USA by: Charleen DiSante, USA December 28, 2007

Here is the photo of my quilt using the sun template from your Block of the Month earlier this year. The quilt has actually been delivered to the new baby. I finished it!!!

Baby Quilt with Summer Theme


Canada by: Elizabeth Michelin, Labrador, Canada December 3, 2007

I would like to share one of my various quilting stories.
I went to a work meeting on Prince Edward Island Canada and was taken to a fabric outlet store. I was mesmerized, it is so big and so many fabrics ( I live in a tiny community in Labrador Canada).
With help, I picked out 4 fabrics for a Double Irish Chain, but didn't like how the finished quilt would look, so decided to design my own. Here is Suzie's quilt. Now another sister wants one like this too, so I am searching for a striking fabric in browns/golds to attempt a replication.

Suzie's Quilt


USA by: Virginia Farrell, Willow Springs, IL, USA November 1, 2007

See error on left sashing. Sorry, I'm not taking it apart again.

If I had a hair-pulling problem, I would be bald by now. Please, let me back up to March 26 years ago. I made a 9 patch quilt for my soon to be daughter-in-law's wedding shower. It was very simple and very easy to quilt, but then I was 26 year younger.

At their 26th Anniversary time this year, 2007, they visited me. My son informed me that the batting in the quilt I made for them is starting to become thin. He said there are no tears or rips in the fabric, but with the batting thinning, "I can almost see right through it." he said.

Then the request! "Mom, could you please make us another one?". Of course after all that praise of the first one, I quickly said yes. I also was informed that they now had a queen-sized bed. With great consternation, I started collecting fabric that would suit them, and then had them look at it and pick what they wanted. Then the problems started. Cutting the squares and sashing was simple, as a quilter would know. Pieces the blocks posed no problem. Then came the assembly. Got it all done and looked at it. What a mess! I had mistakenly cut some of the sashes wider than others; just a quarter of an inch mind you. But that quarter of an inch sure played havoc with my pattern. So what did I do? I took it all part block by block trimmed the sashes and started over to assemble the quilt. It came out okay, just a tiny bit off in some places.

Next came putting it into the frame. My frame is for a double bed sized quilt. I though I could be smart and fold over the access, quilt the middle and so on to a finish. Wrong! As the roll on the ends got bigger, also the sag on the middle part of the quilt got bigger.

I ended up cutting (actually removed stitches) in half so I could quilt normally. Well, it is almost half quilted. Really looking forward to the last day of quilting this monstrosity.

Having pieced and quilted many quilts, (I'm almost 80 years old) I have never in my life of quilting been so frustrated. I just pray it will last them their rest of their married life.

9 Patch Quilt


Canada by: Marian Wersh, Walkerton, ON, Canada October 4, 2007

I would like to tell you about our Quilt Guild in Walkerton, Ontario.

We made 75 Quilts for Project Linus from February to May. Many were the Linus patterns but there were many others as well, fleece blankets, tied comforters and larger sizes. Beth Bell from the Kitchener Chapter came to a meeting to accept them.

Walkerton Quilt Guild


Australia by: Sue Ferns, Lennox Head, Australia October 1, 2007

Quilting has been a part of my life for 25 years and I was fortunate to have been taught by Judy Hooworth a leading Australian quiltmaker when we both lived in Terrey Hills a suburb of Sydney, Australia. I now live 800 Km north of Sydney at Lennox Head a beautiful beach village located on the east coast of New South Wales very near Byron Bay the most easterly point on the Australian coast.

Judy ran a workshop up this way based on her Razzle Dazzle Quilts Books. Judy's book was published by That Patchwork Place in 2001. Our Italian Spring is the result of this workshop. The quilt was made for my husband's brother and his wife as a 25th Wedding Anniversary present. We had travelled to Italy, Switzerland and Japan in the spring of 2006, most of our time being spent in Italy. I used a combination of Australian, Japanese, floral and plain fabric. The boarder fabric is an Australian design to represent where we had come from, the Japanese print to represent the flowering blossoms in Japan and the floral and plains to represent fields and flowers in the Tuscan and Umbrian countryside and villages. Also to me some of the Japanese fabric represents the architecture, the bridges and churches of the both Japan and Italy. I machine quilted very simply in-the-ditch and drew pencils lines corner to corner to follow for quilting as I wanted the fabric to be the main focus of the quilt.

