Where were you and what were you doing 22 years ago? When you start a project today, do you think to yourself “I wonder where I will be in 22 years when I finally finish this?”
This quilt is a product of 22 years of memories that were begun way before then and will continue to remain well into the future for my family to come. I started this quilt in 1998 when my husband and I were traveling, selling our products and teaching at quilt shows throughout the country. Our company was called “Pieces of the Past.”
One of our best selling products at the time was the Quilt Lap Hoop. My mother and step-father helped us make our inventory for the shows in the beginning, before virtually taking over that manufacturing part after the turn of the century when we became too busy and were selling too many to keep up with demand.
It was clear from the beginning that demonstrating how the Quilt Lap Hoop worked in the booth was essential and I quickly grew tired of hand quilting small samples that would eventually be tossed aside. So, I sat down and designed this quilt for my mother, initially as a way to demonstrate the hand quilting process at the shows and as a way to say thank. you to my mother for all the tireless work she did for us through those years.
My mother not only helped to assemble the inventory, she always made sure we had a hot dinner waiting for us after each show they could attend with us. Working the shows is totally exhausting and when the show closes for the day, you just want to totally collapse and do nothing.
We traveled in our motorhomes to each show and they tried to make it to as many as possible to help us in the booth and with inventory restocking, etc. There really is no way I could ever thank them for the total support they gave us, both physical and through believing in us over those years. My thought was that, eventually, I would be able to finish this quilt by working on it at the shows, in the booth and at classes I taught. Then, I would be able to give her a memory, of our time together and of her life before our crazy travelling work began. (That will make sense once you see the photos, below)
Time passes, life happens, and we are all getting older. Beginning in 2002, gasoline began to skyrocket in price and it soon became clear that we were not going to be able to afford the fuel to continue to cross the country to do the shows for much longer. Even the major shows; Houston, Paducah, and Road to California were not going to be enough to sustain our vending life any longer, so we were forced to make some changes.
Over the next few years, we transitioned out of vending and built a house in Auburn, AL, where we began to run our online only business. We did this for many years beyond and, because there was no real need to demonstrate the hand quilting process one on one any longer, the quilt was put away to be finished at a later time. I worked on it from time to time, but not being in constant contact with my mother made it easier to put it aside and work on other things. Unfortunately, in April of 2008, mother passed away.
I regretted not completing the quilt for her, as I know she had looked forward to having it with her in those last few years. After her passing, it became much more difficult to pick it up and work on it, understandably. Finally, after the ridiculous year we have had in 2020, I decided that I needed to make it a happy reminder of my time with her and so I pulled it out again, determined to finish it.
Hand quilting is not really something that I do a lot of anymore, since procuring a longarm machine. So after looking it over, I decided to do the final outer border (that was all that was left to quilt…sigh) on the longarm. Morticia did a beautiful job on the borders and I finished the binding just before New Year’s Eve. Good bye 2020 and all the sadness!
Now for the quilt info. I designed the quilt top on graph paper (this was pre Electric Quilt…LOL) and dove right in. Since this quilt was going to be so very large, it is a king, I decided to use the back as a memory album for photos of mother’s family, old and new. There are lots of photos of me from 0-25 years and many of mother and her parents and siblings. When I designed it, putting photos on fabric for quilts was brand new and was all the rage, so were Baltimore Album quilts.
The entire quilt was done by hand, except for the final border. All the applique is either self designed, or block patterns from one of Elly Sienkiewicz’s books.
I know this was a long post, but it was an important one to me. I still think about my mother every day and through this quilt I have been able to make peace with her passing and have some beautiful memories of her to hold on to. Hug someone you love, or at least Zoom with them. Until next time… ~D
Well, I am a bit teary eyed right now. What a beautiful story & tribute to your mother. The quilt is amazing. I must go somewhere quiet right now & absorb!! Thank you. Joanna
Oh my! Such a stunning quilt! The memories made with your Mom will forever be shown in the beauty of your quilt.