her quilts with us – her expression as she dealt with ovarian cancer. What an inspiration to all of us.

  3. Beautiful post! Thank you!!

  4. Wow, I quilt because I have to, need to. I have always believed part of life means to create. My mother, grandmother, and great grandmother were creators. Artists. I taught myself how to quilt and strive to learn more all the time. It is my passion and I will carry on, every quilt finds a home and the person to whom it belongs!

  5. This is all so true. I started quilting when my son moved to another state to take a job after college graduation and marriage. I missed him so much. So, I decided to make him and his new wife a quilt. Each day I worked on their quilt and each day I felt that I was still being “mom” although in a different way. It helped me bridge the miles between us. I have since moved only 30 minutes away and life is good.

    During these six years (since that first quilt) I have developed a love for quilting. I quilt almost everyday. Currently I am making a quilt for my aunt who is recuperating from a fall. I do not concern myself with the speed at which I quilt nor the number of quilts I produce. Quilting is all about making something beautiful for beautiful people. And in that process I also refresh my own sense of joy.

  6. Thank you for these stories and the reminder of the meaning our quilts can hold.

  7. This was an incredibly moving and touching article. I marvel at the spirit and inspiration shown by all of these quilters. I think there should be an online forum just for them and others who might enjoy the virtual comfort provided by such a group of like-minded quilters. Keep up the beautiful work everyone!

  8. What a powerful uplifting message all these quilts and their stories provide. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

  9. Such beautiful stories! I’m sure Annie’s spirit lives on in the memories of all who knew her.

    Quilting was the comfort I found, too, after losing our 22 y/o son to suicide. Our other 3 sons and their wives now each have a king sized quilt with a special poem for the label. I know they love them and I’m sure they’ll help my memory and spirit live on after I’m gone, too.

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