Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Apples From a Teacher

If every quilt tells a story, this story is more like a chapter book. In 1990, my youngest child was in kindergarten so I took a part time teaching position. On my way to pick up my students from the bus, I walked by a first grade class and noticed M. reading "Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt" to her students. I stopped after school and introduced myself, telling her I was a quilter. We became friends as she helped me survive a challenging teaching assignment. A few summer mornings each year, we sat on her porch swing and talked of handwork, gardening, family, and education. Eleven years later she decided to move to a mountain valley in western Montana. She spent the next fall and winter in Montana planning and supervising the building of her straw bale home. I took care of her Lincoln home while she was away. That winter she sewed these apple blocks from a free pattern she picked up in a quilt shop in Pocatello, Idaho. When she ran out of red print fabrics, I sent her some from my stash. In the spring, she returned to Nebraska, packed up her belongings, and moved to Montana.

In 2003, she sent me the hand pieced quilt blocks. Living in a small motor home with limited space, she did what women have often done. She used materials at hand, sandpaper templates, a pencil, needle, thread, and small scissors. The stitches are even but the blocks were slightly different sized. I attached strips from my dark green fabrics to square them up. Later as I traveled to and from my parents' home at the end of my Dad's life, I stopped in Columbus, Ne. and purchased the apple print to use for sashing. Last winter, 2016, I cut sashing and machine pieced a top and backing. Since I hadn't purchased enough apple fabric to use all the blocks, I sewed six into the backing. After the holidays, I delivered the quilt top, backing, and batting, to the woman who has machine quilted my last three quilts. She is an artist with a long arm quilting machine. Last week I finished the binding and made a label for the back. I used a label M sent with the quilt blocks as well as the corner of a napkin she had embroidered with the letter M. The label lists the names of all three of us. 

Twice I have visited my friend in her environmentally friendly home in the rugged mountain setting. In her mid-eighties, she continues to live independently. Arthritis doesn't allow her to hand piece or quilt but she sews on her machine, gardens, and knits. She has a closet full of quilts and doesn't want this one. However I made the last three blocks into a table runner and will be sending that to her as a birthday gift. Teachers, we are a persistent bunch.

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.  


  1. What a wonderful history your apple quilt has! I would love to get into quilting but I don't have the patience, can't sew a straight line even if my life depends on it, and well, honestly, I'm afraid of what would happen if I started hoarding fabric the way I stash yarn. :)

  2. I know that quilts often tell stories in many ways, but yours is one of the best! It is really a lovely quilt (and table runner), and I thank you for sharing!

  3. What a beautiful quilt and beautiful story to go with it.

  4. Wow! That is a gorgeous quilt! And, I love the story that accompanies it! I am so glad you joined us!

  5. what a beautiful story and a lasting friendship over a craft. These are the stories that bind us together :) Lovely quilt and a very lovely you!!