Jim’s Quilts

Yesterday Becky and I went out to lunch with Barb, our sister in law. It was a gorgeous day and after lunch at Applebee’s we stopped at Walmart where they were just getting plants put out for sale. Racks and racks of ferns in hanging baskets for only $12.88!

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Isn’t it beautiful? I think I’ll go back and buy another one or two. I also bought a pot of hen and chicks to plant in the rock garden.

And two Rex begonias —-

Oh, I’m thinking I’ll be in big trouble this spring when all the greenhouses open. Once again I think about last year and how depressed I was and I don’t think I bought any plants at all! Plants are good for the soul!

Back to our day yesterday. I gave the quilts to Barb and she was overcome. She cried and I told her I hoped these quilts wouldn’t cause her pain and sadness. In time I think she’ll become accustomed to see Jim’s shirts in her home once again. We talked about certain shirts that made an impact on the process of making each quilt. For example two of the dress shirts were very thin fabric which was a challenge to work with. Some shirts were very thin from wear and tear – he wore those when it was hot because they were cool. She knew when he wore each shirt, for what occasion, who he received the shirt from if it was a gift – it was a special moment.

I told her I wanted to take a picture of her with the quilts even though she was crying. These are powerful pictures of a woman who lost her husband of 60 years and who has been reunited with the shirts he wore on his body. I know you will feel the sadness as I did.

Next winter I’ll make two more quilts so Barb and the three kids will each have a quilt. This was a special day that I won’t forget – I doubt Barb will forget either. Becky also tried to tell her how much I loved making the quilts when she asked if she could pay me. I will decide which patterns I will use before next winter but for right now I’m heading outside to do yard work. I’ll catch up with all of you this evening.

78 thoughts on “Jim’s Quilts

  1. Carol

    Wow, the power of the gift of quilting. I wish I had my father’s shirts to make a quilt with. You could not be paid in the true value of your gift!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      April – it made me so happy to do it for her! And she broke down just as you did – a quilt is a powerful gift, isn’t it?

  2. Donna O

    Mary it was kind of you to make this quilt for her. I’m thinking she’ll hold it close very often.
    I love hens & chicks. I got some from my oldest sister a few years ago and since I don’t have a green thumb I must have dug around them in the garden at the end of the season & now they’re gone. Sad…..I will have to search the stores fir replacement plants. I hope I can find some. 🤞
    Happy Spring Mary. Henry sends his love 🐱

  3. Kathy Zuehl

    I am crying reading this…Jim and Barb were such a wonderful couple! You made such beautiful quilts with Jim’s shirts. What an honor it must have been to do this for her. You are a blessed woman Mary. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Marilyn

    Lovely quilts and remembrance.

    I also picked up two ferns at Walmart in Columbus, OH for that price. Great plants for the shade.

  5. Janice

    Very powerful moment. I cried too. I know Barb will cherish those quilts and the memories they represent. Such a nice gift to be able to give, Mary. I will have to check out our local Walmart and see if they have the ferns for sale. I love Boston ferns. Hoping to get pansies too. Sun is trying to come out here after a few days of rain, rain, rain. Tired of it but the grass loves it! Jan in MA

    1. Jeni F Kahan

      You inspire me Mary! I’m going to get up, clean my yard, and do something nice for someone (my husband has been home recovering from injuries –I can relate).
      No time like the present.

      1. CountryThreads Post author

        Jeni Kahan- it’s such a pretty day here it’s not hard to get inspired to work outside! Good luck to you – I know how difficult it is to have a husband incapacitated!

  6. Diane in Maryland

    Powerful pictures of Barb receiving these quilts. Her face spoke words…. I’m sure you felt many emotions also as you made them. A wonderful gift.
    It’s hard to resist a plants after a cold dreary winter like so many of us have had. Have gotten some herbs and have bought a couple things only to find myself walking round and round the yard trying to decide where to plant them! My husband asks why I buy them if I don’t know where I’m going to plant them.. silly man!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Diane in Maryland – like you, I buy them because I fall in love with them! I’ll figure out where to put them – later. Haha!

      1. Diane, Squeak's Mom

        Diane and Mary, In our little sewing group, we call that buying “Willy Nilly”! You don’t have to have a spot for them, you just need to love them:) It’s the same with fabric.

        Mary, your quilts are a beautiful gift for Barb from you. I wanted to reach out and hug you both.

  7. Sharlyn

    Good morning…loved your quilt an what a gift…
    Question did you before say what the pattern was or where it could be found?
    Love reading your emails….

  8. Kathy Hanson

    I’m crying as I read this and see the pictures of Barb with the quilts – A gift that has no equal, for her, and for you as well! Happy yard work day – it is so beautiful today!

