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Getting to the Heart of Quilting

by Gail Kittleson

Quilts speak comfort to me, though my creative gifts definitely lie elsewhere. I’m reworking a novel right now, and my heroine’s mother sent a hand-stitched quilt with her on the Oregon Trail. Meta, from a rural Iowa German community, commits herself to Garrit, ten years her senior, and his Wyoming Territory dreams.

In their wagon train, Meta meets a wonderful new friend headed for The Dalles, Oregon, and together they face unspeakable loss on the trail. In the lavender-scented folds of her mother’s quilt, my heroine finds comfort.

The pattern? Tulips in a Basket—what a cherished gift. And even more so because her mother used Papa’s trousers to fashion the baskets—Papa, who died when Meta was a little girl.

tulip quilt

A few years ago, my husband prepared for his second twelve-month-plus deployment to Iraq, so I decided to do something for myself. A friend offered to make a quilt for cold winter night snuggling, and one day in the fabric store, she taught me the ins-and-outs.

All I wanted was yellow, for cheer, but she said, “You must choose a contrast.” When no other color struck me, and I re-emphasized my longing for yellow, we went with shades and textures. In the end, she liked the results with the Garden Lattice pattern. I edited her memoir in exchange for her quilting, and voila!

gail with quilt

Okay, that IS me, with my hair longer and doing its natural thing …

My mother-in-law, nearly ninety, still quilts. I so enjoy her lovely creations—such a lifelong, worthwhile vocation. Although I’ll never create a lovely quilt, I admire them and the patient skill they require.

I wonder, has anyone out there completed a quilt in either of the two patterns mentioned here?


gailAbout the Author:

Gail Kittleson has enjoyed quilts for decades, though her sewing skills leave a great deal to be desired. Her favorite thing about quilts is their history and the comfort they bring people, and she uses that aspect in several historical women’s fiction novels. You can learn more about Gail and her debut novel at her website.