On Saturday, I was so proud to deliver quilt fabric to my friend Judy. She’s making a labor-intensive, beautiful quilt. She takes fabric donations from friends, relatives, and quilt well-wishers. I don’t know what the pattern of the final piece is called, but it is mostly muslin with inset circles of material – in patterns from plaid to polka dots to cartoon cats.
It’s fun to donate to this quilt, because if you sit and speak with Judy about it, she can tell you who gave her which bit of fabric, where it came from, and Judy's relationship with the giver. In some cases, the fabric came from grandmother’s blankets, decorated jar lids, or a favorite skirt that never forgave the weight gain. Some bits were found in attics or along the road... Mine came from the retail world.
I purchased four fat quarters. I'd never heard this term before - and it's kind of funny. For those who don't know, a Fat Quarter is an 18” x 22” portion of fabric. When I asked Jude why it was called a fat quarter, she replied, “So they can give it a cool name…”
Incidentally - do four fat quarters makes up an Obese Yard?
Back to the fabric I purchased – As I found each one, I thought, “Oh, Judy will LOVE this!” They were bright, geometric, bold statements - cut in fat quarters. One yellow with orange spirals, one rusty orange with patterns, one green, and the other a bold, multi-colored checkerboard.
When I delivered them, Judy DID like them – so I chose well. She showed me how different variations of the fabric would make interesting additions to the quilt and which patterns would look good next to which bits of the quilt. She seemed excited that I gave her a lot of warm-tones and yellows. “When I look at this thing, I feel like it’s really lacking in yellows…” I was thrilled – I got into the quilt club. I am part of the story.
Then something interesting happened. She showed me the piles, scraps, and fat quarters that other people had donated. Our friend Anne gave her several Victorian-inspired florals, leftover from her Victorian-inspired home decor. Christine donated several in various shades of purple, all reminiscent of the purple she wears every day.
It got me thinking – did Anne and Christine look at their offerings and think, “I’ll bet Judy would LOVE this?” Did they think Judy would love their fabric as much as she loved mine?
That quilt got me thinking. When we give gifts – I think we give from the heart - to the part of the recipient that’s most like us. I gave bold patterns because I recognize the boldness in Judy - and understand it.
I don’t think I’d be caught dead giving fat quarters to Jude's "Victorian floral" part. I just relate to that at all. I can definitely see Christine wearing any of the purple she gave Judy... But would Christine have looked at my orange spiraled cloth and thought, "Judy would LOVE this?" I'm not so sure.
What it comes down to is this: Judy loves all
of the fabric (not to mention the fact that people would think enough of her to give her such a personal gift...). She often said, upon receipt of a scrap, "I can use this!" She loves Anne’s floral, Christine’s purples, and my bright geometrics and spirals – because each one expresses a different aspect of Judy’s personality.
Later that afternoon, Judy and I got talking about an upcoming graduate class she’s taking called “The Human Personality.” She asked, “Kelly, what IS personality?” I thought a little before saying, "Personality is one person’s penchant for behaving in certain patterns. Happy people will behave in a happy way. Melancholy people will have a sad disposition..."
Now that I think about it, I could have said that Personality is what makes up our individual quilts - florals, spirals, purple and all.