  9. Pat Smith

    What a wonderful gift, and seeing Barb’s face says it all. I wish I had looked to the future and saved some of my father’s shirts, but somehow I couldn’t imagine him not here. There are so many questions I would love to ask my parents and grandmother, but at the time I could have asked, I was busy raising children and wasn’t interested. You always think there’ll be time for that later. Thank you so much for sharing such a poignant family moment.

  10. the other Angie

    That gift could not have been more perfect. Who doesn’t love to wrap themselves in a quilt – especially one with all those beautiful love-filled memories and one made with so much love. That quilt and those memories will comfort her for years to come. Mary, you are the best!

  11. Martha Engstler Gettysburg

    I have so many dresses from my childhood( and young adulthood) that I intend to use for a quilt. Hope some day someone in my family will treasure it even though it won’t have the beautiful memories that the ones you made have. I can’t think of a more meaningful gift. You have such special loving meaningful ideas.

  12. Diane Bauer

    What a powerful gift you’ve given Barb and her family–and probably anyone who comes into their home who knew Jim. Yes, I believe she will come to love having that reminder of him and will love being able to wrap up in both his shirts and the love you’ve sewn into those quilts!

    WOOHOO!!!! 6 ads to close today!!! That may be an all-time record here and certainly more than I’ve seen in quite some time!

    I love Hen and Chicks as well! May have to make a trip to the greenhouse to see what I can find. You’ve inspired me!

    I’m heading out to the barn again this morning. It’s cooler than it was yesterday, and overcast. A good day to groom and walk!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Diane Bauer – give old Pete a hug from me! When one of my animals gets really old, I pray they die in their sleep, peaceful and knowing they’re loved but time after time their health declines to the point where I cannot stand to see them possibly suffering or in pain. And then I have to call the vet and the backhoe guy.
      I was thinking that if I get things cleared off outside I could go to a greenhouse tomorrow – oh, such trouble I’ll get into there!

  13. Nikki M in Tx

    I know she appreciated the quilts..I have a box of my husbands shirts I saved for a quilt for my son, granddaughter and myself, just not able to make them just yet, cry every time I open the box, someday.
    Storm all afternoon & night & predicted for same today. Luckily got tifton &world feeder fields fertilized before the rain came . Lucky for me found someone that willing to do it on the halves…I can’t do it on my own & sold bailer several years ago.
    Made mistake of going to nursery last week…bought several hanging baskets…buffet for llama if history repeats itself. It is said the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over & over expecting a different outcome….what can I say…I love hanging baskets & Bongo (the llama) does let them get full & lush before he starts eating them.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Nikki In Tx – can you buy something Bongo doesn’t like? Or hang them higher? I’m sure you’ve thought of all those possibilities but Bongo is worth more than a hanging basket. No rain here – everybody and I mean EVERYBODY is in the field! Also lots of tiling going on.

  14. Caryn Goulden

    Mary, you are such a blessing for your family and friends. My heart goes out to Barb. ❤️ The quilts are beautiful. All the memories they must hold!

  15. Maggey

    What a treasure .. I know she will cherish them just as she did her Jim. My Jim and I have been married 62 years, I can’t imagine life without him. ❤️

  16. Mrs. Goodneedle

    These are powerful images. Bless you, and God bless Barb, too; these quilts are tangible witness to a life well lived and will provide memories sure to bring smiles and help with healing a broken heart.

    Yes, planting is good for the soul. I have been to the nursery myself today!

  17. Katie Hernandez

    How Special for this lady to embrace those fabrics that her husband wore….
    God Bless You for making them and making a driffence..
    It’s hard not to buy plants..our heat is getting close to 3 digits..and I must be careful to not buy plants…
    My patio w plants brings me much PEACE..

    I just need to share my Sister Pilar in Southern California …is an artist, she gets many request to make dolls with clothes from people that have passed..she paints the faces from a photo that family members provide, she also makes bears from pjs ,robes, blankets, all sentimental items…
    I have many items in my home that she has created..my favorite being a Frida Kaho doll..that sits with my Dia de Los Muertos altar..

    Thank You Mary for being a Special friend to so many ..🤗

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Katie Hernandez – oh wow, is that neat! She even paints the faces? I love it! I’ll bet she can be just as busy as she wants – I recently got a request for a commission quilt which I’m still thinking about doing – not a bed quilt but just a wall quilt.

  18. Diane, Squeak's Mom

    Oops–did I do something wrong? I wrote a comment above to Diane and Mary. My comment says, “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

    I showed my husband and he said, “You’re in trouble!” I hope I didn’t mess up. Sorry.

  19. Launa

    God bless you Mary for creating and giving the shirt quilts that brought such wonderful memories! Real treasures, indeed!

