Remembering My Sister in the Hand Piecing of a Quilt Top

The steroid shot appears to be working wonders on the tendinitis in my shoulder. While I still have pain, it is muted from just a couple days ago and I am able to hand sew again without worry.

2014 Graduation Quilt in Blues and Greys

2014 Graduation Quilt in Blues and Grays

I began this quilt with pre-cut 2 1/2″ wide strips. I began sewing the strips together as I sat at my sister’s sick bed last March. When I returned home, I put this aside so that I could finish the quilt I was working on for one of my daughters.  (See the last posting for a look at that quilt.)

I finally returned to this quilt top and began putting the lengths of strips I had sewn together. Another break to go back to my sister’s bedside – in the hospital this time. She passed away a couple of weeks ago. Our younger sister, a wonderfully talented hand and machine quilter, took some of our older sister’s dresses when we said goodbye and headed to our separate homes. I look forward to seeing the quilt she makes from the dresses.

I had the opportunity to take some of the dresses, too, but I decided not to. I don’t think of her wearing the loose house dresses she wore in recent years, confined to a wheelchair and later her bed. I think of the beautiful tailored shirts and skirts, the vibrant jewel toned dresses, the crispness of the cuffs… the clothes I grew up with her wearing. She was 14 years older than I (different mothers) and I looked up to her professional, crisp, elegant look. None of those clothes remain to claim, of course, and they wouldn’t be great material for a quilt anyway.

When I returned home, I felt vaguely that finishing this quilt in progress was going to be a sad reminder of our loss: I was wrong. As I measure, pin and begin to hand sew the borders and pieces together, thoughts of conversations with my big sister drift through my mind. I think of things I’d like to phone her to laugh about together – the strange conversation with a stranger in Target, the stupid thing I read on the Internet today. There is a little sadness at the realization that the phone call will never again be made but the memories of past phone calls, of shared box wine and laughs sitting in her living room, the trip to Fiesta in Santa Barbara she and her mother took me on as a teenager, they warm my heart and my needle glides smoothly through the fabric.

My thread isn’t knotting as often as usual. My needle has remained sharp and shiny. I miss her but I am at peace: grateful that my sister’s MS can no longer torture her with its many pains and indignities. Today I sew the last length of dark grey/black border and finish the quilt top. Then it will be time to layer my quilt sandwich and begin the process of finishing my work. This is the last quilt I will button quilt before beginning my first real hand quilting project. I am glad the colors are soothing and comforting. The quilt is intended as a high school graduation gift. I hope the recipient finds it soothing after late nights studying at the University library in the fall.


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