Our Italian Spring

Our Italian Spring

Jack's Quilt was made for my great nephew. When my niece told me she was pregnant of course I had to make a quilt for the baby. She didn't know if she was having a boy or girl and just asked for the quilt to be bright and bold. I bonded the stars to background squares, blanket stitched the star edges and as you can see added a boarder to each square in the same colour as the star. That was the easy part, trying to find a background material for the rails and main boarders, was the difficult part. Jack was born in June 2006, so at least knowing the sex of the baby helped with the colour choice for the background fabric. I found the mottled blue/pink/purple material in the very last shop I visited, it reminded me of a sunset sky. I machine quilted in-the-ditch around each of the star motif and squares, then quilted stars in the rails, corner stones and boarder joining them with freehand quilting of swirls and curves which I imagined to be vapour trails of the stars.

Jack's Quilt

Jack's Quilt

I have made another five quilts for each of my grandchildren using a similar layout but with different patterns in the main squares. My niece has just announced she is expecting another baby next April, so I am presently planning the next quilt.

Daniel's Quilt

Daniel's Quilt


USA by: Mary Maguire, Charlton City, MA, USA September 22, 2007

My guild Cornerstone Quilters offered a challenge this year, "Creativity Through Color." Each participant pulled 2 crayons from a bag and was challenged to create a quilt (24" - 36") using ONLY those colors and shades of those colors (black and white do count as colors). If necessary ONE and only one additional color could be used to complete the challenge.

My colors were green and yellow-green, which made me think of spring and new growth. I saw the "Spring Quilt" design from Yvonne's Quilt & Patchwork, that I found through your site, and knew it was perfect for the challenge.

Everyone who participated and completed the challenge had their project displayed at our guild's very first quilt show this summer.


Canada by: Connie Barbie, South Mountain, ON, Canada September 5, 2007

I live in South Mountain, Ontario; 20 mins from Ottawa, Canada. This is my very first quilt I have every made and the first time with a sewing machine. I worked through it on my own and what a treat I had some day's, I tell you. I would love to make more but I am still real green behind the horns and want to learn so much more about this craft.

Nine Patch

Nine Patch Quilt


USA by: Eileen Russo, Sebago, ME, USA August 2, 2007

I belong to a small quilt group in Sebago, Maine. We donate often to the Linus Project - helping kids in times of distress. Here is 3 rail fences we donated at a blanket day this spring.

Rail Fence Quilts by Sebago Seam Rippers (right to left)
Eileen Russo, Norma Sicotte and Carol Tidd (absent from the picture)

Rail Fence Quilts by Sebago Seam Rippers


South Africa by: Maureen Terblanche, George, South Africa August 2, 2007

I am still quite a novice at all this, but thought I would send you this picture of a quilt I have just sent off to Ireland for our grandson that is on his way (due in September). This is the first quilt I have completed for someone else, and I am very proud of it.

Perhaps some other mum or sister would like to try this idea, it is such a very special gift and we are always looking for new gift ideas.


USA by: Karen Alexander, The Quilters Hall of Fame, Marion, IN USA
July 28, 2007

Helen Kelley Selected for Induction, as 38th Honoree in 2008

July 17-20, 2008

The 2008 inductee is internationally known quiltmaker, author, columnist and teacher Helen Kelley of Minneapolis, MN. Lectures & workshops multiple quilt exhibits and a vendors mall; tours of The Quilters Hall of Fame in the restored Marie Webster. E-mail us for complete details.

The Quilters Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the selection of Helen Kelley of Minneapolis, MN as the 38th Honoree to be inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame, July 2008. Kelley has made her home in Minnesota since 1962. Familiar with a sewing machine since her youth, Kelley taught herself to quilt as an about-to-be bride. In 1972 a story about a family quilt she had made from quilt blocks garnered from friends around the world for her daughter’s wedding was featured in the Minneapolis Tribune. The unexpected news coverage opened opportunities to teach quilting in the Minneapolis community. In 1978 Kelley founded the Minnesota Quilters and served as its founding president, a guild that today numbers over 1500 members. An international teaching career was born. Crisscrossing America, Europe and New Zealand, Kelley soon “spread the gospel of quilting wherever she went”. Today she is the author of seven books and has been a columnist since 1983 with Quilters Newsletter Magazine, the oldest continuously published magazine dedicated to quiltmaking and quilt history. Her book, Every Quilt Tells a Story, is a compilation of her column “Loose Threads” and has been such a success that a second book, Joy of Quilting, followed on its heels.

