Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Suzanne’s Ties That Bind.

One of the most special things to me with doing what I do is meeting you.

No matter how we ended up here, we are all in this together.

We come from different areas of this amazing world, born under different circumstances, bringing each bit of knowledge and life experience with us to the table.  I learn so much by hearing your stories.  I love the connection, the feeling of Quiltership (Kind of like fellowship, but we are more than fellows) that makes us realize we are part of something bigger than just fabric and thread and stitching.

I had a lovely interchange with Suzanne, shown here with her brother Phil and the quilt she made for him.  The story is below in Suzanne’s own words.

Hello from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada!

I have to share this story with you. December 18, 2015 was a sad day - one of my managers died at the age of 42! He left behind a wife (also a coworker) and three teenagers. Early in January, his wife Shelly approached me and asked if I could turn Shaun's dress shirts and ties into a quilt for her. I knew she could not cut his clothes apart, so I got started preparing the 'fabric'.

Did I mention that I even tracked down your 'take shirts apart' video?!

Luckily, Shaun was a very large man, so there was a lot of fabric to use.


Shelly looked through some of my previous quilts and chose a Log Cabin Star that I made when my sister retired. Yikes! The shirts were mostly dark, the ties were dark, and I was worried about the outcome with just a few light options. He had ONE bright shirt - lime green if you can believe it! But, short sleeves! Another manager was wearing the same colored shirt one day, (turns out they both shopped at Mr. Big and Tall~!!) and I asked him if he was willing to share the shirt off his back if I needed it. He was, and I did!


The green is wonderful in here!

The original plan was to have the quilt made for Valentines Day. How silly of me, with working full time and everything else going on. I spent all of March with my mom, 24/7 in her Long Term Care room.

Mom also passed away April 2nd.

Three months later, my baby brother Phil (51) passed away unexpectedly! That threw me for such a loop that I needed time off work. I couldn't sleep, sometimes being awake for 60+ hours at a time! I made a lot of quilts though, so that helped me recover. 
Long story, but .... Mom's birthday was November 30th and I found that I couldn't get through a day of work without breaking down. My brother's birthday was coming (Dec 28th) and I knew I needed to be at home, so I went back on 'Sick leave".

I decided that if I was having such a hard time, Shelly must be even worse - Shaun was the love of her life, and she was about to spend another Christmas without him. I put my big girl pants on and went to work - I had the ties stabilized and cut in strips, but the shirts were still in need of ironing and cutting apart. I had to utilize a few cream colored t-shirts (stabilized) to give myself a bit more room in the light department.


Once I got going on the Log Cabin Blocks, I blocked everything out and just sewed.

I tried to use as many of the nicer ties, and get a good mixture happening. The lime green shirt was my center block, and then the first outer border. Working on this quilt was my therapy as well. Lots of ironing! Strips were cut 1 1/2", so the blocks had some nice movement. When I finally got the layout on my design wall, I almost cried. Put the borders on, pressed it really well, and back up on the wall... Then I did cry.

It was quilted by a friend (rush job!!) with hearts and swirls. When Shelly finally saw it, she burst into tears!! Sorry for the long story, but I wanted to share why I am late joining your Mystery quilt-along. AND point out that your penchant for scrappy helped me a lot with this quilt. Other than the stabilizer and the backing, there are no store bought fabrics in this quilt. I am pretty happy with it.

When I look at your quilts, far off and close up, it really is true that everything can work together. A testament to Shaun's wardrobe is how well this quilt works with his colors.


The quilt I made my sister was such a different color palette that I really built up a wall in my mind that the Log Cabin wouldn't work - glad to be proven wrong. Lots of prayer went into the process!!

I tried to keep track of time invested, pretty sure it is about 150 hours, with taking apart, cutting and construction. Definitely in love with it though. This was the inspiration for Shelly's choice, maybe because Shaun was a Star Wars nut? I had his funeral card put onto fabric and it was the label for the quilt.
This is why we do what we do.  This is why we quilt.

Sometimes when life is frayed at the edges, we can stitch things back together by simply going through the act of pressing, cutting, stitching, pressing some more, adding piece to piece.

As we put the pieces of the blocks and finally the quilt together, our minds are also putting the pieces of our lives back in order so that we can see how we are going to keep going.  One foot in front of the other, one good cry here, and another good cry there, knowing that we are never alone, that we have each other.

Thank you for sharing your story, Suzanne, and for being part of my quilt circle!


This was the view landing into Phoenix yesterday!

It’s great when coming from the east coast to the west because you can get here still relatively early in the day.  But the bad part about a 6am flight is the getting up at 3:30am to leave for the airport by 4:00am so you can check your luggage at 4:30am and board your flight at 5:30am and get on your way.

I had planned to sleep.  But did I??? NO!  And why? 

Because on long flights I get a chance to watch movies that are just for ME.  Movies that the men-folk in my family would not want to watch because there is no spying, no intrigue, no blowing up of everything in sight.

I laughed and laughed, trying to keep it quietly to myself but sometimes failing as I settled in to stitch hexies while watching Bridget Jones’ Baby.  Oh my goodness!

