Saturday, December 2, 2017

Frances's Beloved Quilt

This quilt was so very special for me to work on. It was originally pieced (by HAND, no less!) by a woman named Frances Rhoades. Frances was one of the wonderful women who were the backbone of the church of my childhood in Webster, Ohio. She was my Sunday School teacher, Vacation Bible School leader, 4-H adviser, and even something of a surrogate grandma. In our little country church, our congregation was close. Frances's grandkids were the same age as my sisters and I, and we often spent afternoons at her house and called her "Grandma Frances". Even many years later, if I close my eyes, I can hear her voice, I can see her hands, I can feel her hug, I can see her just like it was yesterday.

Last summer when I was visiting my family in Ohio, "Aunt Cyndie" (this would be Frances's daughter-in-law, and not actually related to me) came to visit me at my parents' house. She brought this quilt top with her. It had been discovered when their family was going through Frances's house, following her death. No one could say when it was pieced. If I had to guess, I'd say maybe 1970s. Cyndie said that her daughter Carrie had taken the quilt top home with hopes of finishing it.

A sidebar must be taken here. The Carrie mentioned above, is the original Carrie Rhoades. Some of you may know that I was also Carrie Rhoades, prior to marrying and taking my husband's last name. The other Carrie was about 6 years older than me, and with two girls of the same name growing up in a small church family, it became necessary to distinguish us from each other. Carrie babysat me and my sisters and was a cool older girl that I looked up to. So (at least in my family) she became "Big Carrie" and I became "Carrie Beth". I think I fared better in the nickname department!

So, Carrie and her teenage daughters had taken Frances's quilt home, with plans to finish it themselves, but it sat in their closet for years while they worked up the nerve and found the time to tackle this most-honored and beloved project. It was Carrie's daughters who eventually sneaked the still unfinished quilt top out of the house and passed it along to their grandma Cyndie, who brought it to me at my parents' house when I was visiting this past May. Cyndie told me she wanted it to be a surprise for her Carrie, and that she trusted me to finish it however I thought appropriate.

I felt very close to Grandma Frances while I was working on this project. I tried to use quilting motifs that would have been somewhat common during the time frame in which Frances originally constructed it. I had to fudge a little here and there, and used more modern quilting techniques to suck up areas where there was excess fabric.

I suggested to Cyndie that we let her daughter and granddaughters finish the binding, so that they could have this final moment with the piece that their grandma started so many years ago. I attached the binding with my longarm quilting machine, ready for them to wrap it around to the back side and hand-stitch it in place.

I gave this quilt all my love, and it was an honor for me to be involved in it.

1 comment:

  1. So beautiful! You surely honored her with your quilting and such a thoughtful way to include her family in completing the quilt!