Among the many honors that Kelley has received throughout her career in quilting and service to her community are: 1995 - Artist of Distinction, Fiber/Metal Arts of Minnesota; 1998 - Minnesota Quilter of the Year; 1999 - Renaissance Quilt was selected by a prestigious national committee of quiltmakers and quilt historians organized by the International Quilt Association as one of the 100 best quilts of the 20th century; 2000 - Minnesota Textile Center’s Spun Gold Award. Kelley continues to lecture, teach, and exhibit her work. A 30-year retrospective of her work will be on exhibit in Marion, Indiana, at The Quilters Hall of Fame during Celebration 2008.

For additional information about The Quilters Hall of Fame's Celebration please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to P.O. Box 681, Marion, IN 46952-0681 or email us at and request that your name be added to our mailing list.


USA by: Karen Alexander, The Quilters Hall of Fame, Marion, IN USA
May 1, 2007

The Quilters Hall of Fame Announces
Creation of Triple Anniversary Signature Quilt

The humble quilt has left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of
America! In 2009 The Quilters Hall of Fame (The QHF) will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its founding; the 5th anniversary of the opening of its headquarters in the restored Marie Webster House in Marion, Indiana; and the 150th birthday of Marie Webster, quilt designer, author, and entrepreneur a triple anniversary!

One of the special events being organized for this triple anniversary is the
making of a celebratory Anniversary Signature Quilt. Georgia Bonesteel (2003 Honoree), host of the UNC Public Television series Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel, is donating fabric scraps from her own famous sewing studio. This quilt will represent a major fund raising effort to help The QHF fulfill its on-going mission. Bonesteel will be present during Celebration 2007 in Marion, Indiana, leading "When Our Grandmothers Were Young ­ The Treadle Challenge" on Thursday July 19th at 10am and 2pm, Friday July 20 at 2pm and again Saturday July 21 at 3pm. This is an opportunity for supporters of The QHF to buy a completed Signature Quilt Block or sit and construct one on a treadle sewing machine along side Georgia Bonesteel working on her Bernina. Come have fun with Georgia and experience first-hand the challenge of a treadle sewing machine -- and make a contribution to The Quilters Hall of Fame at the same time! You don't have to be present to participate! You can purchase a block from home! The completed quilt will be auctioned off during Celebration 2009 as The Quilters Hall of Fame celebrates its triple anniversary. Honoree signatures will be included in the finished quilt!

Quilters across the country are encouraged to support the on-going preservation of the Marie Webster House and the mission of The Quilters Hall of Fame by participating in this Anniversary Signature Quilt Fund Raiser. A minimum donation of $10 to sign a completed block* is requested. (A donation of $50 is suggested for Quilt Guilds or groups.) Completed blocks ready for signing will be available beginning July 2007 and will be sent to you upon receipt of your donation. Instructions for signing and returning the block to the QHF will be sent to you at that time. You may purchase multiple blocks and send them to your friends for signing. Please make your check out to the QHF and mail it, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope, to The QHF, P.O. Box 681, Marion, Indiana, 46952. (More than one quilt may be made and auctioned if enough blocks are sold. Honoree signatures will be included any quilts made and auctioned. Arrangements will be made to mailed-in bids at the time of the auction. Watch our website for updates.)

Purchase a block in The QHF/Marie Webster Anniversary Quilt today and go down in history while you help sustain a wonderful piece of American quilting history ~ The Quilters Hall of Fame in the historic Marie Webster

*($10.00 is the requested minimum donation per block but we would gratefully welcome larger donations!)


USA by: Connie, Oklahoma, USA April 6, 2007

I'm not sure where to begin.
I just wanted to say I want to start Quilting again.

I had a very close Sister. Her name was Vera.
We was very close. She was 12 when I was born and Mom was pretty sick. I was the 7th child and the last. Vera was the 3rd child and took me over and we were together until November 3, 2005 when Vera passed away.

