The Patchwork Brigadoon.

Dear friends,

photo

I had the most enchanting day on Friday. I went on a rambling odyssey through Missouri and found myself startled, and captivated, and charmed. Oh, if only all my Friday afternoons could be as much fun as yesterday.

I left work just before noon in search of a distant merchant. You might guess I was looking for a sewing machine, and boy did I find one. Interestingly, the store was two hours away, deep into rural farm country. Driving miles outside our state’s capitol on a postcard-worthy stretch of land dotted with ponds, proud red barns, and rolling fields of freshly cut hay bordered by white rail fences, I stumbled upon my patchwork Brigadoon. There were a dozen cars in the gravel parking lot (in the Middle of Nowhere, mind you) and a handful of bonneted young women in ankle-length, calico dresses inside the metal building buzzing over customers just like me who had presumably driven miles to this magic destination, known by some as the Quilting Capitol of America.

Sarah, an exceedingly polite and cheerful young woman who looked no more than 18, sat me down to test drive several models. I fell in love immediately with the quiet hum of Swiss precision, also known as the Bernina 350 Special Edition. It had everything I wanted and stitched like a dream, but since I realize my average reader isn’t as excited by the technicalities of sewing machine features as I have come to be, I’ll skip that part.

Suffice to say, less than an hour later I was paying my bill and realizing there would be many future drives to this idyllic spot where I hoped the crafty Mennonites would teach me every quilting trick in the book.

As I was writing my check, I asked, “By the way, is there a good fabric shop in the capitol city?” Sweet Sarah looked stricken and said “Well, there’s a JoAnn’s.” I frowned and shook my head, but before I could say a word, another calico-clad girl said “If you want quality fabric, you’ve got to go to Stover!”

Turns out, Stover was several miles deeper into farm country, another enchanting destination where another metal warehouse held the contents of my dreams. The tin store in the farming community of 900 held 9000 bolts of fabric, ten bolts for every soul that calls Stover home. I spent another two hours there, wandering the stacks in search of cotton treasure and finding plenty.

The proprietor, who had an uncanny resemblance to Emmylou Harris, cut my fabric and patiently answered my questions and said “Don’t forget to visit the quilt show.”

“Quilt show?” I exclaimed? Could this day get any better?!

“Yes. It’s just down the road. And it’s free.”

So down the road I went to yet another metal building surrounded by hay fields and populated with cheerful and welcoming women, including one named Priscilla who made sure I bought raffle tickets (for the “opportunity quilt”), met the leaders of the local Quilting Guild, and cast a vote for my favorite entry.

My vote went to the maker of this beautiful gem.

rose

Her name is Rose. She hand-pieced this quilt. When she was 90. For her daughter.

I very nearly wept right there in front of Priscilla, who really wanted to hear more about my first quilt and make sure I met the other show organizer who just happened to be from my town.

I finally pulled myself away sometime after 6:00 pm, which meant it was 8:30 pm before I pulled into my driveway, weary but happy and inspired.

When I walked in . . . well, that’s when happy and inspired turned into Mondo-Beyondo. There was a surprise so lovely awaiting me it requires another post.

(Sorry to leave you hanging, but I’ve got an unopened sewing machine calling my name!)

With gratitude {for maybe the best Friday ever},

Joan, who told Parker she was as excited about her new sewing machine as he would be with a brand new pickup truck . . . to which he responded, “No way, because you’re not jumping up and down and crying!” . . . to which she responded “I already did, but I was in Patchwork Brigadoon and you couldn’t see me”

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Comments

  1. Oh – that quilt by Rose! My heart melts. I’d happily design an entire room around it and I’m not usually much a fan of pastels, but that mint green..it calls me. What a lucky woman her daughter is – I hope she appreciates the art and artistry and isn’t taking it for granted simply because her Momma made it. Not that that ever happens…

    I’m smitten with your fabrics choices. Can’t wait to see how you’ll use them. This is almost as good as trying to sew myownself. Vicarious quilting is boss!

  2. IrishJenn says:

    I love your fabric choices! Those retro prints are so pretty. There’s nothing better than finding a shop that carries quality fabric. It’s a whole different world and it turns one into a fabric snob. The same thing happens when knitters discover the world of quality yarn. I’ve a cabinet full of fabric and yarn to prove it.
    Can’t wait to see your next finished project!

  3. Almost nothing more wonderful than quilts and the stories in them!

  4. Juanita says:

    I grew up sleeping under a quilt with Rose’s pattern. I also grew up playing with my sister under the quilting frames as the missionary society met at our house to quilt. I have the last quilt my mother made and oh, how I enjoy it. Why is it that cotton quilts keep one so warm? A former student quilted a beautiful crib one for George. Thanks for opening this avenue of memories for me.

  5. That all sounds so lovely! And that quilt? Oh my goodness, gorgeous.

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