At his very core, Bob loved to build things. Living in rural Pennsylvania, he had no shortage of natural materials and a landscape to shape. When his step-daughter, Mia, asked me to make a quilt in his honor, she offered some photos of Bob’s handiwork as inspiration for the design. She also had one request: the quilt design needed to feel “built” like the projects Bob left behind. Luckily, quilts are put together much like a brick path, one block at a time.
The scope of Bob’s work was vast, as evidenced in the number of photos Mia shared, but we were able to narrow them down to three elements: bricks, slate, and stone.
Bob’s shirts, especially the plaids, dovetailed nicely with the theme and structure of the quilt.
I began with Bricks. My approach was to choose three shirts to represent the brick path and to match the width to height ratio of the fabric “bricks” to Bob’s bricks as best I could.
I then laid them out in an orderly, repeating patterning.
Slate came next. I loved the photo of the stacked slate, leaning at an angle, waiting to be made into, what I thought would be, one of Bob’s walls or paths. Mia told me later that the slates were from the roof of the house and the barn across the street. Bob had stored the slates, awaiting a time when one of the roof slates needed to be replaced. “These will be useful to have some day. You can’t get these anymore,” she could imagine him saying.
Stone was last and became the center of the quilt. In a stone wall, each rock is shaped differently – it doesn’t have an even repeat to employ, so it became a single block for the center of the quilt.
Bob’s one lone red plaid shirt begged to be highlighted, so I used it as a slim border between the large blocks.
Depending on how many garments I’m given, there is sometimes quite a bit of material left over, and when it comes to men’s shirt material, I try to use as much of it as I can. Thus, after the quilt front was completed, I pieced together the remaining fabric for the back.
Sometimes, there are one or two garments that don’t “fit” with the rest of the design on the quilt front, so it’s nice to include them on the back. The blue and yellow Hawaiian print (below) was one such shirt.
Here is the finished quilt.
The finished back, with the quilting pattern that reminded me of a meandering path.
I extend my sincere gratitude to Mia and her family. Bob’s absence is felt deeply every day.