  20. Judi L.

    Such a wonderful story and so inspiring as well. I have made many many “memory” quilts from the clothing of a special loved one. I remember how I fretted over the first one because I had no idea how I was going to do it. I finally decided on the crazy 9-patch design because no matter what it would all come together. The gentleman that passed, had recently retired. He had exactly 12 shirts and about three pair of Docker pants. Luckily he was an XL. Somehow I managed to get four quilts (all a bit larger than lap size); one for his widow and each of his three children. I even made two throw pillows for his two grandsons. It definitely warms my heart to know I have helped someone else’s heart heal.

  21. Starrla Opferman

    Mary, I love the quilts you made for your friend. the sashing really sets the blocks off. A truly wonderful gift. I also am a big gardner and have lots of large flower beds. I did work out one nice day and managed to remove 3 huge bags of leaves and such. It has been a hard winter for me related to decline in my husband’s health and haven’t been able to get my self to do all that I usually do. I am leaving tomorrow for a 4 day quilt retreat and hope I will be inspired and get some of my mojo back. I was really interested in your hydrangea story and look forward to hearing how they do.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Starla O – I’m so sorry to hear about your husband, too. I think we can all understand and sympathize. Hang in there – I’ll let you know about the hydrangeas!

  22. Diane Deibler

    Such a beautiful and thoughtful gift,Mary. I have promised myself to cut down on containers and no new perrenials but I know once I start going to greenhouses and seeing all those beautiful flowers, I will break the promise. I am a plantoholic!! Ha.

  23. Louise

    What a very thoughtful thing you did Mary.
    Wish I could wrap Barb in a hug. God bless you both!

  24. SusanfromKentucky

    I feel her pain. Two years ago, I lost my husband of almost 35 years. He was only 61. It has been devastating.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Susan from KY – I am so sorry! I’m sure this group is probably a grief support group since I’m sure we’re all about the same age. 61 is pretty young – very sad.

  25. Martha in Maine

    I just love the way Barb is hugging the quilt she is holding. The quilts look so cozy.

    My husband of 46 years died December 2nd. I saved 4 of his plaid flannel shirts and am just beginning to make folk art stuffed bird ornaments from them and I’ll also make some heart ornaments. He so loved birds and my daughters and I have found that birds are the thing that keep us happy, as we grieve and live into this life without him.

    In his time of home hospice care, I loved seeing him snuggled under a quilt I made and then when he was transferred to the Hospice House, every room there (18) had a quilt on the bed, donated by local quilters. We had toured it earlier in the fall, and the first thing my husband said was “there are quilts on all of the beds.” John’s quilt upon arrival there was oranges and purples. Then, one day in our 9 day time there, his nurse asked “Aren’t you a veteran?” He said, “Yes, US Air Force”. She dashed out of the room and returned with a red/white/blue quilt and said “Veterans are supposed to have patriotic quilts on their beds.” And so, he did. What I treasured the most is that the veteran’s quilt looked exactly like something I might have made ~~ pieced stars.

    Quilts are powerful gifts of warmth and love. Getting back to my quilting after 1-1/2 years away from my machine and fabrics is helping me to remember who I am and what I love to do. It was an honor to care for my beloved husband and I kept knitting at my side during that time.

    Blessings here for all those who have lost spouses, especially those in long marriages. It’s so incredibly difficult. I stand up each morning and tell myself “This is the day that you have”.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Martha in Maine – what a poignant essay of love and remembrance! I so enjoyed hearing about the quilts at Hospice and that your husband got a patriotic one to commemorate his service to us all! Carry on, Dear Lady and make some more of those birds!

  26. Chris H

    What a lovely thing to do, Mary. It made my eyes leak… but in a “what a wonderful friend” way. Bless you for such a loving, kind gift.💕

  27. Kate

    Bless her heart. She can still hug her husband through the quilts. What a very thoughtful gift. I will have to remember this. I hate it when someone dies and people immediately get rid of their clothes as if they never existed. I love the idea of remembering them through quilts made from their clothes.

  28. Elaine Kopischke-Trejo

    What an absolutely wonderful gift!!! Something she will cherish forever!!!!!

  29. Sunflower

    What a lovely blog today! The pictures of your sister-in-law are so emotional. I know the quilts will bring her peace and happiness as time goes on. Bless you for making them.
    To Susan in KY, I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband. There aren’t words to ease your pain and loss. Please know Mary’s followers will keep you in our thoughts.
    And to Martha in Maine, I loved your story about your husband. I’m so sorry about his passing as well. Hugs and thoughts to you and your family.
    My husband was diagnosed with lymphoma in November and after many treatments, is in remission. Having this blog to read and the comments too, helped me in those first dark days. Mary, you provide such a wonderful community through this blog, thank you.
    * I had four ads today! I also went and bought a hanging basket fern after seeing yours😊

  30. Kate

    I lost my husband 5 years ago. My sister lost her husband three years ago. We were both 60 years of age when we lost them. But I took my brother in laws shirts and made my sister a quilt from the shirts. He was a Vietnam Veteran, so took his t-shirts with Veteran patches and made each of her kids a pillow. It was so rewarding to do it for her.
    Bless you for doing this for her.