And on the tail end of that, I watched Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins.  Tears were rolling.  This story was presented SO well. Loved it, loved it, loved it – and yet I know it is something the family would not sit through, so I was delighted.

I think the thing that resonated with me was the scene where Florence’s piano accompanist, after having played with Florence singing in Carnegie Hall states. “I played Carnegie Hall!  I actually played Carnegie Hall!”  and the sweet memory of standing on that stage in Carnegie Hall with my dad, singing Brahm’s Requiem with a joint chorale around 1988 came flooding back to me.

Oh how I wish there would have been digital cameras and smart phones back then.  It’s one of my favorite memories of my dad.  Singing together this amazing requiem while the Manhattan Philharmonic played in the pit just in front of the stage.  I connected with the pianist in Florence Foster Jenkins, I’ve felt that same unbelievable “Wow.  I’m really here doing this.”


My wheels this trip!

Last time I came I was upgraded to a Mustang.  This time, upgraded to a Chrysler 200.  I’ll be zipping around from workshops in Chandler to workshops in Prescott, with plenty of family time in between.

Today is a rest up day.  There may be another movie as Dad loves to take advantage of senior matinee prices.  I’m game.  Spending time together is so precious.

Tomorrow is my day with the Nimble Thimbles in Chandler!


Quiltville Quote of the Day.

Photo shared by Kevin H.

It's a new year. Turn the page. Watch where your energy is being used. Be discerning of who and what you give it to.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

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  1. Great Memory! We all can relate to the Therapy that comes from our Quilting. Thanks for the sharing of Suzanne's story. New Babies and Sad goodbyes in December get me. The circle of life goes on. I'm grateful for all the Quilters in my Circle! Temps in the teens today here in the PNW. Bring on SPRING!

  2. A lovely thing to do for a friend. I cry a lot when I quilt. My brain, heart and hands are all going in different ways. That's how I became a fan, Bonnie. Your quilts force me to stay focused, and it's lovely to know others are working along with me all over the world.

  3. A lovely thing to do for a friend. I cry a lot when I quilt. My brain, heart and hands are all going in different ways. That's how I became a fan, Bonnie. Your quilts force me to stay focused, and it's lovely to know others are working along with me all over the world.

  4. Totally brought back memories of quilting in the wee, wee hours of the night while worrying about my sick father. "Quilt Therapy" is not just a slogan, it's so true! Love all the quilts, tips, and friends! Thank you, Bonnie!

  5. Thank you for sharing a true story, one that motivates and makes us grateful to be quilters. I think it chose me.

  6. Hi Bonnie, have you ever flown into Sky Harbor and seen the fountain hills fountain going off? It was spraying the first time we flew into phoenix and we spent the rest of the trip figuring out what we had seen and visiting it in person. Fun times.

  7. Oh Bonnie (and Suzanne), I just am floored (tho I'm actually sitting,let's just think fanny floored) with your words! I am so emotionally involved, my heart hurts for you Suzanne, I am so sorry for your and your family's loss. Love the quilt, you did a fabulous job. And I remember your FB post sharing, I commented how I even liked your towns name of Moose Jaw.
    Bonnie, may your Arizona trip be all you plan and more. Safe travels and prayers to your health, no colds!

  8. To Suzanne, what courage and discipline you showed in working through all your emotions on these projects. I have just received a similar request from a very close friend; she has asked for four quilts, one each for her children and one for herself. I immediately said yes and then fear set in. You have shared your story and now perhaps I will find the resolve to work on my own journey. What a wonderful gift you have given and I am glad it helped you too.

  9. Suzanne....thank you, thank you for sharing this truly lovely story.

  10. Bonnie thanks for the great story shared, we all have been in an emotional melt down in the past. But love, smiles and laughter makes healing easier.

  11. Just when you think you have it rough...then there is a story like Suzanne's! We should all count ourselves lucky. But even during her pain and loss she found something in herself to help a friend. That really is what quilting can do I believe.
    Enjoy your time with your dad.

  12. As always your posts are so personal and so lovely, Bonnie. I love the way you love your Dad and are so connected to him and have the opportunity and use it to spend time alone with him. Time to be treasured.
    And Suzanne's story touched me deeply as well. I went through the exact same situation. I first lost my mother, having to put her into a nursing home in her home town, 1500 mikes from where I lived. And then i watched her disintegration, surgeries, illnesses until finally she was at peace. I made her a quilt at her request, she wanted it in my favorite color of purple. I never finished it as I was so busy going back and forth taking care of her and my baby brother who was struggling with health problems and worst of all, with mental illness. Not long after I lost my mother, I also lost my brother. At the same time I struggled with my own health and had a baby granddaughter that was having development problems. We have spent hours upon hours of time with her in the past 6 years in the midst of the loss of both our mothers and my brother and I have had little time to actually quilt.
    However my hope has been that one day life would smooth out a little and I would find that time. In the meantime these stories and Bonnie's posts and tales of her quilting life have all kept me going almost daily as I have known that someday I will be able to say this chapter is closed and I can start piecing my own life back together. I think that time is finally her. And the good news is that part of my "therapy" has been gathering the fabric, the notions and the patterns in the wee hours when I don't sleep and on the days when my mind has been too exhausted to do anything else but dream of quilting.
    Thank you, Bonnie, for keeping me and so many others going. The days you write that you got it together even with a bad cold, makes me realize that I can do it, too! God bless you and God bless Suzanne in Moose Jaw.

