Friday, May 10, 2013

Recycled Plaid Love!

I received a lovely email from Leah with the story of how her wonderful quilt came to be!

I hope you are as inspired as I was when I received it!

She writes:

Bonnie,I wanted to tell you a story about the quilt I just finished using your Smith Mountain Morning quilt pattern and send you some pictures.My dad has Alzheimer’s and has been in a nursing home for 4 years.  As you can imagine it has been difficult for all of us. But especially for my mom.  They have been married for 61 years.

About 2 years ago my mother gave me 5 flannel shirts of my dad’s and asked me to make a quilt from them.  I confess that I was not enthused.  The flannels were red and blue plaids.  I could not really think of what to do with them and I just wanted to get this out of the way quickly.  So I cut the shirts apart and cut them into rectangles – 6 in x 12 in and 3 in x 6 in.
I then sewed the large rectangles together – short end to short end – about 7 in each row.  I then set the rows apart by plain flannel sashings – alternating red and blue.  I then used the smaller rectangles as borders.  I got it all together.  Laid it out on the floor and stepped back.
I HATED it!!!!!
I realized that I would be embarrassed to have my name associated with this quilt.  I am not saying that I am a great quilter.  But I want to like the quilts I make and feel proud to show them to others. I also realized that I would NEVER complete this quilt because of how much I disliked it.  I didn’t know what to do and I was frustrated.   So I folded the quilt up and set it aside. I moved on to other projects – including your Orca Bay Mystery.
Leah’s Quilt Adaptation!
But the flannel quilt kept haunting me.  About 9 months after I set it aside, I decided that I had to do something with the flannel.  I began to look for quilt patterns that used plaids. I stumbled across your Smith Mountain Morning quilt pattern.  I knew this was it!
I took the quilt top apart.  .  I wasn’t sure of my mother’s plans for the quilt but I thought she might want to put it on my dad’s bed at the nursing home.  So it needed to be close to twin size.  Since I had already cut the shirts up, I knew that I probably wouldn’t have enough flannel to make the quilt twin size. So I bought some more flannel.
I adapted your pattern to put a solid square in the middle of the stars because the flannel raveled and stretched too much.  All the star points, some of the logs and most of the border triangles are from my dad’s shirts.  For the back I bought a men’s shirting fabric and included the extra courthouse steps block. I quilted this on my domestic sewing machine.
Quilt Back!
Now I love the quilt and I know my mother will too!  Thank you  so much for all you do for us quilters.
I hope you enjoy the pictures.
Happy quilting!

Leah Davis
I LOVE what you did with this, Leah! Thank you so much for sharing the story of your Dad and how this quilt came to be.

Smith Mountain Morning is found in Scraps & Shirttails II!
I’m off for a Charlotte’s Basket’s workshop with the Wings Falls Quilters this morning….it’s going to be another fun filled very full day with close to 40 students!
Bring it on…I’ve had a good night’s sleep and I’M READY!


  1. Beautiful quilt and equally beautiful story on how the quilt came to be.

  2. It's a lovely quilt and an equally fascinating story - thanks to both of you, Bonnie and Leah, for sharing it!
    I love the squares in the white border triangles - a nice touch.

  3. Lovely quilt and great story. I am sure the quilt will be loved.

  4. Anonymous7:50 AM EDT

    Beautiful quilt with beautiful story!

  5. Anonymous8:12 AM EDT

    So beautiful! What a nice gift for her dad; and a great up-cycle of his shirts!
    Mary/Georgetown Delaware

  6. This story brought me to tears. To me, this is what quilting is all about - creating something with love, quilting in some memories and good wishes, and at the end, having a thing of warmth and beauty that will bring comfort and love to someone. Leah, you created something you can take pride in!

  7. Wow, what a beautiful quilt! Such a sweet work of love!

  8. Beautiful quilt and beautiful story of love. Thank you, Bonnie (and Leah), for sharing.

  9. Awesome story, and her quilt looks fantastic!

  10. Does the pattern say how many shirts you need? I used Bonnie's pattern "Smokey Mountain Stars" to make a quilt from my Dad's shirts after he died for my Mom, and I love it. I still have some of his heavier flannel ones though and want to make one from them too.

  11. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing the picture and story. I am struggling with "scrappy"....I have always tried my best to make things "Match". This is one that I could get into!

  12. That is absolutely awesome. I have a lot of red and blue plaid shirts left from when I did my Orca Bay in all shirts. I could definitely get into this one - and donate it as a Quilt of Valor. Sue K

  13. I love the whole story and I love quilt, too! It is especially heartening to hear about a project that seemed initially doomed to failure, that came back from the edge of defeat to become a proud victory. It reminds us all to use a fresh eye and persevere.

  14. That quilt is so beautiful! I totally love it. The plaids just worked perfectly.

    Need to checkout that pattern. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Anonymous11:20 AM EDT

    Leah this is a beautiful quilt. You certainly can be very, very proud of it. It's sentimental meaning will grow with love as the years pass. Thanks to you and Bonnie for sharing it with us.


  16. I know it is hard to deal with her dad's illness, but so nice to still have him around. I made many flannel shirts for my dad with snaps instead of buttons so his carpal tunnel wouldn't hinder him. I wish I had been quilting when he died. My Mom would have loved a quilt made from his shirts. Now that they are both gone I wish I had them back every day. Leah, what a lovely thing to do for your Mom and believe it or not, your Dad may even remember those shirts and love to touch them each day!

  17. What a great quilt and such a wonderful story!
    I'm sure her Mom and Dad just love this quilt.
    It will always be a reminder of the love they have for eachother.....
    Enjoy your teaching and thanks for sharing this with us!
    Love, Ria.

  18. Leah, The love sewn into that quilt will be with you and your family always. Happy Mother's Day.

  19. I love seeing quilts that people have made from Bonnie's patterns, especially when they have adapted or personalized them in some way. Bonnie's patterns are great because they leave scope for the imagination -- though of course they are also gorgeous if you make them exactly the way she does.


  20. What a beautiful quilt! I made quilts from my father's shirts, but they weren't that fancy. But they sure are a treasure. Thanks for sharing!


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