  31. Jessica

    I can see the power of love in those pictures! What a precious moment. I know she will become familiar with them and they will be the most cherished things she owns! I have about 100 of my Dad’s t-shirts and tank tops that I want to make into a quilt, but I’m so afraid of screwing it up, they just live in a plastic tote. His shirts were all Native American inspired (he was a Penobscot Indian from Maine) and they have large images of Indians, wolves and eagles. Maybe a pillow would be more my speed right now. LOL I did send two of my Mom’s flannel nightgowns to a friend to make teddy bears out of for myself and my kids and even at 49 years old, I cuddle with it whenever I need her.

    Just a quick update: due to the results of the hormone receptors of my breast cancer, it’s been determined that I will need chemo and then radiation. I’m nervous, of course, but ready for this war….I will win!

  32. Jane from Blaine, MN

    I love this group. Quilting, animals, plants and such heartfelt, beautiful life stories. Blessings on you, Mary, and on all who share of themselves here.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Jane from Blaine – that even rhymes! I love this group, too. I honestly believe we are all more alike than different and we are inspired by each other.

  33. Paula Philpot

    I love the quilts you made for her they are both beautiful. I can see her sleeping with them and wanting to never let go of them. Paula in KY

  34. Felicia Hamlin

    Those pictures are priceless, Mary, and so are the quilts. That was a labor of love and your reward is to see how they touched your sister-in-law. I know they are very meaningful to her. God bless you always.

    I went to Menards today and I couldn’t help it I bought an impatients basket, one red and one purple columbine and a geranium. My husband also asks where are going to plant that? I was laughing when I read that.

  35. Mary Hawk

    Lovely plants and quilts Mary. What a gift of comfort you have given her. Blessings to you.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Mary Hawk – THANK YOU!! I love my tee shirt and I envy you the visit to Best Friends which I have known about for years. Rick even offered to pay for my trip out there to volunteer for a week but I knew I couldn’t go without bringing home some friends. I’d love to pull a trailer out there and bring back all the goats, a couple dogs, a couple cats and maybe a bird. Ha! Don’t think I haven’t thought about it! Thank you for such a thoughtful gift! I’ll wear it and have Connie take my picture. Our readers are just the best!

  36. Tammy Guerrero

    My dad passed on Sept 2. I have all his flannel shirts and want to make my brother a rag quilt from them. I really dont know where to begin. Can you tell me where and how to start cutting these shirts apart? How big should I make the squares etc. I’m overwhelmed on how to start. Thank you for doing such a special gift for this lady, she was touched by your kindness. You are a sweetie for touching her heart with this quilt.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Tammy G – it’s very hard for me to give you a quilt class in a blog comment. Go online and find directions or find a pattern to purchase. Rag quilts are very easy to make and as far as cutting apart the shirts, just try to cut away all the seams in order to leave the biggest piece of fabric you can. Sometimes you have to just decide you’re going to start. Thinking about it is harder than just doing it.

  37. Mike Larson

    Mary, Thank you so much for what you have done for Mom and our family. These quilts will mean so much to mom and our family for years to come. Hope to see you soon and thank you in person.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Mike Larson – you’re so welcome! I’ll make 2 more next winter so you’ll all have one.

  38. Kathy Schwartz in SW MN

    Blessings to you for making those quilts. Beautiful.
    Nice pictures of those plants.
    Snow is expected here this Sat. It is also the high school prom.
    No filed work here yet. Way to wet. I saw a guy mowing his lawn today!

  39. Rosemary

    Love the post today. Thanks for sharing this touching moment. She’ll be wrapped in love! May it be a source of comfort and pace! Great job !

  40. Andi

    Hi!
    Oh, these pictures made me tear up. Such a special thing for you to do, and she has touchable and huggable reminders of her dear husband. so sweet of you to do this!

  41. Janice Brown

    Mary, What a very powerful and moving post of Barb with Jim’s quilts. Thank you for sharing.

    One of my sisters lost her husband 12 years ago at the age 52. It never dawned on me at the time to collect some of his clothing to make into a quilt because it would of provided a lot of comfort to my sister. I think it is wonderful through these quilts you could give Barb a piece of Jim for comfort.

  42. Kaye

    I’m sure Barb was so touched by the quilts! They will be a special treasure for her with all the memories of the shirts. You have such a wonderful heart Mary! I enjoy ALL of your blog! Kaye

  43. Gramapama

    Mary I’m sending an order for your new book in tomorrow’s mail. … How sweet of you to make the quilt for your friend. Love how the deep red sets off the blues in the quilt! How special to have a comfort-quilt with memories of someone you love. A true treasure for sure. ❤

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