Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

Here in the US, we’ve just finished the Thanksgiving holiday, a time to celebrate, gather, remember and give thanks for our families. But now that that holiday is finished, the malls and commercials have started pushing one thing: gifts for Christmas! Today’s Q.S.O.S. spotlight features an excerpt from an interview with Bonnie Gallagher as she talks about making gifts for her family:

Bonnie Gallagher: I’m doing the family Christmas project this year is they are holiday fabrics actually and they are table runners and table toppers for everyone’s dining room tables for the holidays with the exception of one for my nephew, Misha, and his wife-to-be, Katie I asked them to be really specific with me about what they would like in the way of quilting because I said, ‘After all your Aunt Bonnie quilts and that’s what everybody gets for Christmas.’ [both laugh.]

Bless his heart, two years ago Misha asked me, he said, ‘Well Aunt Bonnie, now that I’ve graduated from college and I have my own apartment and I’m fully grown. Does that mean I get to graduate to the family quilt project list?’ I just couldn’t believe it. I could have just hugged him because first of all he was a guy and second of all he was a guy in his 20’s and so it was kind of like graduating to the adult table at Thanksgiving when you’re a little kid. [both laugh.]

I said, ‘You bet.’ I said, ‘Well, did you have anything specific in mind?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I love having friends over for dinner and I really would like to have one of your table toppers and those wonderful napkins that you make.’

I said, ‘Well, I have one more question.’ He said, ‘Blue and green.’ [both laugh.] He knew what that next question was.

This year, bless his heart, I asked he and Katie here not soon enough practically. I said, ‘Did they have any specific thing in mind this year?’ And they both said, “Yep, you have one over here on your quilt rack that we both just love.’ And I said, ‘Ah oh, so do you remember which one it was?’ By golly, they went right to it and it was a Bargello quilt that I’d made to commemorate my mother’s Chinese dinners over the years and they just loved it.

Well, I’ll tell you, Bargello, some of these pieces are like 7/8 inches wide and they are just itty-bitty things, but it’s a technique that I love to do. It is just that I kind of recalled that one quilt I did for Mom took me about two months and here I’m asking them the first of November what it is they want for Christmas this year. I’m down to the borders now, hallelujah. They may not have it quilted in time for Christmas, but they will be able to see the design. That’s kind of fun.

Carolyn Kolzow (interviewer): What a treasure.  

BG: Yeah, well I hope they like it. [laughs.] I said, ‘Oh cripes, you guys are going for the art quilts.’ I said, ‘You do know those take a little longer than the traditional ones.’ Anyway, that is okay. It gives me a warm heart that they’re thrilled with it.

CK: I suppose that is what you find most pleasing about quilts too.

BG: I do. It’s like you think of whomever you’re making them for with great love every stitch of the way. I mean you have that person in mind and it’s just wonderful and they know it when they get it that quilt was especially made for them. It does give me great joy.

I did for this year’s family reunion that Jim and I host here at the house in Sandy for all my Lippincott, my father’s family, come and I’m fortunate enough to have still five aunts and uncles that are living on that side, which thankfully makes me feel not quite so much like an orphan with both of my parents gone now.

Every year for the family reunion I do a big quilt, a napping size I guess I call it. The napping blanket and I only let my aunts and uncles put their name into the hat and I pull a name or have the youngest person at the reunion pull a name and that quilt goes home with that aunt or uncle.

My Uncle Boyd won the last one and my Aunt Sharon won before then and my Aunt Rhodie bless her heart is 96 years old, so she called me about March and she said, ‘Bonnie this is your Aunt Rhodie. Have you started that family reunion quilt yet?’ And I said, ‘Well no, I have clear till August.’ Anyway she said, ‘Well, I’m kind of figuring this out. I think my odds are improving.’ Because if they won before they are not eligible at the next one. She said, ‘So your Aunt Becky usually only comes to every other reunion.’ She said, ‘Your Uncle Boyd already won and your Aunt Sharon already won.’ So she figures, ‘I’m down to one in three now and I really want to win that quilt before I die.’

And I thought, ‘Oh my God. How am I going to do this?’ I just shifted into high gear and I figured the only way I was going to do it was to make a quilt for each and every one of them for this year’s reunion. I did. I made a total of six of them each specifically for that person. 

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About quiltalliance

The Quilt Alliance is a nonprofit 501c3 organization established in 1993 whose mission is to document, preserve, and share our International quilt heritage by collecting the rich stories that historic and contemporary quilts, and their makers, tell about our nation's diverse peoples and their communities. In support of this mission, the Alliance brings together quilt makers and designers, the quilt industry, quilt scholars and teachers, and quilt collectors to further the following goals: To promote the understanding of the quilt as an important grassroots art form. To make information about quilts available to a broad public. To educate the public about the importance of documenting quilts and quiltmakers so that their stories will not be lost.

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