Friday, May 13, 2011

Remembering Cindy...Part #2: A Life of Practical and Pretty

First off, I need to point out that while our extended family appreciates the enjoyment we have with quilting and sewing, for themselves, sewing tends to mean mending.   All members of the family own sewing machines.  This event was for many of them their first quilting venture and their sewing machines (and them) would never be the same.  Armed with an earnestness to honor their sister’s memory and create a loving quilt-hug for Keith and their children, my sisters-in-law, mother-in-law and several nieces and nephews joined in this two day adventure. 

Therese and I focused on having the family sewing be as much of their hands as possible.  To this end, we planned the projects so that they were (for the most part) quilt-as-you-go techniques.  With around 17 people sewing for two days straight, we had various stations of activities going on throughout the two-day stretch.  Cutting denim, fusing stabilizer to t-shirts, planning, were all rotated tasks.  We’d encouraged people to participate in several different steps to combat boredom with some tasks.

The first quilt we tackled wasn't necessarily the most difficult nor the easiest but it was a chance for us to get everyone involved in serious cutting and sewing.  Cindy's life was about her family, her friends and her labors.  Denim is an appropriate fabric for who this woman was....practical and pretty.  The desire to have a denim quilt seemed easy because Cindy wore a LOT of denim.  Like many of us, she had many pairs with a variety of wear.  The challenge with denim quilts is keeping them light enough to be comfortable for whatever use.  We blended the denim with brushed cotton fabrics, in colors Keith liked, and no batting to keep the project light.

You just can't believe how much denim you can pull from a mountain of jeans.  We spared the pockets and metal buttons.  Cutting the denim into rectangles for the quilt, we then spared the remnants into 5" squares, all pockets and hardware.   We have a future plan of making handbags from these elements for family members.

Partway into this section of the project, we started people on the next projects (t-shirt quilts).  Knowing that people would need a break from the tedium of cutting, sewing and clipping the denim, we had some move on and others stayed with the denim project.  The denim quilt became almost king-sized which was much to Keith's liking.  A segment of denim for a smaller throw was spared from the king-sized piece.  The remnants await some eager sewers later and they filled the size of two small milk crates.  Of course, one of our favorites was the cousin's sporting of the remaining pieces of the denim jeans.  Such fashion divas....Aunt Cindy would be proud that her humor and functionality lives on.  (Um...yes, that head-band is a tube top....we just couldn't find a good re-purpose for it....yet.  But this smart niece was using her head!)

For everyone in attendance, the facts that making this many quilts in a matter of two days is daunting for even experienced sewers and we didn't reveal that to them until we knew what they COULD do.     We figured the less they knew about "normal", the better.  Their enthusiasm was motivating.  Plus, I know these women fairly well.  When I joined the family more than 30 years ago, days of work on the farm were long and their work ethic is still daunting.  A day of baling hay or picking up rocks wasn't complete without adding in gardening, cooking, milking cows, feeding pigs and tending to the many household tasks of tending to the needs of a large, busy family. 

Like their sister Cindy, these dedicated women tackled their tasks with an earnestness that was amazing to even to die-hard sewers like Therese and myself.  They worked tirelessly for hours on end pouring their hearts into this project.   At the end of the first day, we estimated that we had accomplished nearly 2/3 of the first three quilts, the quilts for Cindy’s husband and children were the first priority. 
 Therese and I kept encouraging the group that we were so impressed with their amazing progress.  Frequently, though, we were accused of our being false optimists.  My sisters-in-law were sure that other (more experienced) sewers could have finished much more.  Therefore, I am leaving this blog as testimonial to many of you (my quilting friends) to give comment to the family at the volume of accomplishment in this weekend.

Let me say that only two of us were able to rotary cut.  We taught a couple of others to rotary cut.  However, none of them ever mastered Therese’s and my cardinal rule to rotary cutting:  ALWAYS closing the cutter after each cut.  Many of them never moved past calling the thread in the bottom of the sewing machine a “bobber”.  Most “BOBBER winding” had to be done by those of us who know machines.   For whatever they lacked in sewing techniques and terminology, they surely made up for it in tenacity and determination.

Another beautiful set of gifts flowed all around this event.  My sisters-in-law are some of the best cooks and bakers around.  They fed us all weekend.  The array of foods and their nourishment was a vital part and as pretty as the array of color in fabric and texture for  the weekend.  Their chipping in on so many levels just added to the spirit of the weekend.

There was TRULY a spirit of love and passion flowing among these amazing people.  Therese and I felt privileged to be part of this amazing outpouring of love and its manifestation of charity and generosity.

More Remembering my next post...
All the Best to You, jill

No comments: