My mom passed away in 2004. When we cleaned out her house after she passed away, I got the contents of her sewing room. She sewed her whole adult life, and taught me to sew when I was about 12. I remember the first thing I made was a pair of shorts and a vest from some fabric she had on hand, an ugly green striped material, but hey ... it was the 60s, so I fit right in!! She started quilting later in life, after I took it up. She made lots of pillows and a quilt for my sister, and one for my brother. She made a beautiful quilt for herself that hung on a quilt rack on the wall in her sewing room, which went to another brother after she died. She stopped crafting when dementia started to take its toll, so her sewing room sat unused for several years.
When we cleaned out her house, I brought all of her knitting needles, crochet hooks, bags of yarn, boxes of fabric, and a big blue plastic bin home to my house. I combined the knitting needles and crochet hooks with my own, sorted the yarn and gave some away for charity knitting projects and added the rest to my yarn stash and integrated her fabric with my own fabric stash.
The blue bin got put in the basement. It moved with us in 2010 to our new home and has been sitting in the basement untouched since then. This week, as I was reorganizing my sewing space, I decided to see what was in there.
I found 2 unfinished quilt tops with all the fabric needed to finish them. There are maybe 2 more, or maybe they are just orphan pieces from quilts she did already did. They are a few pieced blocks and lots of matching fabric, so I'll have to try to figure those out. There were also two quilted blocks she probably intended to make pillows out of, and another quilt, a preprinted wedding ring fabric that she was hand quilting and never finished.
The first one is a pierced star. I think it is king sized, but I haven't measured it yet. She had little notes pinned with the row numbers pinned to each row. Blue was her favorite color, and there was a LOT of blue fabric in her stash. The second one is a log cabin. In with the fabric was a note card she had made with the fabrics all numbered so she would remember what colors went where.
The last photo is the table in my sewing space with all of her projects sorted.
I spent the afternoon, ironing and sorting the pieces and figuring out which fabric went with which project.
It don't know why I didn't look in that bin until now. Maybe I just wasn't ready. Maybe it needed to wait for a time when spending an afternoon handling the fabric that she touched, examining the stitches that she made, seeing the notes that she wrote would be a comfort, instead of a reminder of how much I miss her every day.
While I sorted and ironed and stacked and examined, I imagined us sitting together over coffee, talking about the projects we were working on, sharing ideas on techniques and design. I remembered sitting around kitchen tables in the quilting group we both belonged to in the 1980s, where a group of about 10 women got together once a week at each others' homes, each working on their own projects, sharing conversation and fellowship and a lot of laughter. As I ironed her blocks and pieces, the smell of the freshly pressed fabric wafted toward my nostrils and brought back even more memories, reminding me of her bent over her sewing machine, making clothes for herself, me and my sister, making curtains and draperies and pillows for the house ... and quilts. It was almost like spending the afternoon with her.
My plan is to finish the two quilts that are almost done and give the blue one to the brother (I have 3) who does not have one of her quilts, and keep the other one for myself. If the 2 I'm not sure about are, indeed, the pieces for more tops, I'll finish those and the wedding ring quilt and give one to each of my boys.
My mom and I were very close. She wasn't just my mom, she was my best friend. She was lost to me for the last few years of her life, as the worsening dementia turned her into someone I didn't know. I missed my mom and grieved for her for years before she passed away. Since she's been gone, there has been a hole in my life that I have not seemed to be able to fill. As I work on these projects, I look forward to spending many more afternoons with Mom. I never imagined that blue bin, taking up space in my basement, contained such treasures. Or that I would rediscover it at a time in my life when being reminded of who she was, not who she became, would mean so much to me. What a treasure that blue bin has turned out to be!!
Until next time ...