Making the Hospice Quilt May 2010 – March 2011
In May of 2010, Laurie Davis “volunteered” me to make a new Memorial Quilt for Camarillo Hospice. The former quilt was still beautiful but was beginning to show its age.
I had been quilting for several years, but what I was doing was not traditional quilting. I took landscape pictures or portraits of loved ones and rendered them in fabric. Most of my creations were small enough to frame, and small enough for me to quilt on my domestic sewing machine. This quilt would need to be larger, and I was a bit intimidated by the project. I told Laurie that I would do it if she would promise to help me. And so our journey began.
We started with a small sketch of a path winding toward a sunrise (Laurie’s idea), and chose colors that would coordinate with the plans for the renovated office. The preliminary design was done by early June and we spent some time over the summer hunting for fabric.
Before the Christmas holidays, we finalized the design and fabric choices. The next step was to transfer the design to a large sheet of muslin which would serve as the base for the quilt. The outline of each piece was also transferred to iron-on fusing, so that the pieces could be fixed to the muslin base. With a planned size of about 5 ft x 4 ft, it was far too big for my dining room table, but fortunately my husband bought a new big screen TV in the fall, so we were able to use a part of the box as our work surface.
We had our first “cutting party” on January 22nd, working for six hours to cut and place the sky and the upper mountains. On February 6th, we spent four hours placing the path and the right side of the meadow.
Laurie and I worked until almost midnight on February 11th to complete the meadow and tree line, and then two days later added the stone wall and foreground flowers.
About that time, I realized that quilting a piece this size on my domestic sewing machine would be impossible (at least for me), and that hand quilting would take forever. I was very fortunate to find Darla Drain of Cotton Blocks Quilting, a local longarm quilter, and she agreed to do the quilting part of the project for us. What a relief! Darla picked up the quilt on February 14th, along with fabric for the backing and border and returned the finished piece to us on February 28th. What a wonderful job she did!
All of those details explain how the quilt was made, but not why I agreed to make it. Volunteering with Camarillo Hospice, I had visited many patients, listened to many oral histories, and (because I also worked on statistics) seen the incredible volume and depth of the work done by the organization. I knew the value that Camarillo Hospice added to my life through volunteering and through knowing the wonderful people who worked here. In my mind, the sunrise in the quilt stood for the hope and renewal that wonderful organization brought to its patients, clients, and volunteers. I hoped that as those with heavy hearts entered the office, the sight of that sunrise would lift their spirits and remind them that there were people there who care.
Each year, those who were grieving would write their loved one’s name on a butterfly and attach it to the quilt. At the end of the year, the quilt would be covered with butterflies!