The meaning of a quilt. I frequently hear, “a quilt is like a warm hug.” And I’m here to tell you it is. I’ll attempt to explain how and why that is and other intrinsic feelings one gets with a quilt.
I don’t have quilters in my family history, which I am frequently bummed about. A quilt can be a portal to the past and long-gone loved ones. It triggers memories. Stories and feelings that you connect to that quilt. And they can be completely different feelings from, say, a sister or a husband. It all starts with a memory. Quilts reach deep into your heart and bring out much more than time, place, and facts. Wow, I went deep, fast.
As I think about what I want to write about the meaning of a quilt, although I feel strongly about the subject and the desire to make quilts, it’s tough to describe why. So I’m going to go back to my statement above. A quilt brings back memories and the same memories differently for each person. So keep in mind that this is what quilts mean to me.
I pulled out my favorite quilt and wrapped it around myself as I was writing. I’m focusing on the feelings I get as I pull it around me and then take it off. Imagine my husband watching me as I sit down at the computer with my quilt in the middle of the day, and it’s 80 degrees outside, saying to myself “the meaning of a quilt.“ Too funny, but it’s working.
This is going to be difficult. I’m going to start with how it feels. It is comfortable and soft. It fills the nooks and crannies of my arms. Then, of course, it is warm. I know it’s the “comfortable” part that makes it special. Is it physically comfortable, or does it feel comfortable because of how I feel about the quilt? It could be both.
MEANING OF A QUILT – STORY 1
Last year, I looked at a quilt that I was asked to evaluate for repairs. It was made by Grandma. It had indeed been used and loved, and it was evident by the conversation I was having with the Client that it was lovingly used. The kids in the family were adults now but still valued and fought over the quilt. The quilt had many, many holes. I can only imagine the memories and feelings toward the quilt since most of the holes were from the fabric wearing, not from tears.
MY MOST MEANINGFUL QUILT
I will briefly tell you about my most precious quilt. For me, the meaning of the quilt isn’t who made it for me or who’s quilt it was, and I inherited it. I had made the quilt myself. I started to simply make a red (my favorite color) quilt. I picked up pieces of fabric everywhere I visited. It took many months, maybe over a year.
As I planned the quilt, I thought about my Mom because her favorite color was also red. She had passed away only a few short years prior. I decided to create the quilt in her honor. In her later years, she had a lot of lavender clothing, more so than red. Although I intended to make the whole quilt with reds, I altered the design and added purple to the back. And I added an accent of purple in the front. As I put the quilt together and quilted it, I thought of my Mom often.
I call the quilt Red Sentiment. After 4-5 years, all I need to do is look at the quilt, and thoughts of my Mom come to me. I see the lavender sweater she always wore and kept in her hall closet. I often pulled it out of the closet for her.
As you read my story, have you realized that it is not the quilt that is the treasure. Instead, the quilt is the trigger of the memories, and thus by association, it turns into a sentimentally valuable item. That’s true with most material things that are meaningful.
I’m not saying you need to learn to quilt and dedicate a quilt to a loved one or an event. I am saying that the quilt’s meaning develops as it is associated with people and events. It’s the association. When you have several of those experiences with quilts, the quilts do start to take on a value in and of themselves because you recognize they have such remarkable abilities to trigger memories.
Two more stories to share. One that enabled the couple to share experiences and the other story of someone looking to a quilt to be the messenger of memories.
MEANING OF A QUILT – STORY 2
The first story is of a couple; the husband is in the military. The wife met him several years after enlisting. The quilt created was an anniversary gift for him of many of his t-shirts through time, high school, and military. I am not going to do the story justice. Still, when he received the quilt on their anniversary, he spent the time walking through memory lane for himself and her, who had not lived those experiences with him. She sent me a note that listening and learning about all those memories was so significant, and the new moment the gift created was impactful. The quilt was immediately so meaningful that they included it in a family picture. Goosebumps!
MEANING OF A QUILT – STORY 3
The second story is about a, I’m going to say, mature gentleman. I never actually met him. His daughter was about to have her first child. I don’t know and wouldn’t share details, but getting to this point has been challenging. The whole family was cautiously elated. The Client had an accident earlier in life and was not in good health. He wanted to make sure his grandchild got to know him whether he was around or not. So he asked me to create a t-shirt quilt for the baby. Shirts from different phases of his life were all included. The shirts would tell part of the story, and relatives would fill in others.
I was most affected by the fact that the family all came together to make this happen for him. Remember, he was not in good health. His sister was the person that communicated with me. I saw and heard from 4-5 people throughout the process. First, someone drove to Ohio to find a shirt that “needed” to be in the quilt. Next, someone else dropped off the second package of shirts. Yet another person made the financial transactions. Finally, someone else picked up the quilt. I’m holding back tears as I write this.
MEANING OF A QUILT – SUMMARY
Those quilts will be so impactful. The significance will continue to grow, and the hugs will intensify. The meaning of each quilt is only to the people that it affects. To others, it is just a warm blanket.
It’s almost as if quilts have powers. Powers not only to warm you on the outside but also warm you inside. Make your quilts meaningful. Use them, share them and create new loving, comforting memories that potentially can outlive you.
Let’s start your t-shirt quilt today.
Snuggle Up with a Quilt.