Tiffany Cragin passed away in August 2nd, 2014.
For some time now, Cheryl Dennison and I have been working on a memorial quilt in the studio. Actually, 2 large quilts and a small lap size quilt. The memorial quilts are for her two young daughters and husband Allen Cragin and family. We started with Tiffany's clothing. The same clothing she is wearing in the photos below before she passed away from Chordoma, Chordoma is a form of cancer that occurs in the bones of the spine and head. To learn more about finding a cure please see - www.chordomafoundation.org
Cheryl and I slowly and carefully - disassembled Tiffany's clothing, and started our work. We used as much of her clothing as we could - knowing her daughters would remember her clothes for years to come.
Tiffany loved stripes and we were able to come up with a modern look to the block settings. You can see here the blue striped dress she wore in the photo below is sprinkled throughout the quilt.
We used interfacing and started the ironing process and then started to piece her quilt together using our design wall.
We found a photo together on the internet that gave us the inspiration (shown on the design wall) and we trusted our guts we could come close to what Allen wanted in the photo.
The process was slow and Cheryl did a great job putting together the idea and worked piecing the quilt top for about 2 months until we had a nice big queen sized quilt. . With a few breaks here and there - Cheryl finished the quilt top and gave it to me for quilting. I started the quilting process which took over 8 days to quilt and bind.
Here are some of the in- process photos of Tiffany's first quilt out of three quilts for her family.
Memorial quilts are very hard. It goes without saying. It was painful for our quilting community as so many people were touched by Tiffany's life. Everyone who walked into the studio understood what we were working on. People stopped by to see the progress. The girls stopped by to see the progress. These little angels get to have something close to their skin which touched their mothers skin and it was exciting to see them happy about the quilts.
Not often, but more often than not - Cancer and loss touch our lives. In the quilting world, most of the quilters have had to fight cancer more than we care to admit. We are all touched by it in many ways. I had a moment with Tiffany while quilting this quilt. It only happened once while I was working on Tiffany's quilt. Just once.
Many times, its just impossible to ignore - when I am working on a quilt for a woman who passed away - she hangs out with me. Tiffany hung out with me for about an hour. I felt her presence into my second day of quilting her daughter's quilt. She told me it was great and she loved it. I am not a hippy, new age, church going person. But this thing happens - more than I will let on. When women pass away, they hang out with me until the quilt is finished. Tiffany only hung out for about an hour then had other things to do. She loved to travel - so I didn't expect her to stay long. She was supportive, laughed at my insecurities and I swear she said "this is so great" then bailed.
I felt the confidence I needed after her brief visit to be fearless and this quilt gave me what I needed - the promise of joy when there is loss. Thank you Allen for giving us creative freedom and trusting us to create these heirlooms for your family.
Will blog again on quilt number 2 & 3.