As the second day sped past, the work on the three quilts got very focused and was down to tasks that could only be handled in smaller groups. Therese had made teddy bears from some polo shirts before the event and got the cousins going on a teddy bear project. Like everything else during the weekend, no one really knew these to be tough projects because we just presented them as something fun to do. And in a matter of a few hours, teddy bears started emerging from shirts. More teddy bears were cut to go home and grow into fully cuddle-able bears for other cousins.
We even saw a bit of my family members becoming certified quilters (they started getting picky). By the second day, most of the sewers had enough skill to navigate the blocks (which were cut by those of us more experienced) in piecing. With the blocks then being seamed, each set of seams came to the top of the quilt and then needed to be top-stitched back. At this point in the process, my sisters-in-law revealed one of their most endearing and unnerving traits. There was intense focus on making sure that duplicate blocks never landed next to each other. Interesting they go from being non-experienced in quilting to perfectionists. (Therese and I are fairly sure given time we could work them out of that nasty habit.)
Introducing the auxiliary projects that nieces and nephews could enjoy something hand made for themselves as a memoir of Aunt Cindy brought a second wind to the efforts. Much beloved by family and friends, remembrances stirred happy stories. At this point, everyone was freed up to dig into the clothing, knowing that re-purposing it gave it new life. While Cindy has been gone four years, her passion lived on as she passed on the love through inspiring her family to find new inspirations.
Some shirts even were made into pillowcases. Teaching people the "burrito method" of making a pillowcase, some sleepy heads will be resting and smiling.
The denim pieces too small for the quilt were cut into 5” squares for future handbag projects. With many charm bags that I favor, this will be an easy venture to take people into for the denim squares. Keeping the hardware and pockets will add character to the bags.
The harmony of this sewing project was so akin to the spirit of our sister Cindy. She was the youngest girl in the family. Growing up, she was a quiet and studious child. She was one of the hardest working people I have ever met. She regularly took on tasks that others might have avoided and did so without complaint. But there was nothing weak and submissive about Cindy. Her strength was in her service, her generosity and her can-do attitude. The weekend of sewing was so much like her spirit. As Cindy matured, the reserve (what one might have mistaken as shyness) seemed to dissipate and revealed a sparkling persona, full of vitality and enthusiasm. People were drawn to Cindy. Energetic and a great amount of fun, Cindy was surrounded by many people who loved her deeply. Reliable and constant, Cindy was appreciated by many--friends, family and co-workers. I know she'd be very pleased with the teamwork of her family.
Were there tears? One would think the weekend would have been fraught with much distress. However, I believe that Cindy's family discovered what many of us sewers and quilters know. It is just cloth--fibers and threads woven together for warmth. However, as we unwind the purpose of clothing to make it coverings, we are simply re-purposing that which kept one warm to warm many. While there have been many tears shed over the loss of this precious and beautiful woman, this weekend was a time to celebrate and spread pieces of her life to various family members and to send an especially big hug to her husband and children. Cindy's love lives on, with many thanks to a family that worked hard to put their pain and their healing by their hands into remembrances.
If you have ever worked on re-purposing clothing, you likely know there comes a point in a project when you know you are done. When we came to the stack of sweaters, we pondered at great length until the teens reminded us that everyone needed a sweater for "Ugly Sweater Day". Whether this is a real commemoration or not, the style show that ensued was entertaining. As we sorted through the remaining pieces, we thought of things we could do. However, the tired of our minds and bodies were very telling in that we had worked through many things together in the way that people do who are seeking healing. It was a good feeling as we looked through the mountains of things completed. More than that, seeing the faces of all who took home something finished and something planned was encouraging.
Going to our homes on that Sunday night, the exhaustion wore through every muscle. However, the joy of the weekend was easy to spark perusing hundreds of photographs taken during the weekend. The pictures of Cindy’s family lovingly laboring over each project was humbling and pure grace. (There were more than 550 pictures that we compiled!) The pictures of the Cindy’s children and husband cuddled in quilts made from her clothing was enjoying watching them be embraced in Cindy’s love spread through all of us to each other and to them. When I'd put the last stitches on the binding of the quilt, I have never had such an audience of people watching me sew. Working furiously to get around this very large quilt was made a bit more nerve-wracking with people watching me until one of them told me they just had never seen someone sew that fast. My poor sewing machine must have run non-stop for that full day. The last of the quilts was laid, spread out onto a large table. The room filled with a hush and without any coaching, the two kids fell face first onto the table into an embrace with the quilt. We all felt that same deep satisfaction.
Keith shared the following with me about the quilts,
Both of the kids absolutely love their quilts!! I think the first few nights of having it on her bed were kind of hard on our daughter. After she told me that, I told her to think of it as Mommy giving her a hug all night long! So now each night when I tuck her into bed she asked me to tuck the quilt in tight so as to feel Mommy's hug.
Humbly and gratefully submitted, jill