Sunday, September 2, 2018

Martha's Sewing Room

Martha sharing a project at a small group gathering
My friend, Martha, enjoyed most aspects of quilting. In 1992, I met her at a "Quilt Til You Wilt" event--meaning quilt from 6pm to midnight. It seemed the later into the evening it became, the more animated and fun she became. At that time, she was hearing, although she wore a hearing aid. Over time, she lost her ability to hear in both ears and had cochlear implants. She learned to read lips and worked hard to pick up progressing sounds from her processors. Verbal communication was always a struggle for her and for me too. We got around the hearing challenge by communicating in the language of "Quilt!"

Through the last thirty years of her life, she spent many hours creating in her studio.  She had a job at Jantzen (a Portland based swimwear company) sewing on a production line. I mention this because she liked to sew fast. I think she was the one the phrase "pedal to the metal" was written! Her ability to sew fast, to stitch for long stretches of time helped her create many quilts/projects over the years.

Her answer to the "What's in My Cupboard" challenge
She made baby quilts for the expectant couple. She made quilts for the couple getting married. She made quilts for raffles and she made quilts because you needed one. She and her dad made hundreds of quilts for "CARES NW," an organization that responds to the needs of abused children. He would cut the squares and she would stitch them into quilts.

She sold some of her projects and sometimes, she was commissioned to make a special quilt. This money would fund the expenses of thread, fabric and pattern for her next project. She stretched those dollars shopping the sales and using discount coupons. She was passionate about making and donating quilts for kids because she felt this population especially needed to be wrapped in warmth and love.
Her answer to another challenge

Martha liked working with string and crumb blocks because she could stitch without having to be careful about seam allowances of cutting off points. Remember, I said that she liked her machine in pedal to the medal mode! She also said if you had a fabric that you ended up not loving, it was the perfect one to throw in the string or crumb mix to allow the fabrics you loved to shine.

She loved the rich colors of batiks and paper piecing. Over the many Fridays we stitched together, I watched her pull fabrics from her stash to put into wonderful color combinations. I wouldn't think the fabrics would go together and she would tell me to squint my eye! She loved starting new projects!!!! She especially loved to participate in challenges.

At the end of June, we were talking about our projects and our stashes. She said her stuff would be put into an estate sale.  BUT, she had a particular destination in mind for her stash of tools, fabrics, supplies and works in progress. She wanted her fabrics to benefit kids. She said the chair of the stitching comforts committee of one guild she belonged to needed batting and backing. She appreciated how the committee chair used and valued donations to comfort stitching. Martha was impressed too with this chair's connections--I'm not meaning dark or back alley type connections--but how the chair would know an organization that would get the supplies on the street and in use fast.
Her sewing space without her supplies and fabrics

Little did I know that would be the last voice to voice conversation we would have. She didn't recover from a fall in her home on July 6. (I missed her graveside service because I was on vacation in Hawaii.) I'm glad we had that conversation. I shared our conversation with Martha's brother who is in charge of her estate. With his support, I did follow through as much as possible on her final wish.

I'm thankful to four guild ladies for spending the time to sort, box and clear Martha's sewing space. In nine hours, we filled seven cars so full of fabrics and supplies that not one more package of needles would fit! I marveled at how Martha packed so many treasures into a room that was about ten feet by eight feet!

Through the sale of some of Martha's tools, the comfort stitching chair has money to purchase batting. The day after the move,  guild members cut 100 quilt kits for other members to stitch a comfort quilt for charity.
Her supplies that came to my studio
Her buttons and trims went to a children's art program. Many of her fat quarters went to the Quilts without Borders organization. Her bold trims and sparkle fabrics as well as stabilizer went to the drama department at one of the local high schools. She would be tickled that her supplies are stretching beyond the community where she had lived for the last 35 years. I'm thankful that a little bit of Martha will continue to spread joy and comfort for many years to come.

I miss our stitching times. I spent many Fridays stitching on the blue table in her studio while she stitched at the desk. It felt so odd to be emptying her space and to be in her space without her! Although working in her space and following through with her plan for her supplies has provided me with closure.

Her brother gifted me a couple quilts that none of the family members wanted. These will be part of a display at the September Clark County Quilters (CCQ) guild meeting. They are quilts she made as part of the annual CCQ challenge. She was proud of her design in the "I Love Vicky" quilt that she created as her answer to the 2010 challenge. I also have the supplies that wouldn't fit into the seven car loads. I'll be posting about what happens to those items in the future.


Nicole Knott said...

Such a nice tribute to Martha - every time I saw her she always had a smile and was eager to talk about dogs or new sewing projects. said...

Thank you. She did love animals almost as much as kids! You are right about the smile and talking about new sewing projects!!!

Janice Smith said...

I’m sure she would be happy to know that her wishes regading her fabric and supplies are being followed.

Anonymous said...

Touching tribute to Martha, Terry. How lucky she was to have you as a quilting buddy. Gail G

Luann Fischer said...

Terry, Thanks for sharing such a personal moment. said...

Thank you, Gail. I believe we were luck to have each other! We each pushed each other to develop different skill sets. We shared a lot of laughs! said...

Luann, I channeled you a ton during the process as I looked for out of the box ways to get her stash into use soon. I do miss her; but, her influence will be hanging out in my studio for years to come! said...

Janice, I'm sure she was there helping us sort! :) I say that because I picked up a box that I wouldn't have; but, something pushed me to. . .turns out it was the last project she was working on. I have a particular place in mind with which to give it once it is finished!