A Seamless Life: An Old Tradition Made New

No matter your age, one of the most comforting things can be wrapping yourself in a blanket. We all know that in the womb, a baby is constantly wrapped in its mother’s warmth, and once a child is born we continue this process by swaddling our precious ones. 

Often families pass down quilts from generation to generation, to carry on the bloodline and legacy of life through a material piece. In this day and age, for the most part, quilts seem to have become forgotten. Blankets can be purchased online and never thought about twice. But for those who have had a quilt given to them, or made one themselves, the sentimental value behind the tradition is understood.

Quilts are made with such history that no matter how it’s used, one is constantly flooded with sentimental thoughts. 

When my son was born he received a quilt from his father’s side of the family. Growing up I only ever had a beautiful knitted blanket, never a quilt, so I didn’t understand the big quilt obsession I heard about as a new mother. But what the heck, I thought; the quilt was cute and I wanted something for my son to grow up with. Something he could use for toddler play, then young love picnics, and then a blanket to watch his own children play with.

The thought was warming. This next thought not so much.

My son Orion, at four months, striking his monthly pose.

Eventually the bright colors, and cozy feel won me over. Every month I would take pictures that will endure the end of time. When he needed to gaze up at the world on a beautiful day, I would lay him on the quilt to enjoy the rays of sunshine. Eventually the quilt needed to be washed and so, I washed it — at a laundry wash. Being a huge blanket it couldn’t fit into any other washer, so the public wash it was.

Until one time I came back to find my baby’s quilt was gone, and my heart dropped.  

Of course it wasn’t until this happened that I realized just how sentimental quilts were. Not too long after this occurred I was making a trip to Texas, where Orion’s grandparents were located. During this trip we took an adventure to visit the family member who made Orion’s quilt. Low and behold, her old farmhouse was filled with quilts everywhere you looked. Each room had specific themes and each seemed to fit together — it was wonderful. The family member, Naomi, had a poem written by her brother, Orion’s grandfather, located near each quilt. A different story was told in the pattern and texture of each quilt and it was amazing. It was during this trip that I realized how sentimental these pieces of fabric really were. Since then I have been most aware of the history behind quilts.

When quilts are created fabric patterns and materials are chosen carefully to tell a story.

Many don’t know that quilts were used as more than just blankets: They were used as traveling beds to birth a child, or created as a symbol to represent the establishment of a home, and even hung as replacements for windows to prevent the cold from entering. No matter what it was used for, making a quilt was a communal activity. Although some of the uses have not been the prettiest, the representation of how it was used was unique and warming, and is an art nearing death.

No matter what season of ‘mom life’ you are in, you will always be able to appreciate this skill and quilts. In Knoxville there are many sewing shops where you can start learning this new skill: Stiches ‘n’ Stuff Fabric, Pappy’s Quilting Place, Mountain Creek Quilt Shop, Smoky Mountain Quilt Emporium, Midsouth Sewing and Fabric, and Gina’s Bernina Sewing Center. Feel free to reach out if you want to connect with fellow quilters in the area.

Some traditions are best laid to rest; others bring a deep sadness at the thought of extinction. That’s where quilting stands. Living in the deep South quilts are an appreciated finish. If you are looking to start a new hobby, why not try quilting? To be able to create a sentimental piece for your home that will be used to the end of time, is priceless. It will be looked at for many generations to come.  

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