I love quilting and the one in the picture was my first ever effort - a handsewn sampler quilt. I used the device of a very old quilt as a means of discovering some family history in my new novel (to be published later in 2015). Here's an extract:
It was coming apart. Hand-sewn with stitches so small as to be barely visible. She took it out of the battered old trunk and stretched it out on the bed, smoothing the surface with the palm of her hand. The fabric crinkled slightly, stiff under her fingers. It was a bit grubby – but it must have been more than a hundred years old. So pretty. The fabrics were cheap calico and cotton, in a combination of delicate shades of blues and greens. It would look perfect in the guest bedroom. Then she remembered she wasn’t going to keep the house.
The quilt would have to be repaired before she could risk laundering it. She picked it up and took it into the study, where she rummaged about on shelves and in cupboards looking for her mother’s long-neglected sewing box, then settled herself into the low armchair in front of the windows and let the autumnal sunshine wash over her. Meredith couldn’t remember the last time she’d sat down like this to do something for herself. To sew. To paint. To write for pleasure. The last year had been swallowed up with caring for her mother in the final phase of her long illness.
She’d never been much of a carer before. Perhaps it was guilt that compelled her to take on the role and do it so comprehensively. Guilt for leaving home so young. For abandoning her mother to deal with the sudden, unexplained rages of her father. Guilt for spending so many years pursuing pleasure and answering to no one. Now she had no one left to answer to.
Needle threaded, she was about to begin the repair. The quilt was a complicated design, with several different intricate patterns. She folded one of the pieces under where it had buckled up and noticed the stiffness was caused by paper templates still between the layers of fabric. If she was going to wash the quilt she’d have to remove them. She gently eased out one of the pieces – it was lightweight card rather than paper and covered in neat, old-fashioned, cursive writing in black ink, the edges ragged where the sewing needle had caught them. Setting it aside, she removed a few more pieces. Strange that they'd been left inside when the quilt was pieced together. Then it dawned on her they were part of a letter. She took the backing off the quilt and worked her way through it, extracting each paper template one by one.
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