Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memory Quilts for Mary's Daughters

The smiling Sherman girls received these quilts last weekend. That's Becca on the left and Maggie on the right, with their stepmom Joan, maker of the quilts, in the middle.

Their mom, Mary Sherman, died of bladder cancer in her early 50s in 2006.  Her daughters are Maggie, then 22 and in college at KU and Becca, then 16 at Shawnee Mission West.  Mary wasn't a collector of things but loved to dress nicely.  She was a pharmacist. Her husband Steve held on to her clothing for a long time as it seemed to symbolize Mary  - he just didn't know how to give the clothes to the girls in a meaningful way.  
Joan entered the picture in  2007 as a friend and at some point suggested that he have quilts made for the girls out of her clothing.  "The more I got to know all of them and the more I thought about it, I decided I had to be the one to make the quilts," Joan wrote.  "So I suggested this and off we went."

Joan had the girls pick out their mother's clothing that meant the most to them. She wrote:
"That gave us a collection of nightgowns, blouses, dresses, skirts.  You can imagine the variety of fabrics!!  I nixed all sweatshirts and tshirts.  Then I left with a bag full of clothing and had no idea how I was going to incorporate this mishmosh of color and fabric.  I contemplated this for 6 months and looked at all sorts of patterns and then, bless Shirley Lewis, my colleague at Harper's (fabric and quilt company in Overland Park, Kansas), she created "Chopsticks" for one of the Strip Club quilt projects.  Although a very different concept with her beautiful batiks to give it an oriental feel -- the more I looked at her quilt, I realized I could achieve what I wanted which was to get all those fabrics in a quilt that each girl could wrap herself in.

The girls' went along with my concept, except I turned the quilts into a throw size.  I cut up the clothing, stabilized each piece and cut strips.  The girls picked out their fabric strips to make each of their blocks.  They picked out their solid block color with me in addition to backing and border fabric.  Becca wanted the chopsticks in hers, Maggie did not.  So since the day they built their fabric blocks, neither has seen their quilt. My friend, Debby Muther, did the beautiful machine quilting incorporating the background flowers of their individual backing fabrics in the quilting of the solid blocks. Their birthdays are May 11 and May 21.  

They opened their quilt box presents from me together last weekend. They loved them.  I also gave each a book with photos of their Mom and each girl wearing many of the clothes we used plus photos of each garment and the final quilt.  It was a great day!!!! I wanted you to see what was created and thank you for talking with me about this early on."

Isn't this a great story? By the way, Joan and Steve were married September 18, 2009. Ah.........


  1. Great, great story! Very touching. Oh, the power of quilts!

  2. I think that this is what quilting is all about!

  3. These are beautiful! And I love that photo - what a wonderful story.

  4. What a precious gift Joan gave those girls! :) Thanks for sharing the story, Deb.

  5. Oh my yes, all what was said above and one additional .... teardrop. Thank you.