The Story of a Quilt
Quilts fascinate me. It’s as though there is something almost magical sewn into them, stitch by loving stitch…something that goes beyond mere functional warmth. They’re crafted with such love, and every scrap of fabric carries its own personal story deep within its fibers. One of my favorite quilts has had a long and varied history, and was brought to life over a period of several decades by three women whom I love dearly.
This quilt actually began as humble kitchen curtains, stitched together by my maternal grandmother during the late seventies. There are remnants from the mod mini-dresses worn by my mother and aunts, pieces saved from my grandfather’s well-worn work shirts, and scraps from my uncle’s outgrown pajamas. There are even swatches of the fabric that was used to make my mother’s wedding dress.
My grandmother pieced together the patchwork for the curtains, but set them aside before completing them, so they were never hung in her home. Instead, they were passed on to my mother, who finished the curtains, and they hung in our living room through my entire childhood. Every autumn, summer’s light-weight curtains came down from the windows, were washed and packed away for the winter, and these patchwork curtains went up in their place. They kept our home warm and cozy throughout the winter months, and acted as a colorful backdrop to our daily lives.
I remember standing by the windows, searching the panels for my favorite fabric square (an upside-down print of chestnut horses on a green field) and asking my mother to tell me yet again about the story behind one piece of fabric or another as I carefully pointed them out.
One autumn the curtains didn’t go up as usual. Instead, my mother purchased new curtains, deep brown tabbed curtains that looked wonderful in the newly-redecorated living room, but that lacked the history and character of the patchwork curtains. Away at college, I was oblivious to the change until I arrived home for winter break. I missed the familiar curtains, but when questioned my mother remained vague about why she decided to make this sudden, unexpected change.
On Christmas morning my brother, sister and I were handed similar large, soft packages and asked to open them simultaneously. What we discovered inside were twin-sized quilts, each created from two panels of our well-loved patchwork curtains. That autumn, rather than hang them as she had every year, she had asked my Aunt Terri to turn them into quilts for each of us.
I cherish this worn, fading quilt. I cherish the memories interwoven within it’s very fabric, and even more importantly, I cherish the women in my life – -my grandmother, mother, and aunt — who played such vital roles in it’s creation.
: : : : : :