Thursday, August 9, 2007

raindrops and whiskers...

the finished quilt top.

one of my quilt projects has been working with a wonderful group of people from an area nursing home. a friend of mine is a physician at the facility and during a visit to a facility out of state he learned about a ceremony of closure and affirmation that this facility conducts after one of it's residents passes on. he came back to cleveland filled with a desire to start something similar at the facility where he works. up until then this nursing facility was not doing anything special in the event of a resident's death. my friend p is part of a committee at the nursing home to help enhance the sense of community at the facility. he thought this committee was a natural place to introduce this idea of his and see if he could generate some interest among his colleagues. needless to say everyone thought it was a terrific idea.

early this year p asked if I was interested in helping out on a project to develop a ceremony or 'rite of passage' in the event of someone's death. p knew I was very familiar with the nursing home since before I said adios to 'working for the man' I worked at the hospital that the nursing home is part of. one aspect of my job entailed coordinating and supervising the resident physicians educational experiences at the facility (I was also was quite fond of joining in during the holiday caroling. in fact for years I've felt that I was part of the nursing home family). p thought my background with the place and the fact that I'm a quilter and an applied sociologist would make me a good resource for the group. when he asked if I would be interested in helping out, I leaped at invitation.

in january I began to meet with the committee. over the course of a couple months we met. I discussed some fundamentals about quilting and also shared what the overall goal was for the quilt. we developed a basic plan. the group decided that since no one had any sewing experience we would choose a very simple quilt design. the group wanted to make a quilt that had some meaning for the people who lived and worked at the facility. one aspect of our plan was that the staff would survey the residents regarding 'their favorite things,' after the results were tabulated and analyzed the staff would scour fabric shops for remnants which captured and represented these things or concepts.

once the design was decided on and the fabrics gathered the committee met one saturday morning in march and had a sew-a-thon. we set up the main activity room as a work room. several sewing machines were brought in along with an ironing board, and cutting tools. I gave instructions on using the rotary cutter and the importance of making sure everything was cut uniformly and seams were consistent and even when it came time to start constructing the blocks. after the blocks were made, I volunteered to bring the blocks home. the plan was that I would sew all the blocks together with simple sashing strips. unfortunately things don't always go according to plans! oh well, that is life! as my friends and family can attest one of my favorite sayings has long been "adapt or die" - simple as I thought the blocks would be to construct they were not uniform. while the goal was to have a simple square inside four triangles of equal size, I found I was faced with having blocks that neither had uniform squares inside nor were these squares (or rectangles) surrounded by equal triangles. out went the idea of sewing the blocks together with sashing strips!

however things were far from lost. the goal of course was the same - I just had to come up with a plan to have the final blocks be of uniform size and sew them all together. having just finished a few quilts that were informed by the very traditional log cabin design I decided that sewing together two 'frames' around the slightly askew blocks would work. in addition to the 'favorite thing' fabrics the committee had settled on three colors to be used in the quilt, the colors are the colors of the larger institution that the nursing home is part of. unfortunately each block had to be customized and hence the putting together the top took me a great deal longer than I had initially anticipated.

with traveling, my work, and summer all 'getting in the way' I must say it was late july before I had the quilt top finished. and because of summer I haven't been back to meet with the committee to tell them what I had to do. I did get word to my friend p and told him I had to modify the initial plan in other words I had to adapt or the quilt would die.

the group after our saturday sew-a-thon!

one member of the group providing a little sewing instruction.

detail of blocks - one friend remarked it's evocative of the gee's bend quilts. wow that's pretty far out!


Lazy Gal Tonya said...

ooh, I love how you got them to all fit together. I'm not surprised you had so many that didn't fit the size requirements - I myself am inept at sewing diamond in a square. something about those darn triangles. If you ever do it again and want them consistent, just make the triangles an inch bigger than they need to be and then cut all the blocks down to the same size. I like how you had to fit them together much better though. more character.

kimy said...

excellent advice - with this project the other problem were the squares! they weren't always squares...but it was important to have the community (which consisted ofnon-sewers not to add non-quilters) have ownership....thanks!