Do everything in love. –1 Corinthians 16:14 (NIV)
In the 1970s, I became interested in old things, mostly due to a neighbor’s living room being beautifully furnished with old things. Some were valuable antiques and some were simply aged pieces Betty found interesting. I was fascinated with her finds and found them more appealing than new-from-the-store decor.
I caught the love for vintage and Daddy, taking note of my excitement, began looking for things to gift me. There was an old oak rocker purchased originally from a Sears catalog, a faux Chippendale coffee table from L&M Tea Company, and the quilt you see pictured.
Actually, Daddy found, or was given, the quilt top and then paid someone to quilt it. Mother shook her head in bewilderment that Daddy spent money to have it completed. She didn’t think it was a very pretty piece and it was not in good shape. It was certainly not a fine quilt top like she and her mother, my grandmother, had done in their early years. I saw all she said but I loved that my dad wanted to do this for me and accepted it with much appreciation. 1 Peter 4:8, simply put in the NLT, says the most important thing of all is to love each other deeply. This was a demonstration of Daddy’s love and I would receive it as a demonstration of mine.
For years, the quilt remained folded and stored, never used. It was too small for my bed but I could never part with it because it was a gift Daddy had taken such pleasure in giving me.
One cold night recently, I pulled the quilt out of storage, ran it through the washer and dryer, and put it on my bed. It didn’t quite meet the sides of my bed but layered between a sheet and comforter, it held in place. It felt so good to lie beneath its warmth and remember how I came to have it.
I wondered who the women were who put the quilt together — the one who pieced the top and the one who later did the quilting. I especially thought about the one who put the pieces together, thinking she would have used whatever fabric scraps available, maybe even some passed on by friends and family. I have had the quilt for almost 50 years and the top showed a lot of age when Daddy came upon it. I can’t imagine how old it is from its beginning.
When I married in 1962, my grandmother gave me a beautiful Double Wedding Ring quilt. Oh, how I wish I still had it, but it was lost along the way. The stitching in that quilt was so fine and delicate. I don’t know how many hands were involved in the quilting, but I’m sure Mama pieced it all by herself.
My favorite of the old quilt designs was Little Dutch Girl. I was fascinated by the girls in profile with their calico bonnets and dresses. I slept under one of those growing up that my mother made. Some quilters called the pattern Sunbonnet Sue.
I have my baby quilt that my Mother embroidered and quilted. Twelve little animals play across its top, each one different. It first snuggled me, then each of my brothers, and finally my own daughter. It’s close to 80 years old and though the edges are frayed from many washings, I don’t find a single missing or broken stitch. I find that amazing. For Mother’s handwork to hold up for 80 years reminds me of Colossians 3:23 that says Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord (NIV).
In the days of quilting by my grandmother and mother, quilting frames were quite large and usually dropped from the ceiling. Then all who could come and help would sit around the frame and delicately lay stitches, piercing through the top piece, batting, and under piece, then returning from the bottom. They shared their labor and turned out creative works of art. The work of their hands provided warm beds for their families. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands (NLT). That verse well describes the women of an earlier era who labored long and hard over what was before them to do. It was the life my mother and grandmother lived.
Quilting still happens, but the stitching today is done by sewing machines. Quilters often have machines just dedicated to quilting. The artistry is through the colors and designs and precision. To hear my friend Bonny talk about all that goes into her quilts is a delightful experience. You hear the love of the design, the challenge of selecting the fabrics that fit the person, and her anticipation of the recipient’s response. Bonny made me a lap quilt years ago. She said she chose colors that reflected my personality.
Quilting was and still is an artistic labor of love. And I’ve been a grateful recipient for a lifetime.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. –1 Peter 4:10 (NASB)