Quilts, Both Fictional and Real

Hi, everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I hope you all are having a great start to 2022.

Today I want to talk about my first foray into the world of Amish Romance, Her Amish Wedding Quilt and then segue into recounting a few personal tidbits.
The book opens on the morning of Jan 1, the first day of a new year, and Greta Eicher is filled with thoughts of the bright and hopeful future she pictures for herself. She’s positive it will all come about in this new year. Of course, since this is a romance novel, things don’t work out quite as Greta imagined—in fact the whole New Years day ends in disaster for her.

Greta has an avocation to fall back on, though, while she licks her wounds—she’s not only the co-owner of a quilt shop but she is also an artist who creates breathtaking quilting designs. And it is in focusing in on her craft that she is able to heal, move forward and eventually open herself up to real love. I got so into her story that I actually created Greta’s heart & dove stitch design that plays a part in the big resolution of the story.

While I’m not nearly as talented as Greta, I did actually make a quilt once myself. It was over 40 years ago, back before I had the happy distractions of kids and a writing career. I don’t even remember what triggered the urge but I decided I would teach myself how to make a quilt and that, once I completed my first one, I would gift the masterpiece to my mother for her birthday.

So I bought a bunch of how to books (this was before the internet and YouTube videos) and carefully selected a pattern and methodology. Back then I was making most of my clothes and had a large pile of fabric scraps. So one of the things that went into my selection of a pattern was to find something that would allow me to use those and not require that I go out and purchase a lot of new material. When I came across the Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern I knew I’d found just the thing. And a bonus was finding a version that allowed me to tackle it in a ‘quilt as you go’ method.

I did go on to make that quilt and give it to my mother who still uses it in one of her guest rooms to this day. But I’d waaaaayyy underestimated the amount of time it would take me to finish it.  Instead of giving it to her for her birthday (October) that year it became a Mother’s Day gift the following year. I’ve included a photo of the finished product. I folded it over so you can see the actual Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern on the front, and the mixed hexagon pattern on the back.

As it turns out, that was the one and only quilt I ever made (remember those ‘happy distractions’ I mentioned? Well they came along soon after).

My mom, who was a very talented seamstress (she made ALL of our clothes when I was growing up), was not a quilter at the time. But in a funny happenstance she made friends with some ladies who were part of a quilting group a few years later. She joined them and started quilting herself. She became both talented and proficient in the art. In addition to quilts the group made for charity auctions, she made quilts as gifts for many friends and family members, including her 5 kids and 13 grandchildren. Each of us cherish them for the treasures they are. Here are a few shots of some of her creations, including a quilted tree skirt she made for me that I use every year.

Unfortunately, like me, Mom has put up her quilting supplies. But the body of work she created is marvelous and treasured by those who received pieces of it.

Have you ever challenged yourself to learn a new skill that was outside your wheelhouse? What was it and how did it turn out? Leave a comment concerning that or on what you thought of my post to be entered in a drawing for a copy of any book from my backlist.

 

Jodi Thomas: Quilter of Words & Book Giveaway

My new novel, MORNINGS ON MAIN, is about a quilt shop in a small town called Laurel Springs, Texas.  Since I don’t quilt some people might think the setting strange for me, but they don’t know my family.

 My grandmother was born in a covered wagon and I’m sure there were quilts surrounding her.  My mother quilted all her life, even after she’d lost the names of her children to Alzheimer’s, she quilted.  Both of my sisters quilt. (See picture of mother’s quilt with books on top.)

 In a very real way the history of our family is woven into the squares of a hundred years of quilts.  So, setting a story in a quilt shop made sense.

 I also wanted to weave into this small town story the fact that it’s not so important where you live your life sometimes, but how you live it.  I think sometimes people think if they live in some exciting place like Paris that they somehow live a richer, bigger life.  Sometimes when I’m traveling people ask me, ‘You live in Amarillo.  Why?’  

If they only knew…

When I first started writing, my husband knew how much I loved this Lone Star Quilt my mother made.  So he went to an artist in town and said simply, “I’ve got two questions for you.  One, can you put this quilt and my wife’s books in a painting?  And, two, can I afford it?”

Arvis Stewart must have laughed, but he said,  “We’ll make it work.”That Christmas when Tom gave me the painting, I cried. (See picture of painting Tom gave me. My student intern Nicole McGee is holding it.)

 Early settlers made quilts from scraps and flour sacks so they could keep their family warm.  Pictures of early picnics, wagon beds and clotheslines often show quilts, but we can’t see the colors.  Yet I know that those quilts must have added a great deal of color to their lives.  Now, those quilts, some worn and over a hundred years old still add not only color to my life, but also a source of ideas for books.

 Step into MORNINGS ON MAIN and fall in love with the people of Laurel Springs lives and see their beautiful quilts in your mind.  When my mother read my first book, she said, “Jodi, you quilt with words.”

 I hope you will stop by and visit with me about your quilts, and I would love to see a picture. One lucky winner will be drawn to receive a copy of MORNINGS ON MAIN. (Giveaway guidelines apply).

 

Here’s where you can purchase Mornings on Main

Amazon

B&N