Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My Mother Made Me Do It: The Birth of a Quilter

I lost my mom on February 27,2015.  It was extremely sudden.  We talked on the phone every night.  Literally every night.  For like 2 hours.  We spoke on the 26th for our normal phone call, and she was fine.  She was perfectly fine.  She wasn't even ill.  Everything was so normal.

Until I got the worst phone call of my life the next morning.  Her nurse had discovered her.  It was devastating.  It was ruled natural causes.  Apparently it was her heart.

So we (my 3 sisters and I) started to make our way to where she was.
  She lived out of town a ways.  We were in charge of not only planning this unexpected event, but also emptying her apartment.  We had four days.  Total.  So, we bucked up as best we could, and went to work.  It was getting dressed for 'Family Hour', and going and packing before and after.  We worked rather well in dividing it all.  I naturally got her buckets of fabric and anything crafty.  I am the only one that sewed.  So, in hazardous conditions we made our way back.
Worst. Four. Days. Of my Life.  Words cannot describe it.

About a month later, it was starting to get warmer, and my husband wanted to clean out the garage.  All Mom's stuff was in there.  I wasn't ready.  So we moved the boxes around inside the house.  There were two plastic tubs full of fabric, and I didn't really figure there would be anything that would trigger me in fabric, so I kinda sifted through.  A lot of it I gave her.  Then I saw it.  I couldn't have been more wrong about no triggers though.  I found a Walmart sack, and opened it.  I found quilt tops in it.  I found one finished, and one in squares.  We didn't even know she quilted.  Well, we bought her the stuff, but she'd only ever made a tiny one for my daughter.  That's it.  But I knew she did these, they had her sheets in them.  She had cut up several sheets that I recognized and had seen for years.
Right away, I just broke down.  I didn't know what to do, or why I was even digging in that box.  But I had.  I wanted to tell someone, but the one I talked to about everything was newly gone.  My husband comforted me.

After staring at them and holding them for several days, I felt I needed to finish them.   I think she knew I would.   I did sew.  I had never done much by hand, but that is how she would've done them.  I pretty much went to the store, bought some material I thought matched, and came home.  I also purchased cotton batting.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I did what I had kind of figured out from my grandma, and watching TV.  I laid out the backing, and laid out the batting, and threw the top on top.  ( I put the squares together for this one).  I used every pin in my house.....yes, straight pins.  I got it sandwiched.  I had talked to my mom about quilting before, and knew you started in the middle and such.  Well, then I couldn't do anything......So I found a picture and had my husband make me a frame.

It took around a day and a half to come up with plans, to done.  He is amazing.  He helped me put a quilt on it that I had from my aunt, and I liked it.  Worked fabulously.....

I got my freshly sandwiched quilt and had my husband help me to put it on the frame.  We got it to the center, and now, it seems, became the hard part.  I looked up some videos and tried, but apparently this is something that looks quite easy, but is not.

I looked and found my granny's thimble, and found some various needles, and went to it!  I got started on the first square, and I was about to cry.  It looked terrible.  I just sat and cried.  It was too much.
 So I turned to the only thing I could think of 
for advice......Facebook.

I went to a Quilting page, and posted it with a very down-on- myself message, and was just hoping for someone to give me some useful words of wisdom.  Just something.  

Then.....something very astonishing happened.  They were nice.  They were encouraging.  They were so helpful.  So supportive.  There were so many comments.  Then I met Wendy Gontier.  She commented that she would be happy to help, encourage, and talk if I would like.  A quilting veteran of over 20 years.  She was an angel.  Telling me my stitches were fine.  I was doing really well.  Words I really needed to hear.

She walked me through it.  Every step.   She advised me on needles, and thread, and all the other things that 'normal non-quilters' don't know.

It seemed that with as much trepidation as I started it, it was now zooming by at an impressive rate.   My angel (Wendy) and I were talking every day.  She was wanting pictures, and celebrating with me.                                       I was sitting down stitching nearly every day.  It made me feel closer to Mom.  I felt like she was right there with me.  I was touching things she touched and put time into.  Besides, both my grandmothers, and my mother and several women in my family quilted.  It was a family tradition.......and quickly becoming an addiction.
So, now this is the fun part.  I finished the top.  I was happy dancing.   This was kind of the point at which we realized that I needed to put a border on it.  So I was going to have to try to attach a border after the top was finished.  I kinda got the order wrong.   So between Wendy and my husband we figured out a border.   Then I had to figure out how to stitch the border. 
Once again, Wendy helped me have the confidence to design this myself.  She gave me some ideas, and I took off.  I doodled some, and finally figured out my design late one night.

I had also figured out what I would do with this quilt.  I figured I would give it to my oldest sister.  I knew she would cherish it, and I knew she needed it.  We were all taking things very hard.  This might become a source of sunshine for her to see.  That thought made me smile.

Wendy held my hand and walked me through the whole process.  Showing me how to with videos and Skype.  She was amazing.  Who knew losing my mother, my best friend, and finding a stranger that wound up being an angel could happen with the same object.  If I had not lost my mom, I wouldn't have started quilting.  But because I did, I met Wendy, who through craft of quilting helped me grieve.

I am still grieving, not sure that is going to end, but I am also still quilting.  I turned the other quilt top into three.  One for my other two sisters and myself.  And, with Wendy's help, am doing tops and whole quilts on my own.  So, therapy turned's a little backwards, but I'll take it.                                                                                                                                         This is for you mom.                                                                         I love you.                                                                  Always.                             

Please go see the other beautiful quilts!
Thank you Amy for my first chance at showing mine off!