Friday, December 23, 2011

The original

Twenty-some years ago, my friend Mrs. Kaneko moved into a newly built house. At the time, Mrs. Kankeo was helping lead a Bible study with some kindergarten mothers and when she built her house a group of us decided to make her a New Testament quilt. The original patterns were from Sandra Shigeno, but we arranged the blocks differently, added Mrs. Kaneko's favorite Bible verse etc. Mrs. Furui, Mrs. Okutomi and I took charge of the project and many of the ladies made blocks for the quilt. When the blocks were collected, we three "experienced" quilters put the quilt together. In those days we were exclusively hand piecers and hand quilters and the finished quilt was simply quilted around the blocks and left slightly puffy. Mrs. Kaneko, who knew nothing about patchwork or quilting was overjoyed with her quilt and has had it hung on her wall in her living room for the last 20 years. Every time I visited Mrs. Kaneko (and I visited a lot over 20 years) I would look at the quilt and think,

"We really should have quilted that. Someday, when I have some time I may just take the quilt home and quilt it."

And over the years the quilt has faded, collected dust and stains, and warped out of shape. And to be perfectly honest, it wasn't in such great shape to begin with.

(In 1992 I guess I took the picture because I'm not in here... Can you spot Mrs. Furui sitting on the floor at the left with a child in her lap? Mrs. Kaneko is next to her and to the right of Mrs. Kaneko is Mrs. Okutomi. And there is smiling Leiya on the far left! She was about three!)

Mrs. Kaneko is moving in March. She and her husband will be living in a completely different part of Japan. If there was ever a time to get her Bible quilt quilted, now is the time! I took it home with me the other day, washed it up and then took it to Mrs. Furui's house on Thursday to get her advice.

Mrs. Furui took one look at the quilt and gasped.

"Did we really make this? It is terrible! The seams don't match, the lattice is warped. The colors are pretty blah (even considering that it has faded quite a lot), the border is wrinkled! This is OUR work?!"

There wasn't much positive that any of us could say about this quilt.

"But Mrs. Kaneko has cherished this quilt for the past 20 years. She's given me permission to fix it up as I like... What do you think?"

Mrs. Furui and I have plotted out a plan for adding a little life to this quilt and fixing up some of the most obvious boo-boos. I want to use the original blocks (even though they don't seem to be uniform in size) but take out the faded and stained lattice and border. And Mrs. Furui will help me quilt in all the blocks... unlike the original quilt... I have until March to get this finished!

I've never remade a quilt before! Stay tuned!

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