Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sewing Mends the Soul

You are a quilt
Pieces of memories
Carefully stitched together
With precious threads
Of love and joy

You swath my soul
With melodies
Of treasured yesterdays

You bring warmth
This cold, cold night
~Linda Dugger O'Rourke, 1979

This is the quilt from the poem

I just returned for a week in the homeland. Lincoln Nebraska, where I was born and went to college. I wrote this poem cuddled beneath a mosaic garden quilt lovingly handmade by my grandmother. I had that quilt in mind as the words flowed. I was also thinking about my boyfriend at another college 350 miles away. He and I have been married 33 1/2 years now!

One highlight of my trip was a guided tour of The International Quilt Study Center and Museum. It is a big building, housing thousands of quilts, mostly in storage. Only a small percentage of the quilts can be viewed at any given time. The ones we saw were incredible. 

I found the quilts of Ernest Haight most intriguing. An engineer and a farmer, Ernest made over 300 quilts in a 50 year period. Each one I examined was truly a masterpiece. Though every one was unique they reflected the period in which they were created.

Just a few quilts from my precious collection

In a quick count of the quilts I am blessed to call my own I came up with around 20. Some dating back around 70 years. The most recent are ones I made for my daughters. 

Made by a great aunt
before my mother married in 1946

My grandmother was a consummate quilter and seamstress. A quilting frame was ever present in her apartment, along with her treadle sewing machine. Her tailored garments always hung perfectly and her quilting stitches were uniform and tiny. I recognize house dresses my mother and her sisters wore in many of her quilts. They are comforting to me.

Crazy quilt I made for my daughter

I always wanted to make a quilt, but was a bit intimated by the size and my grandmother's perfectionism. I'm more fond of any quick project. I had done two or three small quilts and baby quilts and was collecting old jeans and flannel with plans to create something fun and cozy. Every day I could find an excuse to put it off. Then came September 11, 2001. Frozen by the events of the day I started cutting squares. It really is therapeutic. That quilt is worn out now, but my daughter still pulls it out to use when she's home.

A going away gift from a dear friend
created by her mother

A time to tear apart and
a time to sew together.
Ecclesiastes 3:7 

My dad (at 93, his first selfie) & me

Back home now, I'm inspired and ready to take on new projects as I treasure the old ones. What projects are you dreaming of starting? Today is a great day to begin!

Linda <><

My first full sized quilt started 9/11/2001


  1. This reminded me of the 3 quilts that i have. Two of them were made by my great grandmother; 1 for me & 1 for my parents. They are hanging on my quilt rack in our bedroom, along with an afghan that my mom knitted for me. The third quilt i received two years ago from my best friend. i call that one my sicky quilt. Most of the time it's kept on the shelf above in my closet, unless i don't feel good & then it goes to the couch with me. =)

    1. I think we all have a bit of Linus in us--there's nothing more comforting than a quilt or afghan lovingly created by friends or family!

  2. I am crazy for crazy quilts! I love yours. All the quilts in this post are beautiful.

    1. Crazy quilts are my favorite, too:)

  3. I took a series of classes two years ago to finish my first sampler quilt. I've always loved quilts and have several "memory" quilts started and many more quilt designs in my head! Lord, please give me the years to complete them!!! Thanks for sharing, Linda!

  4. What a wonderful post! I have always admired quilters and all those tiny stitches!! Arthritis keeps my sewing about nil so I really appreciate and envy :) those who can do it :)

  5. Lovely quilts! I have several cherished quilts & crochet blankets made by family members, including an old Sunbonnet Sue quilt, made by a great aunt. I have always been intimidated to try quilting, too...Maybe someday :)