Now I feel so alone, I think I need some friends to help me out. Vera and I took a few quilt classes and she was helping me learn to quilt. She loved to make quilts. She had made so many for her kids and grandkids.

After her death I put everthing away, I wanted to forget, it hurt so bad.
After a while a friend from our church ask me if I got my quilt Vera was making me for Christmas?

I went to my brother-in-law and ask him about it and Joe said yes he knew
Vera was making me one. We went into Vera's craft room and there it was all fixed for me.

I have sleeped under that quilt every night, I can feel my Sister close to
me. Now I want to get my things out and make a quilt in Vera's name.

I have a 6 year old Grandaughter who will be 7 in May. Vera loved her so much and Larimye Grace loved her Aunt Vera. I want to make this quilt for her.

Vera made Little Gracie baby Quilts and clothing each year for her
We have all the things Aunt Vera made her put away.
This will be the 2nd year without her Aunt Vera being at her birthday

Sorry for a long story. I just needed to say this, it makes me feel
good to talk about my Sister Vera.


USA by: Barb Gabriel, Bremerton, WA, USA March 22, 2007

A friend of mine, Marcia, is a 4th grade elementary teacher. She asked me
to come and talk to the class about quilting in the 1800's as they were
doing a unit on the Oregon Trail. I gathered pictures of old sewing
machines, assembled a hand piecing kit (scissors, thread, etc) and
brought some simple quilts I had made as samples. I also brought a
surprise - white fabric ironed to freezer paper and stitched around the
edge - enough for each child in the class. I told Marcia that if each
child would color a picture on the fabric with crayons, I would put them
into a quilt for her.

Several weeks later I went back to retrieve their masterpieces, and
brought lots of strips so each child could pick out a sashing for their
picture. Even though they were all told to draw their picture "portrait"
style, there was one who drew his helicopter "landscape." I told him his
helicopter might have to fly up, but I would see what I could do.

I removed the freezer paper and stitching, pressed each one between
layers of paper towel to melt out the wax, "framed" their pictures with
their chosen fabric, and created the quilt for Marcia. When I presented
it to her class, each child was excited to see their picture, especially
the one with the helicopter flying up. He was so taken with the quilt, I
found him curled up on the part laying on the floor.

Marcia managed to hold off her tears until almost just before I left.


USA by: Melba Rilott, Palm Harbor, FL, USA March 15, 2007

I will be demonstrating, at the Dunedin Florida library, how to quilt a greeting card on National Quilting Day, plus binding quilts for the Bay Area Pregnancy Center in Clearwater, Florida.

Also, I loved the idea of presenting a quilt to the first baby born on that day from a previous group that started it and assume they are still doing it. I will present a baby quilt to the first baby born at Mease Countryside Hospital (which is in Clearwater,Florida, on Saturday. The label also says "Happy St. Patrick's Day"


USA by: Ruth, Rochester, NY, USA February 4, 2007

The baby quilt is finished and it is a Fish Quilt as the mother of the baby bought crib sheets with fish on and I wanted to do a quilt to go with the sheets.
It was the first baby quilt for me to do.

I am also learning thread painting. I have a rose bud I am going to thread paint.
I am doing free motion quilting on the sampler quilt.
I have a block to do for the Quilt Club the fourth Monday of the month.
I'm also sewing siggie blocks together as I was in a siggie block swap.


