Seeing Stars

You may find this hard to believe, but there are people in this world that take great delight in cutting fabric into little pieces. They take yards of perfectly good cloth, chosen for its color and design, then mercilessly slash it into tiny squares, rectangles and triangles.

Then, as if to make up for their destructive acts, they carefully sew all these little bits together again, but in the process they mix up all the colors and patterns. producing something that looks nothing like the perfectly fine bolts of cloth from which the pieces originated.

These people call themselves “quilters”. My wife is one of them. I have accompanied her on trips to the fabric shops, watched her spend time agonizing over this shade or that. Should the pattern be bold or subdued? How much of this one will be enough? Then she takes her selections home and begins slicing & dicing.

My wife, Marleen, has quilted with the Amish in Shipshewana, Indiana. We have traveled to Paducah, Kentucky where there is a National Quilt Museum devoted to the works of these deranged people. We visited Missouri Star Quilt Company, where the whole main street of Hamilton, Missouri is nothing but fabric and sewing stores. (Fortunately for me, right in the middle of the block the have a “Man Cave” equipped with leather recliners, sports books, beverage machines, and two Mens’ restrooms.)

Marleen has sewn quilts with other ladies in our church. They cut, sewed, quilted precious handmade gifts which they sent with mission teams to Appalachia. Our children and grandchildren have received quilts. Our home is graced with quilted wall hangings and table runners and lap quilts. (The latter make for comfortable napping.)

In the basement of our home, there are two rooms devoted to this creative destruction. The process begins at three cutting tables, moves to one of three sewing machines, and ends on a ten-foot wide long arm quilting contraption. Scattered around are sketches of ideas, scissors, cutters, needles, bobbins, thread in every color of the rainbow, batting both natural and manmade, and fabric, lots & lots of fabric.

Only once has Marleen submitted a quilt for judging, and that one earned her a ribbon.

Marleen & her prize winner

But the one thing missing in all these years of effort was a quilt for our bed. A couple of weeks ago, my dear wife remedied that situation by finishing a beautiful, king-sized bed quilt. The thing was so huge, that I had to help her maneuver it around the table as she sewed on the binding. But what a gorgeous creation it is. It’s too warm to sleep under now, but it decorates the bed in daytime, and it will be welcome on those cold winter nights. I am blessed to be the husband of this wonderful woman.

“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands…She makes coverings for her bed;”

Proverbs 31:13, 22 (NIV)

5 thoughts on “Seeing Stars

  1. Yes, yes, yes! My Grandma Neal and Dad’s sisters all quilted. I didn’t learn until my husband was sent to Idaho (from Iowa), where some ladies taught me. I certainly appreciated Grandma’s more, and quilted regularly for several years. As the women morphed into more “art quilts,” I found myself lagging behind, preferring the ones that looked as if Grandma had let me go through her box of pieces left from making aprons and dresses. A first cousin still owns Adel Quilting and Dry Goods, in Adel, Iowa, and teaches quilting. Making memories and heirlooms! (I only used a machine to stitch the binding to the top, but hemmed it by hand. Love the hand-work.)

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    • How great it would be if you and Marleen could meet! Her mother would have been 100 years old next Friday, but she died at the age of 46. If ever we are allowed to travel again, and if we decide to visit Marleen’s brother in Adair, maybe we could get together for coffee?

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  2. I remember my granny used to quilt. We had what we called the “Foothills” not far from where she lived. it was wide open prairie, a home to antelope, coyotes, and of course my arch nemesis, the snake. It was a where the locals went and just dumped their trash. To this day there’s a couple of hundred thousand little piles of debris ranging from everything to include rusted cans, bath tubs, you name it. I;m sure some future archelogist will really appreciate the place.

    Anyway, clothing was one of the things people tossed. She’d brave it all to go up and collect the rags others had tossed. From these piles of old pants and shirts, she made quilts.

    I remember as a child watching her make them.

    Saddens me none of them exist any longer.

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