Sunday 12 May 2013

Melanie's Quilt Story

It’s Saturday night! Yes, usually you would see my sewing machine, in a dimly lit room, fabric slipping through the feed dogs and a beer at the ready. Well tonight I am visiting my hubby in New York, and I have left my machine behind (the husband and I are both wondering how I will make it through the week). Instead of drunken seams I would like to tell you a great story. A story about Melanie and her quilt.

I first met Melanie in 1995 (dear god I was only 20!). I was fresh out of university and together we turned a shell of a building into a home for some of Nova Scotia’s seniors. That job was a turning point in my career, and it would have never happened without Melanie’s leadership, support and faith.

Over the years we have kept in touch, Facebook has made it fun and easy! I was so pleased recently when Melanie told me that seeing my quilt pictures on FB and reading my blog inspired her to get a treasured quilt out of the closet. In her words “I mean, what was I saving it away for? It means more to me than it ever will to anyone else so I better get using it. LoL”

 The quilt was made by her grandmother Agnes Livingston Waye sometime in the mid to late '50s in Sydney Mines Nova Scotia. Some fifty years later I was amazed at the brightness of the fabric in the Dresden plates, and the sashing, which now looks faded, Melanie remembers being bright pink as a kid. Agnes would make all of the children’s dresses and when they outgrew them they became quilts!

A little more of the story from Melanie “She organized many quilting bees for the Anglican church in Sydney Mines. The frame was set up in our parlour which was never used except for special occasions so they could leave their work between meetings. As each quilt was finished, the Ladies Auxiliary would then sell tickets on each quilt at their spring or Christmas fairs. Great money maker for the church:-) If there wasn't a church quilt on the frame, there was one of her own.

Gramma taught many of those ladies how to quilt. She learned from her mother, Sarah Livingston who quilted out of necessity. There was no money for wool blankets because she had 9 children and was widowed early. Can you imagine that-with no way to earn a living! I think about her situation when I start to complain about some insignificant "first world" problem.”

Look at that quilting! Love the design
A couple of things came to mind as Melanie and I virtually chatted about her Gram’s quilt. Firstly, I am glad I use and encourage others to use quilts that I make. I think they take on even more meaning when they are lovingly used. Secondly, I love that traditional patterns, like dresdens, can still find their way into modern design. I think I would be really sad if we lost all of the tradition of those ladies who had frames set up in their parlours and supported their families and communities through their sewing.

A great example of a traditional dresden reinterpreted
Lastly, I am so proud to be part (if not a very new part, relatively speaking) of Maritime quilting. If you ever have a chance to check out the book Old Nova Scotia Quilts, or the travelling quilt show that goes with it, just do it! The history is amazing and the quilts are amazing, whether you want to make a traditional design, or get some inspiration for a modern pattern.

Thank you Melanie for sharing your quilt story. I hope you are enjoying the quilt on your bed, and thanks to your Gram for making something beautiful!



1 comment:

  1. Thank you Adrienne for telling my quilt story. I'm thinking about that wonderful Leon Dubinsky song performed by The Rankins - all Cape Bretoners. Remember the line, "we rise again in the faces of our children". Well, my Gram is rising again through this quilt story:-)