Australia by: Judy Houghton, Queensland, Australia January 20, 2007

Here is my story about a Double Wedding Ring Quilt that was not meant to be given away.
About the beginning of August 2006 my darling husband, “God bless him”, came home from work with the news that one of his workers was getting married. Funnily the invitation arrived in the mail that same day. Anyway it was suggested that a quilt would be a great present. This gave me less than six weeks to complete the quilt.
The next day I rang the bride’s mother to find out what was the brides favourite colour. I was told that it was Blue so off to the fabric store I went. I purchased all the necessary fabric that was needed. As I was planning to do a Double Wedding Ring quilt using the Quilt as you go method it was not a problem to do that.
On the Saturday I cut out all the necessary pieces and set about doing the quilt. Not one for small quilts I planned on doing a King size quilt. SILLY ME. By Monday I had all the rings sewn to the background circles of fabric so I was ready to start the real work, the quilting of the individual blocks, this is done before you put the blocks together. This went reasonable well.
Then came the call from the bride’s mother. It went something like this, “Judy I am sorry but after speaking to Rose’s, {the bride}, sister, I found out that her favourite colour is RED not BLUE.
After getting over that call I proceeded to complete the quilt. Because there was a lot of marking on the quilt top I decided to wash it in the washing machine and throw it over the clothesline. First off I washed the clothesline I thought very well. It dried in a few hours. During the wash a couple of seams popped so I fixed that while it was still drying. After it was dry I took it off the line only to find out that it had got marked from the line. I cleaned that up as best as I could as the Wedding was the next day.
Next I made up a beautiful fabric covered box to present/store the quilt in. I folded the quilt so that the label was upper most. The label had a picture of the Bride and Groom at the top with their names and the wedding date on it. It looked beautiful even if I do say so myself.
So proud of myself for the way it all looked in the box that I asked my darling husband to come over and have a look before I sealed the box. First off he said that he liked the quilting design within the blocks. He then commented on the box. Lastly he took a good long look at the label. His final comment was, “It is absolutely great but who it PETER”? The grooms name is DAVID.
I had the bright idea of colouring in the two names with a pigma pen, making a bit of a design as I did so. Then I used the pen to write out their names. I was desperate. This was not a good look so I decided to take my next option. As the label had been put on before I quilted the block I could not remove it easily so I made up another label and attached it to another of my quilts that was recently completed.
It wasn’t red either.

Double Wedding Ring Quilt


United Kingdom by: Anita Waller, Sheffield, England November 6, 2006

I have a wonderful job as an education development worker – I organise adult education classes in my local area. The classes that I arrange cover such topics as IT, local history, Spanish, French, First Aid etc., and over the past three years has become an enormous success. I love the work, and decided to find a patchwork and quilting tutor (I had just started learning to this craft) so that I could attend as a student at one of my own courses!

For two terms (20 weeks in all) we made various articles. However, the funding for the courses began to slow down, so I reluctantly had to say goodbye to our tutor and I took over.

This has been inspirational as far as I’m concerned. It has forced me to learn all aspects of patchwork and quilting – even the disciplines I am not too keen on. My class now supports 16 ladies of mixed abilities but all with a passion for this wonderful, creative hobby. They have made sampler quilts, cushions, wall hangings, Christmas gifts and many other things and Monday morning has become very special.

We also meet Monday evenings as a group where I am not the tutor, just a quilter – the name of our group is Patchwork Friends.

We really are!!


USA by: Karen Alexander, The Quilters Hall of Fame, Marion, IN USA October 31, 2006

Virginia Avery Inducted in July 2006.

The Quilters Hall of Fame inducted Virginia Avery, of Port Chester, New York, as the 36th Honoree into the Quilters Hall of Fame, July 15, 2006. Born and raised in Greenwood, Indiana, Virginia Avery graduated from DePauw University with a degree in English Composition and went to work at Indianapolis News. She would soon marry, move to New York and raise four children. In New York she pursued both her love of fabrics and clothing as well as her love of jazz. This talented renaissance woman showed a very early interest in what would become a life-long passion - material and fabrics, color and movement.

Clothing has long been a means of self-expression, but never so much so, we like to think, than our own times. An ancient philosopher once wrote “Know first who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.” The clothes we wear can indeed be a signal to what kind of things are going on inside our head. Virginia Avery, 36th Honoree of The Quilters Hall of Fame, shares the music inside her head through the clothing she designs. Totally self-taught in clothing construction, Virginia Avery made her first dress at age 12, not realizing one was supposed to use a pattern. What an apt beginning for what would become a very creative international career for that young girl become woman who intuitively knew she could dance “outside the box” using needle and thread, line and design, and gorgeous, saturated color.

In the early 60s, Avery approached two fabric shops and landed herself two clothing-construction teaching jobs. She also noticed quilting was making a comeback. Although she had never made a quilt, she thought of them as simply another form of sewing. With some family quilts as a guide, and a couple of magazine articles, she gave herself a crash course and planned a series of lessons. In August 1976 Avery attended the first national quilt conference, held in Ithaca, New York. It became a turning point for her career. Not only were quilts the major topic, but patchwork clothes were very much in evidence, giving her the confidence to begin teaching clothing classes along with quilting classes.

