T-Shirt Quilts are gifts for a lifetime of memories.
My Grandmother used to say, “If you cook, all you have to show for your efforts are the dirty dishes. If you quilt, you have given someone a gift for a lifetime.”
A wide-eyed 8 year-old stands by the quilt frame watching her Grandma and friends ply the needle over the quilt blocks. How I remember just waiting for the opportunity to try a few stitches. The joy of threading needles for Grandma, as she chatted and sewed with her friends, was the beginning of a history of learning the love my art of quilting.
Now years later, many projects have called my quilt frame home. The lessons learned from my Grandma have stood the test of time and now become valuable tools of my trade. For example, press seams towards the darker fabric. Keep scissors sharp and check that they cut straight. Scissors that have been dropped may not cut a true line. Always complete a practice quilt block to determine which piecing order you prefer and which direction you want the seams to face.
Grandma sewed her quilt blocks with either her treadle machine or in later years her new electric machine. Yet she strongly cautioned that no matter the sewing machine you purchased with every new option available, don’t forget the inexpensive and tiny essential item, the sewing machine needle. When stitching a quilt block, needles are best when sharp, and Grandma’s reminder was to replace the needle with each new quilt top. Dull needles become noisy and should be replaced immediately.
Today the treadle sits as a reminder to the woman I “SEW” admired. A new quilting and embroidery machine have become my choice today. The needles always are sharp! Thanks to Grandma, I now can give back to others with my talents, she gentled seeded so many years ago.
None gives me greater pleasure than to do memory t-shirt quilts, as I did for the Mom and step-father of one of my former students, Troy, who was taken from all of us too early in life. As I sat and cut, measured, sewed, and gently hand quilted each t-shirt of his life, I too recalled his many days in my classroom. “Quilts are like friend, a great source of comfort.” Each stitch was not one of sadness but one that brings hope to Troy’s family with their new t-shirt quilt. Cuddled in the t-shirt quilt, Troy’s family will remember the good times that each of the blocks represent.
“Our lives are like quilts bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love.”
To Grandma and Troy – “You were both SEW SPECIAL! “