Engineering a Good Life

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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.

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Vine of Friendship and NY Yankees

World Traveler and Patience Corner

World Traveler and Patience Corner

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.

(Ohio) Star and Bright Hopes

(Ohio) Star and Bright Hopes

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.

Engineering a Good Life

Engineering a Good Life

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.

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The Open Door

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One of the pleasures of living in a family home is the plethora of history that surrounds me on a daily basis. Of course there is the house itself with its lived in rooms, then there are various pieces of furniture that were part of the former decor, used now in different locations but still cherished. There is a particular painting that graced a dining room wall that now has a place on a different wall in that room. There are even some old photos of family members in their youth or prime, perhaps as they would have looked when residing here.

2015-08-24 07.50.10And just recently this guestbook made its way back to the house, where it had been used by my husband’s grandparents, off and on, for decades. It had left among other personal mementos 30+ years ago and thankfully had been stored in favorable conditions. My husband and in-laws remember many of those who signed this book over the years, but for me the highlight was seeing my own name from a visit I made in 1974. I stayed in an upstairs bedroom that is now the room where my long-arm is kept! I have no memory of the guestbook,  let alone signing it, although I do remember the lovely bedroom with the floral wall-paper, comfortable bed, and the gracious hostess – my future grandmother-in-law.

I don’t know as we’ll actively use this guestbook – an idea that seems formal for our lifestyle – but it seems fitting that it is back where it started. And in some strange way, I think that since its arrival we have had more company, visits, and social engagements than usual. I like to think it is a talisman of how welcoming our home will be over these next few decades.

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