Also an accomplished jazz pianist, Jinny has played with the King St. Stompers for more than fifty years. They have appeared on the Today Show and played for the United Nations Delegates, as well as many other private events. Her traffic-stopping coats that she is so well-known for are: “Don’t Shoot the Piano Player She’s Doing the Best She Can,” on the cover of Wonderful Wearables, A Celebration of Creative Clothing (Collector Books, 1991); Midriff Lillies, which is the reverse side of “Don’t Shoot the Piano Player She’s Doing the Best She Can;” and Purple Passion on cover of Quilts to Wear (Scribner, 1982). Her outfit for Fairfield Fashion Show’s 10th anniversary was “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,” a garment titled with an old jazz tune. Inventive and experimental just like the jazz she loves so passionately, Jinny’s garments are “music in motion” indeed.

In her forty-plus years in the wearable art and quilt world Virginia Avery has amassed a considerable body of award-winning work, as well as a reputation as a teacher for inspiring and motivating her students in a self-affirming, creative learning environment. Avery is richly deserving being named one of the 1000 most influential women of the 1990s by Mirabella magazine; for being selected the 3rd recipient of the 1996 Silver Star Award for Lifetime Achievement by the International Quilt Festival; and now for her induction for induction into The Quilters Hall of Fame.

Virginia Avery Exibit

The exhibit “Virginia Avery: A Flair for Life”

Karen and Jinny at the Jam & Jazz session QHF held during Celebration week.

See The Quilters Hall of Fame website for details about QHF Celebration 2007 July 19-22, 2007 in Marion, Indiana


USA by: Connie Siffel, USA October 3, 2006

I am enclosing a picture of a quilt that I made in 2000 from scraps of fabric that I had left from making my husband's western shirts. It also was called Square Within a Square and might be an interesting way to use up leftover fabric.

Square in a Square Plaid Quilt


USA by: Maureen Kiefert, USA October 2, 2006

Please know that I cherish your newsletter. Your generosity is amazing. In this day when greed is prevelant, you and your readers share their wisdom and kindness. I "sop" it up and feel part of a special family. Thank you. Thank all of your readers and sharers. For those of us who are beginning quilters or quilters not quite sure of themselves, I appreciate all of you.

Editor: Thank You Maureen...What a wonderful letter :o)


Czech Republic by: Bohdana, Prague, Czech Republic September 16, 2006

Since today there is active web page of 1. Czech Quilt Exhibition (1. international quilt exhibition in Central Europe). It is provided by our club which is named Bohemia Patchwork Club. The pages will be step by step added. Please let all know about that and help us to propagate the exhibition.


South Africa by: Sue Llewellyn, Cape Town, South Africa August 14, 2006

Here is a picture (below) of my very first attempt at making a quilt. My stepdaughter, Laura, mentioned a baby shower that she had attended and how one of the sisters had asked each of the guests to take some material (calico) and just do their own thing. She explained that this was for a quilt for the baby, not for the bed, but as a wall hanging. Laura thought this was such a wonderful idea. It was a two minute conversation and nothing was ever mentioned about it again. However, some time later, when Laura was pregnant, my daughter and I decided that we would do this for Laura as she had so loved the idea. We handed out the calico squares several weeks prior to the baby shower and asked everyone to bring their completed masterpieces that afternoon. Laura was totally overcome and thrilled. The squares were fabulous, even the ladies who have no artistic abilities whatsoever had done themselves proud. I took the squares and made them up into a quilt and the result is here to see.

Quilt of Love

Perhaps some other mum or sister would like to try this idea, it is such a very special gift and we are always looking for new gift ideas.


Czech Republic by: Bohdana, Prague, Czech Republic July 5, 2006

I would like to share with you my quilter's joy news. On the June 17th in the 17 o'clock (Central European Time) 17 quilters (including me) have found the first official Patchwork Association in Central Europe. But the number of members is still increasing. The Association was born in Prague - the Capitol of Czech Republic. As the first task we have set international patchwork exhibition. We work hardly to realise it. More details I'll send next time. All ideas and advice are welcome.


USA by: Ruth, New York, USA July 10, 2006

Here is a link to an article... Click Granny Grad and you will see an article about me!


