by Judy Moore Pullen
Each of us has stories that are well worth sharing with others. There seems to be something almost magical about sharing those stories when sitting around a quilt with friends, either hand quilting or working together to complete the hand stitching of the binding.
A few weeks ago, three good friends helped arrange tables so that we could lay out a large quilt to complete it in preparation for the joy of presenting the quilt to a dear friend who had retired at the end of December. When we initially heard about the upcoming retirement, our little team of quilters mourned for a while, then we gathered our wits together and decided to make a quilt for friends to sign and present at a “Celebration” party for the retiree. What a joy the planning process turned out to be. One of our teammates suggested making a rail fence using batiks with colors ranging from lights to darks. The light strips could be where friends signed and wrote notes or memories. Kind of like “fishes and loaves.” When our team perused our stashes, we discovered that we had plenty of fabrics except for the dark strips, which required a trip to a quilt shop. Then we divided the fabrics, shared directions for cutting and stitching, and conquered by making blocks. A couple of teammates sewed blocks into rows, and rows into the top. Another teammate cut and stitched an inner border, and still another added the outer border.
Next, a dear long arm quilter helped select a lovely design of birds and butterflies that enhanced the top and turned the back into a beautiful fluttery design. The binding was machine stitched on the top, then four of us gathered around four tables to spend a wonderful morning hand stitching the binding on the back. A question like: “When did you begin sewing?” resulted in reaching back into our memory banks, telling about a mother, grandmother, or dear aunt who took us under their wings to teach us the ins and outs of needle and thread. One person began sewing in a 4-H club; another in Home Economics as a freshman in high school. As we hand stitched the binding on that quilt, we shared stories, adding to each other’s’ comments and experiences. There is so much value in sharing a process with others, working together to complete a project.
As the signature memory quilt was presented to our dear friend at her “Celebration” party, we shared in her joy as she read the signatures, best wishes, and memories. We also realized that we shared something of ourselves: perhaps a better understanding and appreciation of each other.