I just got back from a wonderful visit with my grandchildren in Georgia. They had an end of the year school picnic where I was the face painter...it was really fun and I did a fabulous job if I do say so myself. Now seeing them is always a joy but this trip there was an added surprise from my aunt I haven't seen in years. Aunt Merci (her 1st hubby was Filipino and could not say Marcy so she had her name changed to the way he said it)..anyway, Aunt Merci had to put her mother in a nursing home recently. I never really knew her mother very well but I remembered her. She was a quilter and when Merci discovered my passion for the craft she gave me all of her mother's quilting stuff. BINGO! I scored big time! 

Of course I got fabric, tons of books, magazines that date back to 1989, notions, and patterns but it was the UFO's that made me feel really connected to this woman I barely remember. It was the way she had everything organized and stashed; her "quilt closet" looked exactly like mine. All of her patterns were carefully organized...even some old brown  paper bag cut outs were in envelopes with chicken scratch instructions only she can understand...but so can I.  It's been really amazing going through all this stuff. It's like Christmas where I just keep finding all kinds of goodies. Some of the books are so good I don't know which one to begin first.  Absolutely, hands down the UFO's were the best thing. As I go through them (which I've done about a million times since Saturday) I feel the energy of her through her choices and styles. I know why she picked certain colors and patterns. Some were things I've never tried like a bow tie baby blanket and a hexagon paper piecing she started....both I will be finishing and donating to St. Jude Children's Hospital. There are pieces she made but placed where you know she had no intention of using them because it was a bad idea but still...she's not throwing the one ugly bow tie piece away. I have a shoe box of those kind of blocks I've made; just some hideous things that you actually laugh out loud when you look at them. I bet other quilters keep theirs as well; we should have a "biggest mistakes ever" quilt contest one day. Can you all imagine that?  Gee's Bend gone wrong. We could later donate them to a place that they won't care how ugly they are.

 Merci tried to find a special fabric she had chosen once for her mom to make her a quilt. Her mom never got around to it for whatever reason but I finally came across the fabric she described.  It's the one thing I have to say "what was she thinking?" Maybe she asked herself the same thing which is why she never finished it...that's mostly why I end up with UFO's...some sort of quilter's block. Anyway, the pieces are cut strangely but I think I can figure out how to make something beautiful out of them. It's definitely going to be a challenge but my aunt Merci will LOVE it. I can tell that this particular fabric really caught her eye.  I think we quilters can tell a lot about each other through our bodies of work without ever meeting.  That's why quilts are so amazing to me, they're art is rich in historical matter and very telling of the times in which they were made and the people who made them. I wonder what people in the future will say when they find ours in the attics of estate sales or whatever. I bet they'll think T-shirt quilts will be a real find. lol... I laugh but what if Mozart had shirts with his concert dates on them....think about it. lol  

Merci's mom was a simple quilter who really enjoyed the old fashioned piece quilt patterns and doing them by hand. I appreciate everything about her and will enjoy all of what I inherited from her for years to come....literally. 

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Comment by Vickie Smith on November 5, 2013 at 8:23pm

Karen, just read this.  What a wonderful thing for your aunt to do.  You are right, you will appreciate everything for years to come.  This is a great story.  You should write it down somewhere where your family can see it.

Comment by rogue quilter Queen of the WIVSP on May 24, 2013 at 4:03pm
i am certain that mine will all go to charities. all the fabrics, lace, anyique notions, pin cushions, ...all. except for my grmothers tops that i will quilt and give to her grgrgrandchildren, whom she would have adored. and they her, she was so kind, creative. and so gifted with children ...especially the "busy" ones.
Comment by Sarah Spence on May 24, 2013 at 3:54pm

What a lovely story!  Sometimes I wonder/worry what will happen to my fabric treasures & UFO's, it's my sincerest hope that it will go to someone who will treasure it as I do!  I have all boys & as they aren't interested in sewing (at least not yet) I can still hope that maybe someday one of them will have a bride that appreciates the craft! In the meantime, my goal is to try to use up all the fabric in my stash and finish all of my UFO's!  Enjoy!  You honor her by caring for her treasures, the connection you now have will be memorable.

Comment by Gloria Gray Borges on May 24, 2013 at 10:27am

I am new here and read your wonderful story. How lucky for you and your aunt, to have someone in her family to appreciate her work.  Looking forward to your results in this project. Enjoy!

Comment by sue brigle on May 22, 2013 at 12:54pm

lots of fun ahead!!   lucky you!!

Comment by viki hagan on May 20, 2013 at 2:33pm

That's awesome. As far as I know there are no quilters in my family.. which is not to say there aren't people who have made quilts..there are lots of utilitarian type quilts always to be found on the beds of my grandparents and aunts and uncles.. but no one who did it as a hobby. I can't imagine how great it felt to be the one to connect with a family member in such a way. I'm looking forward to the results of your accidental inheritance and I'm sure your aunt is going to be thrilled to finally get that quilt.

Comment by rogue quilter Queen of the WIVSP on May 20, 2013 at 10:38am
what a wonderful story. wonderful read. thanks for posting this. your aunt merci is so fortunate to have w/in the family, someone like you that will adopt her mothers treasures and give them good home.
Comment by Dee Shreffler on May 20, 2013 at 10:08am
WOW. What a wonder connection with your extended family. (Fabric family tree. :) )

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