India by: Beth Johnson, Chennai (old Madras), South India July 10, 2006

Quilting: An Analogy

I had burned my India-born son—not with fire, but with boiling, sweetened tea. He lay in a semi-comatose state upon the quilt, in the middle of the floor, under a ceiling fan. I lay beside him, not so much out of his need as of mine.

It had happened on a particularly hot day in Tirucherappali, South India, where the temperatures often soar above one hundred-fifteen, and where disease runs rampant. My toddlers, dehydrated from heat, had been crying, because they wanted me to make them something to drink. Both were just behind me as I methodically boiled the water for the required twenty minutes, put the tea leaves into it and then the sugar. No sooner had I strained and poured the tea into the flask than Matthew grabbed it and commenced to drink. Whether it was the heat on his hands or the heat that touched his lips we'll never know, but he dropped the bottle, and the tea broiled him. His skimpy T-shirt acted as a poultice, holding the tea onto his tiny torso. Impulsively, I stripped the shirt and brought with it the skin of his entire stomach and chest.

A domestic employed in the house began rocking from side to side, chanting words in her native tongue while I tried to give Matthew some measure of relief before taking him for professional help. Running, I carried him down the gravel road toward the nearest hospital, the servant like a shadow behind me. There had been no car, and even if there had been, I couldn't have driven on the left side of the road amidst pedestrians, oxcarts, bicycles, and wandering animals.

Dr. Jeremiah (his Anglo name) came to meet me in the dark hallway and said in a half whisper, "Omygod, is it fire burn?" I didn't even have to tell him why I was there. He saw the bare, oozing, flesh where the bronze skin had been. He gave ointment for the healing, antibiotics for the infection that would come, and pain medication. There was no way Matthew could stay in the hospital since the conditions were far from sanitary. Dr. Jeremiah told me that my house would be relatively free of staff infection and that Matthew must go back there.

At home, we lay on the quilt, under a fan, trying to ignore the agony that covered us—his physical and mine mental. I read to him mostly, and the sound of my voice soothed his nerves. I talked at other times of things he could do when he was able to raise his body from the floor. I talked of the quilt he lay on: how this odd scrap had come from his sister's blouse, or that scrap had come from my dress, or another from his daddy's shirt. Then I waited for the medication to take effect and make him sleep, and watched the swelling come, and the liquid seep.

Thoughts of the quilt circled in my brain like a kaleidoscope. There had been good days—days represented by plain or printed fabric. The prints, like Jacob's ring-streaked and spotted cattle, were in abundance, and their gay colors bounced, circled, and swam before my watery eyes. Each piece of patchwork represented a time in our lives. These times had been brought together under the artistry of a quilter, and the quilt gave me hope because there had been good days.

Today was a pale block. Splashes of beautiful, bright colors had already been painted throughout, and, in contrast to this one, stood out like flowers in the snow. Death is a pale patch; today was as close to that color as any. Yet all of the colors seemed to blend marvelously. Overlooking the pale, mismatched, and badly sewn lines—life looked beautiful. I wondered what it would look like if I had been the only designer.

Matthew's quilt was so short, and the border had seemed ready to be quilted in. I wondered about the patterns that might be woven into his life—how long his quilt would be. I imagined his marriage with his bride weaving the threads of her own life into his. Would the threads be beautiful, colorful, and long, or would they be suddenly ripped apart, leaving a terrible gaping hole to cause agony and unrest. I wanted to be the one to help make those patterns, but his immature little fingers would also begin to work the colors together, without my help. My fingers had faltered. Yes, my fingers had almost helped to sew that pale border that I wished would never come.

Matthew recovered, and though he was scarred, he was alive. He doesn't like to talk about his scar; it is an ugly reminder of a brush with death. He likes quilts, and I am making one for him. It will have all the scenes of his life in India meshed together, the good days and the bad, the bright prints and the plain. There will be time for reminiscing and telling his children how it was.

Embroidered designs that make the quilt gay
Are pleasures and duties we find in our way;
Hope, love and kisses are stitches so bright,
Which decorate life with gleams of delight;
While sympathy sweet is the lining to hold
The odd scraps of fate, which we cannot control.
We are better than patchwork because of the soul

. . . found embroidered on back of 1890 quilt.






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