So many times, I’ve come across folks who are terrified of actually using their quilts. Now, while I do understand some quilts are award winning, heirloom, show pieces, for many their quilts have been made or purchased for them by a loved one. Trust me when I say, they didn’t make that quilt or purchase that quilt with the intention that you’d tuck that precious creation behind glass to be stared at. They intended for you to use it. How you use it is up to you, but please don’t be afraid to do so. The possibilities for using it are endless and, as far as I’m concerned, no idea is out of bounds when it comes to creative ideas regarding the use of it.
How I use it? I know you might be asking yourself that very question. And the answer is, yes, how you use it. Quilts aren’t just good for covering up on a chilly afternoon with an engaging book and cup of tea. They aren’t just meant to be draped over the bed to be peeled of carefully before going to bed, or displayed across a rack, either. Quilts can and should be used in a wide variety of ways.
When I was a little girl, I can remember in the spring and in the fall, our gramma would often pack a picnic lunch and take us little gals out for a stroll through the woods. We’d sometimes end up at the bottom of the holler where a dry creek bed was and a fantastic hill that was good for sliding down when covered with leaves. I can remember in vivid detail the musty smell of the decaying dead fall as we’d whisk down it, usually tucked between the legs of our mommas, squealing in delight. These treks into the wilderness were such adventures! Sometimes we’d find special trinkets to carry back; leaves, twigs, moss covered rocks. Sometimes we’d be out mushroom hunting and the next day we’d have fresh fried mushrooms for our lunch. We’d always see some type of wildlife. And there was always that packed picnic to nourish us. That picnic was most usually set out on an old quilt. One that was normally considered too ratty to be used as a bed cover any longer.
Somehow over the years, I came to be in possession of one of those ratty old relics. I’ve toted it around throughout my adulthood, overseas and through several states. It’s hosted many a picnic on the sands of Onslow Beach. It’s been my comfort during the long deployment cycles when my husband was away on business. I’d curl up under it, sometimes on our sunporch with a cup of coffee in hand and stargaze, knowing that half-way around the world my husband could see the same sky I could see, although while mine was dark, his was sunny. I also knew he’d be curled up at times under the quilt I’d made for him to take with him, a small creature comfort from home. I’ve never been afraid to use that old quilt, even in as bad a shape as it is. Truth be told, it could be repaired, but I prefer it ratty and worn. It speaks to the use of it and all the memories embedded in the weave of its fabric. At some point, it will probably be too worn to use at all anymore, and at that point, I might consider stashing it away. That day has not yet come. Right now, it’s draped over my office chair.
No, I’ve never been afraid to use my quilts, and to be certain I have many. Some are newer, some are embroidered, some are patch work. Some are patterns I have no idea the name of. One such older quilt I have is a patch pattern made from clothing I’m sure my mother and her siblings may have worn. I’m sure gramma could have told me where each piece came from, but it’s far too late for me to take it to her now and pay attention where I should have years ago. I’ve carried this one over several states, too, and it’s had many uses. One use I found for it simply appalled one of my neighbors at one point. We were living in base housing aboard Camp Lejeune and I was hosting a holiday meal as I often did in those days. It was nothing for me to have upwards of twenty-five or more single troops, married senior enlisted and their families, and whoever else needed a place to enjoy fellowship and home-cooking. When one of my neighbors walked in and discovered by table dressed in an antique quilt with an overlay of lace, a lovely bouquet adorning the center, she cringed. She insisted we needed to take it off because I was running the risk of something getting spilled on it.
And? So what if something does get spilled? That’s what stain remover and the washing machine is for, as far as I’m concerned. The quilts my gramma gave me weren’t meant to be tucked away behind glass and stared at. She meant for me to use them and cherish them. For me to have a piece of her on my holiday table was something special. It was something I wanted to share with my guests.
After some amount of explaining and reassuring that all would be well and the quilt was in no danger of being ruined because even if we did make a stain it wasn’t just a stain, it was a memory, my neighbor acquiesced and the table-scape remained intact. As we were eating, I caught glances of her touching the stitching between bites or looking especially hard at some piece of fabric or other, probably wondering where it came from, what that piece of fabric’s purpose was before it was a patch quilt piece.
Friends, don’t be afraid to use your quilts. Get creative with them! Share with me and my other followers and readers in what unconventional ways you’ve used some of yours.