Patchwork quilts honor memory of sister

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SNAIL’S TRAIL: Ingram followed a pattern called “Snail’s Trail” to create this gift.
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MEANINGFUL CRAFTS: Gay Ingram, of Big Sandy, Texas, honored her late sister by crafting miniature quilts with material her sister once owned.
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A QUILT OF ONE’S OWN: The last quilt Ingram created was one for herself. Each Christmas, it reminds her of those she loves – those on earth and those who have gone ahead.
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GIFT OF MEMORIES: Each miniature quilt was sent to a surviving sister at Christmastime with a note.

The appeal of making patchwork quilts is that you find yourself crafting with your soul. Woven into every quilt we make are bits of imagination, history and memories. One of my most rewarding projects was a collection of miniature quilts that had a special tie with my family.

Even the material used had special significance. I had the privilege of caring for my youngest sister during her last few months, before she died of a brain tumor. We worked together, tying up the loose strands of life’s business. An avid crafter, my sister gave me permission to pack up anything I wanted to take home with me.

When I returned home, I gave some thought to what I’d like to do with my newly acquired supply. I wanted some task that would commemorate my sister’s passing and help ease the grief of her loss. I decided to use the material to construct miniature quilts for my three remaining sisters and myself. Because we all lived in different states, these quilts would be a way to remember one another and the sister who was no longer with us. I decided to make them using my sister’s accumulation of Christmas prints.

Getting started

I am a novice quilter, so, my first attempt was a basic nine-patch quilt that went to my sister in Connecticut.

My next project followed a pattern called the “Snail’s Trail.” I knew the intricacy of the pattern would be appreciated by another of my sisters, who also loved to sew. This quilt challenged my skills, but after a few false starts, I was satisfied with the results.

By now, creating quilts was taking up an increasing part of my life. Several patterns appealed to me for a quilt to go to my sister in Arizona, and I couldn’t decide which to do. I solved the problem by making my next quilt a sampler. I made individual blocks of each of the patterns and put them together in a single quilt.

The following Christmas, each quilt was lovingly packaged with a note and mailed. Not until a year later did I find time to make a last quilt – my own. Each time the Christmas season comes around, I take it out and display it. It reminds me of growing up as part of a loving family, and causes my thoughts to dwell on those I love – those here on earth and those who have gone ahead.