A Quilt by Any Other Name
April 27 started with a bang of thunder and ominous skies. Weather forecasters called for epic storms and the highest chance of tornadoes ever. It was a week and a half before graduation at the Univ. of Alabama and one of my best friends has a daughter, Rebecca, who was graduating summa cum laude. That type of achievement called for a quilt, so I sketched out a design that incorporated the houndstooth that is a symbol of the Univ. of Alabama, but pieced in a graphic, modern, setting. Rain and storms meant it would be a good day to spend inside sewing in order to have the quilt finished by graduation day.
Or, so I thought. It was almost noon time. The top was finished and the quilt was pinned and ready to be quilted. Quilting had just gotten started when the weather radio and local tornado sirens started blaring and the sky turned black. I left the machine and headed to the basement with our 13 year old English Setter, Ginger and before we got there, the power went out. One of the first waves of tornadoes had come close to our local high school and already taken down trees, power lines, and homes.
The next 8 hours were spent in and out of the basement, listening to a battery operated radio that attempted to warn people to go to safe places as approximately 300 tornadoes hit the northern half of our state including this massive one that hit Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama.
Everything else took second place as we tried to check on family and friends, but cell phones worked only intermittently and land lines went out soon afterwards. The next day, the extent of the devastation and loss of life became apparent, including 6 students from the University. The University cancelled finals and postponed graduation until August leaving seniors grateful to be alive, but feeling a little unsettled about the abrupt end to their college experience.
For about 5 days, most of our area had no power. That meant, no hot water, no refrigeration, no lights, little or no phone service of any kind, no tv news, etc. But, that was nothing to complain about compared to what others suffered. For those 5 days, the quilt sat in the machine with the first two inches of quilting stitched.
And then, the power came back on. I love making quilt tops, but when it comes to the quilting, I’m a “modern, minimalist, (read lazy)” quilter. The circumstances around this quilt changed that and I kept quilting and quilting without losing patience. It is a combination of straight line and free-motion quilting and in a small section of the quilt, there is a tornado-like spiral quilted in as a reminder of the day that changed lives.
Graduation and the party to celebrate were supposed to be last weekend. Rebecca’s party was going to be a vintage Hollywood themed party, so I originally named this quilt the “Film Noir” quilt since it is primarily black and white. But, on second thought, it could have been called the “Dark and Stormy Night” quilt, or the “EF-5″ quilt representing the tornado strength.
The party was delayed for a few weeks and graduation for a few months, but Rebecca has her quilt now and I hope it brings her as much joy as it gave me to make it for her.
If you would like to know how I made this 60 x 60 inch quilt, here’s a link to a pdf tutorial: Film Noir Quilt pattern
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