15 November 2011

Another Wedding Quilt

Nate and Kat: First married kiss
The wedding was wonderful! My son and daughter-in-law were married on the beach in Florida with a reception following in the Jupiter Civic Center just a few steps away. It was just as romantic as it sounds. We ate and danced and hugged and laughed. I loved having so many family members there, but before the night was over, I felt that everyone there, all friends of the bride and groom, were family.

The date was November 5th, 2011. I suppose they could have joined many others in getting married the following weekend on 11-11-11, but I feel very satisfied that they chose the 5th. November 5th is my grandmother's birthday. You can read about her here. She was born in 1899 and died in 1993, but she seemed very present to me that night. Last spring, before I realized the double date situation of her birthday and the wedding, I felt strongly that I wanted to make the bride and groom a quilt. Not just any quilt, but an heirloom quilt. Kat's wedding colors just happened to coincide with the colors used in the quilt Grandma made for my mother for her wedding day in 1946.

Top: 2011 version; bottom:  1946 quilt
Mom died in 1981, and my sister has inherited this quilt, still in good condition. I told her excitedly about my plan and she tried to discourage me. “I tried to copy this quilt and couldn't do it even when I had no deadline. I don't believe that women in our time are able to do work of this difficulty.” Since this sister is a master quilt-maker, with much greater skill than I have, I wondered what I could do to simplify the process. But I still had a strong desire to use Grandma's quilt as inspiration for Nate and Kat's quilt. Now I wonder if my mother and grandmother had already realized the “coincidence” of dates and relationships and were encouraging me in spirit.

I decided not to make as many appliqued daisy squares as Grandma had and to position them in a way that I thought would be easier to piece together. The quilt I was making was quite a bit bigger than my mother's quilt. My sister was still shaking her head, but she brought the quilt to me this summer to inspire and instruct me. Another sister, living closer, but also a master quilt-maker, agreed to mentor me through the process. I spent 6 weeks this summer in Florida with my husband and granddaughters as they attended a drama camp that our engaged couple taught. I didn't have my sewing machine there, but I bought the fabric and commenced the applique by hand. I had never done hand applique before, but my sisters predicted that I would be an expert before the quilt was finished. It was slow starting, but their predictions came true by the time the last square was appliqued.

Joy and the quilt at the wedding party
My mentor helped me piece it together (she was at the machine and I was pressing), and then came the quilting. After all the hand-applique, I really wanted to hand-quilt it too, but time was running short. In a marathon quilting bee, I received help from my sisters, my daughters and daughter-in-law and even my grandson and at the end, my husband, who took pity on me. My sister mentor bound it all together and I flew an extra suitcase to Florida with the quilt inside. I was still finishing some of the detail work, but it was all finished by the big day! They tell me they love it. I feel satisfied and happy, especially when, on their wedding day, I realized it was also Grandma's birthday. I feel loved and supported by those whose heritage I am celebrating as well as the children and grandchildren who have come after me.