The classic Depression-era quilting tale always touches on how nothing was wasted – every scrap of fabric was used by thrifty seamstresses determined to grimly “make do” with what they had.
That description always seems so sad to me. Scrappy quilts are happy quilts! They are every voice singing in perfect harmony. Every person doing their part to make the world a better place. Every piece coming together to make a larger whole.
When I had leftover fabric from Beth M.’s recently completed 1930s Irish Chain quilt, I didn’t just want her thank you gift to “make do”.
I wanted the gift to make her smile.
It took a LOT of time to piece all those little blocks together, quilt them and hand embroider the names on the stocking cuffs. As it is, she had her custom quilt for nearly a month before the stockings were ready to ship!
But they were so worth it. I can’t help but imagine Beth, her children – and Santa! – all smiling when they see these scrappy, happy stockings.
I once read an article about “divorce quilts”, textile art projects made to help process the difficult decision to end a marriage. I can definitely see the therapeutic value, but I like what customer Beth M. had in mind much better… she asked me to make a quilt celebrating the start of her and her children’s new life.
The overall design of her quilt is vintage 1930s, a postage stamp Irish Chain design on a white background (all the squares are reproduction 1930s fabrics.) Appliqués appear in the areas formed by the chain, each turned under and hand embroidered with a blanket stitch – again, an old-fashioned, classic technique.
In a way, the design builds on history to create a new future. That feeling is echoed in her choice of appliqué ideas. There are blocks that represent heritage – a shamrock for Ireland, a thistle for Scotland – and blocks that represent now – a beloved family pet and shared activities like movie watching. Every single element in this quilt is meaningful and all are designed to symbolize the foundation on which she and her children will create their new life.
When Beth and her children curl up in this quilt, it’s not just their bodies being warmed, it’s their hearts, too. This is why I make quilts. I want to create beautiful, thoughtful, treasured keepsakes that touch people deeply. Laugh, cry, reminisce and dream about your bright, new future ~ a good quilt should encourage all that and more.