Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let Me Sew: The 12 Year Love Quilt

     “Do I hear five dollars? How about ten? Who will give me fifteen? Do we have any quilters out there? Fifteen to the lady with the purple hat. Come on, folks, this sewing machine is worth more than that. Do I hear twenty? I hear twenty. How about twenty-five? Going once! Twice! Sold for twenty dollars to the man in the flannel shirt.” My ears perked up at the mention of the flannel shirt. The auctioneer must have been talking about Buddy, my husband. Sure enough, he came walking around the corner with that big, adorable grin I loved.


     Since he retired, one of our favorite pastimes was going to auctions.


     My sister, Penny, owned a food wagon she set up and ran during the sales. I worked for her at the window. Buddy liked to tag along. While I passed out Sloppy Joe’s and hot dogs, he roamed the grounds searching for deals. He was overjoyed if they gave away a boxload of stuff for a dollar or two at the end of the auction. Sometimes, he even claimed a free box full of pre-loved treasures. That put him in glory-land. Many of his best deals were sewing machines. He loved to tinker on them, but when he was happy with his repair job, he’d give the machine away to one of our kids or someone else who needed one but couldn’t afford to pay.


     I loved to sew and teach, so I decided to try my hand at giving sewing lessons. We had so many machines that each person could have used one of their own. Buddy was my first pupil. I thrived on the time we could spend together after he retired. Even when we fought, I’d rather be with him than anyone else. I remember one time when I was mad at him.


     “Honey,” he asked, “will you rub my back?”

“No!” I said.

     “Why not?” he asked as he gave me a surprised look.

“Because I’m mad at you!”

     He smiled. “Then rub it real hard.”


     We enjoyed sharing and sewing over coffee, conversation, and laughs. Buddy picked up coffee pot, coffee cup, be happy-5196072.jpgquite fast as the sewing piqued his interest. He decided he wanted to make a quilt for our daughter, Pamela. I found him surrounded by fabric, templates, and rotary cutters daily. He made that machine whiz as he whistled away the hours. Being a super patient man, he worked until he had a quilt that anyone would be proud to cozy up with. He made a tag to sew on a corner that read, “Love You Always. No Matter What.”


     We took the two-hour drive to deliver her surprise quilt. She looked at the huge package, and her eyes lit up excitedly. With trembling hands, she tore off the wrapping.


     “Wow!” she said as she ripped the paper away and examined her quilt.


    “Your dad sewed every stitch all by himself,” I said. “Didn’t he do a great job?”


     “He sure did!” She jumped up and went to hug him, then kissed him on the cheek. “Aw, Dad,” she said.

Her eyes sparkled. “It’s beautiful. I love it. Thank you.”


     Buddy settled back in his chair and beamed with a gleam in his eye and a playful grin.


     After a great visit, we headed home and back to our machines. We had such fun together, sewing side by side. Then we decided to make a quilt for our bed. We wandered the aisles at the fabric shop—so many choices. After a few hours, we had our cart loaded with a stack of ten different materials and headed for the checkout. After prewashing, ironing every yard, and cutting the strips, I started piecing it together in the Trip Around the World pattern. I had about a quarter of the top pieced together when life took over and turned our world upside down.


     Buddy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.


     Fears, tears, chemotherapy, and hospitals ruled our lives for over sixteen months. Then, with an aching heart, I called Hospice. My world stopped when God called Buddy home. All I could do was cry. No more sounds of sewing and laughter filled the rooms. Oh, I tried. I even bought a brand new, top-of-the-line Husqvarna Viking sewing machine. The thing was so fancy I had to take classes to learn how to use it. But it didn’t fill the ache in my heart. I still couldn’t make myself sew at home without my sewing partner.


     I bagged up all the sewing supplies and gave away most second-hand machines. I packed away my new Viking out of sight in the basement. But Buddy and I loved the Lord, who gave me the strength and comfort to continue. By believing that I’d see Buddy someday in heaven and taking it one day at a time, I learned to live again.


     I planned to finish our quilt, but my heart wasn’t in it. The years they passed—twelve of them.


