Any quilt can tell a story, but some are designed specifically for that purpose. Recently it was my honor to make such a quilt as an 80th birthday gift.
The client who hired me was the recipient’s daughter and she wanted something that would showcase her father’s interesting life. We consulted initially by email, and I then sent her a few suggestions. The one that most appealed to her was a sampler quilt which could feature a variety of blocks but be coordinated by color. We had a follow-up phone conversation so I could learn more about her father; his interests, career, pastimes, etc. A few more emails after that clarified and added to the information and I was ready to start construction.
Fortunately I had a great fabric shopping opportunity with the timing of the Vermont Quilt Festival. That saved me from multiple trips to different shops. I decided on an initial palette of blue, green, and brown. Among the fabrics were pieces that featured the NY Yankees, world maps, music, golf balls, a variety of small and medium prints, and some solids.
I researched block patterns to find ones that would represent the various aspects of this man’s life. An Ohio Star block for his time working at NASA, Trip Down the Aisle to represent his 50+ year marriage, Vine of Friendship done with golf fabric for his long history with the sport, starting as a caddie when he was a teenager up through his current years as a senior golf champion. There were some chosen that were more “common” such as log cabin and hourglass, applicable to just about anyone’s story as we do all have some common elements of family and time. Others were designed specifically for this story, like the round grey circles representing his years designing cans (yes, you can thank him for the improvements in the food cans you probably use every day), as well as four blocks designed by his granddaughter – one for each of his four grandchildren. Some of the other blocks used were Bright Hopes, Crossroads, Card Trick, Split Decision, Country Decision, and Patience Corner.
With many of the blocks I had to re-size the original pattern or develop it from scratch. There was a lot of graph paper involved! It was challenging and satisfying. And of course the best part was hearing how much the client loved the finished piece, and how well received it was by this gentleman whose life briefly became part of my story.