I am grateful that years ago, I belonged to a group called the Monday Night Quilters. The town we met and thrived was Lawton, Oklahoma. We met, you guessed it, every Monday night, 7-9 pm. No matter what was going on in our lives, we somehow made time for Monday Night. For me and a few of the other ladies, Monday night was a break. Some of us home schooled. Some had small children. There were a few ladies that were retired. Some were empty nesters. Some were military wives, actually almost all.
Side note: this is the group where I met Miss Florida. Quilting brought us together, somehow, being the lucky girl I am, the quilting ties that bind, were meant to last a lifetime.
Everyone hand quilted. Some pieced by machine, yet every single one of us hand quilted. It was my first time ever working on a huge quilt in a frame with other ladies. We made it for a raffle for the church we met in. We also worked on our own projects each week. We shared magazines, patterns, fabric and family stories. We helped each other through happy and rough times. We helped each other baste quilts and quilt. We figured out sewing troubles and personal troubles. I have a million and one stories I could share from that group alone. Those ladies really helped shape the direction my quilting hobby took. To be honest, within four years, those ladies helped shape, me.
One time, we were planning a potluck, some silly girl said, “hey, let’s invite the husbands?” Everyone (except her) shouted a loud and robust, NO! It was our “secret” club. Not really….every single husband knew exactly where we were and who we were with. We just took a little break from kids and dogs and cats and husbands. It was our passion. Really, it was our life line. It somehow helped us each to breathe. I lived in Lawton for a four-year military tour. When Mr. Right got orders to move, with tears in my eyes, the quilt group were the first people I told.
In 1992, I made a small quilt called, Three Men and a Bow Tie. It is made up of bow tie blocks. It is heavily hand quilted. Each tie is made using plaid fabric. I had collected them from every new shop I was lucky enough to visit. I was a few short. Still collecting, however, the search is part of the draw for me. I love that part. While working on the quilt top during one particular Monday night, a gifted quilter in our group, well into her 80″s at that time, asked me about the fabric. I said I was collecting it from anyone, anywhere. She said, I will give you a piece. I said thank you. I was excited that next Monday, she would bring in another piece of fabric that I could use. Alta Olsen, came to me a couple of minutes later, here you go. Oh did you have that in your bag? No, I just cut off the shirt tail of the shirt I am wearing. 🙂 Really? As long as I have a working memory, I will never, ever in my life forget that moment. Alta was not a frilly, fancy person. She was a good woman. She was a baby, when her parents were “Sooners”. Yes, true story. They were some of the first settlers to race into and homestead in Oklahoma. She lived into her 90’s. She travelled to Texas and of course Oklahoma. That is it. Her husband worked on the railroad. She shared recipes and lessons. We all listened and respected her and she gave us her friendship. She took care of each of us by helping us to be better people. She bathed me in Grace, just by sharing her heart and a part of her shirt.
This quilt taught me to purchased good quality black fabric. Do NOT skimp. As you see by the picture, the “black” fabric has faded to a dull, uninspiring grey. sigh. However, I get to use this quilt over and over and over to tell the tale and teach others a lesson.
I made a label for this quilt. I was learning to put a photograph on fabric. I took three pictures of our two boys and Mr. Right when he was little, each wearing a jaunty bow tie. To be honest, I had forgotten this quilt was made as an anniversary gift to Mr. Right. I was just reminded when I looked at the label. I used all different collected shirt buttons to embellish each block.
Sometime, I will share the story of the wool American Flag quilt wall hanging that I made. It has 50 buttons. I collected all the cream-colored buttons (stars) from everywhere. This still gives me chills……………..one of those buttons is from Alta Olsen’s wedding dress.