Now that the wedding has come and gone and all the surprises have been sprung, I can finally share with you the details of the beautiful wedding quilt the women of our family along with some special kindred spirits created for the new bride and her husband.
Upon hearing the news of my daughter’s engagement to her sweet Benny, the planning began. Planning of course for the wedding itself but more immediately for the wedding quilt that has become a tradition among the women of my family. So on a clear day near the end of summer, 2010 a group of women gathered at Blue Antler Studio in celebration and support of one of their own.
I had already collected all the supplies we would need to express our joy for Cindy and Benny, and for the blessings of love itself, in the threads and stitches of a handcrafted quilt. The supplies included, pins, needles, scissors and thimbles, thread in various colors, fusible webbing, iron on photo-transfer sheets, fabric markers, quilt pattern books and of course a variety of fabric.
As is tradition we also sent material to the woman of our clan and any kindred spirits wishing to participate, young and old, who lived too far from the ridge to attend the gathering. It was exciting each time the scraps of fabric would return as a completed block. The diversity in creative styles were uniquely expressed in both design and technique. Some stitched their message in embroidery thread or applique, some seamed it in contemporary style while others in a traditional pattern and some, such as Lisa and our friend Karen used imagery to express their vision. Using a photo of Cindy, taken in NYC on the day we helped her find her wedding dress, (see previous blog – Wedding Update: The Dress, 2011/02/17 ) they imprinted the image onto a block as a photo transfer. Each creation was as lovely as the next and all unified by theme and fabric.
Only a few months later, with crisp autumn sunlight streaming through the windows, we gathered again, this time for a quilting. With the blocks all pieced into a beautiful top and layered together with batting and a backing, we took our seats around the old frame. Under the watchful eye and gentle tutelage of my mom, a skilled quilter of over sixty years, the first of many stitches was made. Even my dad stopped by to commit his support and his hands to the tradition by takiing a seat alongside the women; loving teasing his wife of nearly sixty five years with every clumsy stitch. But his visit was short as mom soon grew tired of his humor and shooed him away; which was surely his plan all along.
Laughter punctuated the scene as we reminisced about our children, now all grown up, our own time as young siblings and about the sweetness of young love, all the while stitching together the layers of fabric and of our family. As hands, as wide ranging in skill and experience as in age toiled together, our expression of love and tradition became a lovely wedding quilt.