This week's guest post for Teach the One 2 Sew comes from Jina Barney of Riley Blake Designs! Keep reading to see how sewing has touched her life and how she was able to share that love of sewing with others.
Many years ago I had a friend share with me that she was diagnosed with cancer. Her last wish was for me to make each of her 5 children a quilt from her clothes. This would be her last earthly gift to them.
When she told me there was no rush, I assumed I had some time. I went to her home and as she crawled to the closet I realized how quickly she was deteriorating. Her daughter pulled clothes from the closet that she wanted used in the quilts. I took garbage bags home filled with clothes thinking that I would have time to think about this project.
A week later I got the phone call. Jill had passed away. At first I was shocked that it happened so quickly. Upon hearing the news of her death I knew I had to make those quilts. I was working full time, so I started calling friends and making assignments. I had someone collecting sayings and memories about each child. I had women cutting pieces for the star blocks and more women cutting pieces for the heart blocks. I had women who had never sewn before show up at my house and ask what they could do to help. I had women pouring in from all over our town and the neighboring towns offering their services to sew and help make these quilts. News was spreading and women were filling my home, learning how to embroider the words and sayings on the borders that would surround the blocks. We sewed through the night for 4 days.
One by one each quilt was finished with every stitch being thoughtfully and lovingly stitched. One of the small miracles was there were no mistakes. Every block fit perfectly. Each border was just right. My home was filled with a common bond shared through the art of sewing.
Here are some thoughts that were shared with the children at their mother's funeral. The quilts surrounded her casket and the room seemed cozy and warm.
"Your mom contacted me asking me to make quilts for each of you as a lasting treasure. At the time, we talked about having them made for you with the hope she would present them to you on your wedding day. She wanted her clothing and clothing from each of you to be part of the quilt. These quilts are the result of that conversation.
Each quilt block is made up of the clothes your mother or yourselves wore. Her hope is that as you look at the blocks memories of the times you shared together will come to your remembrance. The stitched words "Remember I'm always near, I love you, Mom" was a thought your Mom wanted you to feel when you are wrapped up in your quilt.
So many loving hands worked to get them to you before your mom's funeral. She would want you to have them as one of her last earthly gifts to you. Many hours of stitching the personalized messages on the quilts, sewing the blocks together and binding them.
Everyone was so grateful for the opportunity to work on these quilts. It was healing for us all. There were lots of tears and memories shared as everyone worked together. These quilts were sewn out of their love for your mother and their commitment to each of you to love and support you in the years ahead."
Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story with us, Jina! How has sewing changed or touched your life? It's unbelievable how a common interest, such as sewing, can unite complete strangers. It's quite remarkable!