A few weeks ago I finally finished a quilt that I had underway since last fall - it is a memory quilt in honor of a man named Tom. I have made a few memory quilts - which I think of as healing quilts - using the clothes of the person who has passed away.
I never had the honor or privilege of knowing Tom - but after corresponding with people who loved him, not to mention spending so much time with the clothes he wore, I feel as though I came to know him. He was a man I would have enjoyed knowing and a person I would have liked to have as a friend.
I am very proud of this quilt as it presented a couple new challenges which I think I was able to meet. When one takes on the task of making a quilt out of clothes, one never knows what type of clothes one will receive. Tom was a man who had many interests in life - one of his interests was motorcycles - but not just any motorcycles, but Harleys. The box of clothes I received consisted of many, many Harley-Davidson t-shirts and several other work and dress shirts in addition to work pants and jackets. The the latter, pants and jackets, I did not use - I asked my client if she or her sister wanted the clothes back - they didn't and so these clothes were donated to charity.
I filtered and sorted though the t-shirts and chose shirts that were in the best shape and had designs that weren't too redundant and would work well together - and represented the regions that Tom traveled to. I used all of the non t-shirt shirts and tied the patterns and blocks together with plain taupe cotton fabric. I asked which color/colors would go with Tom's widow's home - and the answer was neutral colors, specifically taupe.
The quilt is large enough to fit a double bed - and consists of a variety of traditional blocks - the most prevalent block is the flying geese pattern which symbolizes both Tom's love of traveling about on his bike and his recent flight to 'go home to God."
After I sent Tom's quilt to his widow - I heard back from his widow's sister, who commissioned the piece. The quilt was well received and in an email I received was the following, which really touched my heart:
We sat with it on my kitchen table tonight just admiring it. I know it must have been hard to work with the fabrics given but the patterns and fabric pieces you artfully chose for it actually fit Tom spot on. He would have loved it as well.
The statement that makes my heart sing is that the quilt fits Tom spot on and that he too would have loved it.... as his clothes once held his body, it is my hope that perhaps the quilt will holda bit of Tom's spirit and that the quilt will grace the life of those who loved him most and bring a bit of comfort as well....
Among the words stitched along parts of the quilt is the following stanza from a Robert Frost poem that Tom's widow selected as characteristic of the man she loved:
There never was any heart truly great and generous, that was not also tender and compassionate.
Like I said I would have enjoyed knowing Tom and to have had the honor of calling him my friend - in a way, I guess I do know him.......