     One day, as I was reading Ecclesiastes 3, a verse jumped out at me. “To everything, there corona, virus, pandemic-4971090.jpgis a season…A time to rend and a time to sew.” A time to sew? Although I had read that verse many times before, God spoke directly to my heart that day. My time, I had come to sew again. I dragged my new Viking out of storage, along with all the fabric, and started to sew.


     Day after day, I plugged away, missing the sound of Buddy’s whistling and his great sense of humor, which made the hours fly. I had no loving husband to share a cup of coffee with. I’d have given anything to be able to rub his back again.


     I tried to get all the blocks in the correct order so they would flow together in a diamond shape. I wanted Buddy to be proud of me. But I made many mistakes and had to rip out and redo more than I could have imagined. “Whatever you sew, that shall you also rip.” 🙂


     Finally, I was down to the last two rows. I only needed two blocks to complete the pattern and couldn’t rest until I finished the quilt. I tore the place apart, looking for enough fabric to finish the last two squares. Nothing… I found an extra piece of close material, and I used that. I’ve heard that when the Amish make a quilt, they leave one block that has a mistake because only God is perfect. They call it a “humility block.” I’m not Amish, but I had no choice. The two odd blocks set my teeth on edge.


     The top was finished. I spread it out flat and stood back to admire all my handiwork. Then, to my horror, I discovered that I had made the main center square with a color that didn’t match. The seam ripper and I got reacquainted. Again.


     Next, I was ready for the backing. We owned a queen-sized bed when we bought the material for our quilt. But since then, I have bought a king-sized bed and needed more material for the backing. I searched for fabric, knowing I’d never be able to find a match after so many years had passed.


     But I’d settle for something to match one of the blocks on the front. Surprisingly, I ran across the same material I’d bought years earlier. Ironically, it was also the same fabric I had needed for my last two mismatched blocks. I had to buy it. Then I went home, washed, dried, and pressed the fabric. After ripping out the odd two squares, I replaced them with the new pieces.


     Then I was down to putting on the borders. After watching many tutorials for instructions, I managed to miter the corners just right. Years earlier, I had bought a massive package of 10 oz. Polyester batting. What was I thinking? The quilt would be heavy, and Buddy wouldn’t be there to lend a hand. I’d have to start lifting weights just to be able to make the bed. Anyway, I unrolled the batting and laid it across the tables. It was all wrinkled, and I didn’t have time to wait for it to flatten out. You could dry the batting with a wet towel for 10 minutes. I somehow stuffed the monstrous piece in the dryer, but they didn’t mention not using heat. When I took it out, it looked like a Shar Pei dog, full of wrinkles.


     Then I read that you could use a hair dryer to smooth it out. I tried this new technique back and forth until my arm got tired.


     No, go…


     I returned to the fabric store for more suitable and lighter-weight batting. Thank the Lord, cotton batting with a low loft was on sale for forty percent off. Still, the thing was so huge that I dreaded having to fight with running it through my machine to quilt. I decided to tie it together by hand rather than using traditional quilting. About a thousand safety pins and purple ties later, I breathed a sigh of relief.


     It was none too soon; my poor hands couldn’t take another safety pin down to the last stretch. Instead of using a separate binding for the edges, I used the extra material I had purchased for the backing and brought it around the front for the binding. I sewed the binding by machine since it was only around the edges.


     I changed all the bedding and made the bed with the new quilt. After turning on the electric blanket and wanting to give it time to warm up, I headed for a quick shower. I’d even bought new pajamas in Buddy’s favorite color for me. He always said I looked great in purple. Then, I returned to the bedroom to look at my finished beauty.


     I couldn’t wait to climb in and cozy up under the covers. I wish Buddy were here to climb under the covers with me.


     But first, I grabbed my camera. As I took many photos, I could picture Buddy looking down from heaven and saying, “Well, Angel Face, it took you long enough, but you did yourself proud. It looks beautiful!”


     So, after twelve years, I finished our quilt—one last picture. I flipped back the corner of the quilt to see the unique tag I had sewn that read…


                                     “In sweet memory of my husband, Buddy. Love you Always. No Matter What!”

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