Letters to the Editor: Quilt Memories

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The author’s first quilt, made with a small quilt top she found in her deceased mother’s belongings. Photo courtesy Janette.

Learning to Quilt

By Janette, via email

My mother quilted a lot when I was young, and my two older siblings were blessed with learning the craft from her as she participated in quilting bees with our neighbors, relatives, and friends. Some of her quilts were auctioned off at school fundraisers, and she made a quilt for each of us girls.

I remember watching her so gracefully poke the needle up and down in small stitches, gathering all three layers on her roller frame. I tried it, but at 4 or 5 years old, I couldn’t quite go through all the layers.

In the mid-1980s, my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and within a year, the Lord called her home. I was 6 years old.

I’d always had a desire to sew, and all of my mom’s sewing tools, as well as her quilt frame and other items, were in my possession, stored in a cedar chest. And although I had a great longing for my mom to teach me this skill, it wasn’t possible, so I knew I’d have to figure out a different way to learn.

So, I volunteered to teach art at my boys’ school, deciding to have each student make a quilt square, which I would piece together. The finished quilt would be donated to a benefit auction. Having never pieced together a quilt, I asked God if this was His will for a practice quilt.

When Christmas rolled around, I decided to hide the kids’ gifts in the cedar chest, and when I opened the lid, I found a large piece of material in a plastic bag. When I unfolded it, it was as though God was saying, “Here’s your practice quilt.” It was a small quilt top made of polyester that my mom never got around to finishing.

I put it together, and my youngest son helped me tie it. It was a special, healing journey I know I couldn’t have made happen on my own.

I’ve come to realize that healing is like a quilt. It takes patience, perseverance, and prayer. This quilt has become so much more to me than just squares and strings.