Friday, July 4, 2014

Scrappy Americana

Here is a little story about one of the coolest quilts that I ever made.  It began about eight years ago, when my dear friend Liz and I were both living in St. Louis, Missouri.  We were downtown on the Fourth of July, enjoying all of the fun festivities while we waited for night to descend and the super spectacular fireworks show over the Arch to begin. A lady walked by with a red, white, and blue quilt in her arms and Liz said, "I've always wanted a red, white, and blue quilt." "Really?" I said nonchalantly.  "Yes," said Liz.  I made a mental note right then and there.  Step one: I would learn to quilt.  Step 2: I would make Liz a red, white, and blue quilt.

That was one of those nudging little thoughts that stayed with me for years.  I finally did learn to quilt and the thought never left me, "If I have learned to quilt then I need to make Liz a red, white, and blue quilt, because that is Step 2." When Liz's husband, Rob, joined the army, it seemed even more important to make her a patriotic quilt.

Years later, while I was working at The Sewing Circle, I was helping a woman named Ellen quilt a 4th of July table cloth and it struck me that the time had come to begin Liz's quilt.  I mentioned to my co-worker Diana that I thought I would make a repeat of a quilt I'd already made, but would substitute red and blue for the colors.  It was a relatively simple block pattern.  She told me, "No Karen, you can't make the same quilt twice.  You have to do something new."  Ellen reinforced this by telling me that she would share her scraps with me from her tablecloth.  So that is where I began.  I pieced together Ellen's scraps and recreated a star similar to hers.

Ellen's tablecloth star.

Then I just kept sewing.  I would sew a little here and a little there.  I would often tell people about my project and they would donate red, white, and blue fabric.  It was so fun.  It truly felt like a community quilt.  It was also the first time that I really just sewed fabric together without having a pattern.  It was so exciting and creative.

It took me a couple of years, but I finally finished the quilt.  I literally finished it a night or two before I flew to Tennessee to visit Liz.  I remember as I hand tacked the binding, I was sewing over fabric that was covered in fireworks.  It felt like a celebration to be finally finishing a project that had been years in the making.

Giving Liz the quilt is one of my happiest memories.  We laughed, we cried, we hugged, and shared all kinds of quilty happiness.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. May it be a celebration of the good things in life.

1 comment:

  1. Fun story! I bet Liz will like this post, too. :-)