  13. Hi Bonnie, Thanks for the story. My precious brother, Tim, died suddenly this past September and it was really hard to bear. I spent Thanksgiving with my sisters in Chandler because we know that we only have so much time left and want to share it with each other. Wish I could be there with the group -- it would be soooo fun to meet you and quilt with the group. I am working on Talkin Turkey right now -- hand quilting, if you can believe it!!! and loving every minute. Thanks so much for all you do for us.
    Susan -- Sacramento , Calif.

  14. Thank you for sharing the beautiful story & beautiful quilt!

  15. Quiltership! Yes! A fellowship of quilters. Women of the heart and needle.
    Thank you to you and to Suzanne for sharing her story.
    And to commenter Trudi who 'often cries as she quilts.' You are not alone, Trudi. I cry and pray. As have women for many generations. If only those old stitches could talk, the stories of heartache and joy they could tell. That is why each antique quilt scrap is so precious. Each one represents the real life times of real people.
    Thanks, Bonnie

  16. this post made me cry. I have made baby quilts and the mommies have cried.

    My mother finished a large quilt for my adult daughter just days before having a major stroke. It was the last thing she made. It was a hodge podge of colors, nothing that would win a prize at all. But my daughter won't trade that quilt for anything.

    My mother in law made a crocheted lace tablecloth for everyone of her young granddaughters when they were young. She wanted them to be given out when they got married. I saved that tablecloth for 25 years and was so happy to present it at her shower - everyone was crying.

    Yes - that is why we craft, sew, quilt, and love.

  17. Thank you for that quote most of all. I am dealing with some loss of friends - well I thought they were friends - who have made it impossible for me to go on a particular retreat that I loved. Apparently from what I have heard they don't love me, as much as I love being with them. But I have found that there are a lot of friends out there who do like me for me and they are my concentration for 2017. My word this year is "Patience", with myself and with others. Have fun with your family and getting back into the swing of teaching. You have so much to share and I am so thankful that you choose to share it through your blog.

  18. I love your posts Bonnie, they are so heartfelt, I always look forward to reading them. Thank you for sharing this personal side of Quilting.

  19. You have the most awesome events and memories in your life.Thanks for sharing them. Love your quilts and everything you share, including your hunt for the perfect Quiltville 2.

  20. That is one beautiful quilt! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Thank you for sharing Suzanne's letter. I think it resonates with all who quilt. A huge part of what we do is the sharing. Sometimes, the consistency of cutting, pressing and stitching helps to put our minds at rest. That is why we do what we do!

  22. where do you find your movies that you watch on your trips?

  23. one of your BEST 'shares'... love you and thank you for your contribution to my life, even thru others' contributions. Yep...thanks, Cats

  24. Thank you for sharing as I was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and still have family there the story was even more precious to me. Sewing is my therapy! I work in a crazy field of education, do not live near my children and changed countries to boot so quilting provides me with a much needed form of therapy. I loved this story and I love how generous you, Bonnie are with all of your quilting community - once again thank you!

  25. Thank you to all who have commented. This quilt was definitely a blessing - to get the initial request (and the trust that went with it!), and make it work as well as it did was not just my doing. I know that I had help!! Janet, that's awesome that you were born in Moose Jaw. Not sure when you were here last, but you wouldn't recognize the place! The Crushed Can has been demolished!!! New hospital, new rink venue, new subdivisions... Quilting through my grief has produced 11 quilts since July! At least I think that's all I have made. The outcomes are all different, but the consistency of the process is a great place to lose oneself in contemplation. Piecing brings peace! Should put that on a t-shirt, or coffee cup, lol... Keep on keeping on

  26. Thank you for posting and Suzanne for sharing. I used the dreaming of projects and petting fabric for a few years when life's commitments took all of my physical time.. I look back and know that we all keep on by our connection to others who are "sharing" our life-no matter where or who they might be. I'm coming out of this portion and hopefully will now have the time to make some of those dreams come true.

  27. I finished my "Leo Loves Evelyn" quilt and gave it to my father-in-law on New Years Eve. He and I had a good cry together. I used my mother-in-law's blouses and shirts to make broken dishes blocks. I think we are all broken without her. He called me last night. He had slept under the quilt in their house in Montana. He shows the quilt to everyone who visits and everyone has a good cry. He said thank you and "I am beholden to you." I told him "you are very welcome." Thank you for sharing the story of Suzanne's amazing gift.

  28. Anonymous7:49 PM EST

    That is so beautiful, Bonnie you never stop giving and loving and more giving and more loving. How do you do it? And so well!


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