Piecing together the past

Earlier this year on a trip to visit my parents, I made an intriguing discovery at the back of a cupboard. Nestled amongst the old tennis rackets, lonely shoes and bundles of magazines from the last thirty years, was a shoebox.

Inside was what appeared to be an entire quilt in pieces. There were hundreds of different coloured squares, most of which had already been sewn onto papers ready to be assembled, a large piece of backing fabric, a cardboard square template, fabric scissors and even some handwritten notes. But it wasn’t my Mum’s handwriting, nor my Grandma’s, so I was confused as to who had stashed this treasure trove in a shoebox and never quite come to finish their apparently very well planned-out project.

It turned out that the mystery quilter had been my Great Aunty Vera, my Mum’s Mum’s sister. She died when I was quite young, but I remember her as a still-glamorous woman in her eighties, who wore high-heeled slippers and owned a hostess trolley! She also had many interesting objects in her house having spent time living in Japan. After Vera died, the shoebox was passed on to my Mum, as she’s a very keen quilter, but amidst the bustle of family life, and the huge numbers of other projects my Mum has worked on over the years, the box was forgotten, waiting to be rediscovered by me over 20 years later.

Interestingly, even though there were notes in the box, there was nothing showing what pattern the squares should be laid out in, so I had a go at planning out a pattern for the mystery quilt myself.

I added new squares of complimentary fabric to the design and worked out a pattern that incorporated Aunty Vera’s squares, but also made it into something I could imagine fitting in to my own home.

I’m really pleased with the finished design and all I need to do now is find a little bit of extra fabric to fill in the corners and actually get round to sewing all the pieces together. Now where did I put that shoebox…?


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