history & philosophy · quilting · sewing

Texts & Textiles: Utility Quilts

I found this wonderful line in a book on Mary Lee Bendolph and the Gee’s Bend quilts. Like the improvisational nature of utility quilts themselves, this quote captures the tension between wanting to create something beautiful and craftsmanlike, while bearing the burden of urgent family and work needs.

Where do you feel this tension? What do you make that meets a physical need for someone you love, but also keeps your own heart from breaking?

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2 thoughts on “Texts & Textiles: Utility Quilts

  1. Not something I do on a regular basis, but it’s the first thing I thought of: when my youngest aunt had breast cancer, my mom, her other sibs, and I pitched in together to make her a rag quilt from various fun flannels. Some of the fabric even came from my late grandmother’s stash. Youngest aunt kept it with her all through chemo, surgery, and radiation, not only for physical comfort when she was cold and sick but also for emotional comfort as a token of our family’s love, which we couldn’t provide in person very often because we’re scattered all over. Thanks be to God, the treatments worked, and she’s cancer-free now, but she’ll always have that quilt!

  2. I love the idea, and the post above is an example of family understanding that the tangible feeling of a quilt brings comfort.
    I compulsively work on quilts for the part in me that needs the art. These quilts move to completion as needs come up and I have them on hand to give away. I usually don’t know who a quilt is for when I start it but I begin quilts because I must.

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