A Love Story

I was recently asked to make a quilt for my friend Sharon's sister. Sharon is also my neighbor but I think of her as a friend first and a neighbor second. Our families have grown up together for over 25 years now. We even accidentally ended up working for the same company but that's a story for another day. This is a story about Sharon's sister, Sandy. It's a story of love, caring and compassion.

I remember quite a few years ago Sharon was terribly worried about her sister's husband, Frank. Frank was struggling with falling down and the doctors could not figure out why. When they finally got a diagnosis, it was life altering. Frank was diagnosed with ALS. This horrible disease wreaks havoc on the body in unimaginable ways. Sandy was so very generous to share her family's experience with this disease through Facebook. Through photos and updates, we followed her and Frank's travels and adventures that they joyously experienced together before the ravages of the disease didn't allow it anymore. She shared the ups and downs of the health issues, the stresses of navigating the health care system, and the little things that we took for granted but they rejoiced in.

Through all this Frank never complained and Sandy never faltered in her magnificent care-giving abilities. I admire her compassion and strength and think of her as a role model when it comes to marriage and family. When Frank passed away, we all grieved for the family. We followed the love story on Facebook for so many years that even though I only met them a few times in person, I felt an intimate connection to them since Sandy shared their experience with all of us.

When Sandy asked me to make a t-shirt quilt out of Frank's special shirts I was honored and humbled all at once. Taking on the responsibility of a project like this is something I do not take lightly. I want it to be as perfect as their love story.

I worked with Sandy on the layout and design and put together the quilt top. After following their story for so long, I would walk past my sewing room and see the striped sashing strips out of the corner of my eye and remember the photos where Frank was wearing that shirt. It would make me feel a little pain in my heart for Sandy's great loss. Then I would hug my husband and hold him tight.

Once the top was finished, I started on the back. The theme t-shirts were on the front of the quilt but I still had solid color polo shirts for the back. Sandy mentioned that she would like pillows made out of the leftover shirts when the quilt was done so I started thinking about how I could accomplish that creatively. I've seen photos on Pinterest of dress shirts converted to pillows but not polo shirts. So I decided to come up with my own idea. I made sure I kept the top of the polos in tact and cut the bottoms off to use on the back of the quilt. 

Once the quilt back was completed, I put the layers together and quilted it. I used a dress shirt for the quilt binding. I wasn't sure it would be enough, but luckily there was plenty to go around the entire quilt.

Now for the was I going to accomplish my goal? I wanted to use a pre-made pillow form and make it look like it was wearing the shirt. In order to do that I had to fill in the neck hole. After staring at the shirt draped over the pillow form for a while, I figured it out...just use the sleeve! I pinned the sleeve into the neck hole and sewed it in place. It worked great. I presented a photo to Sandy and she loved it. So I made 4 more. Now I was down to scrap pieces and dress shirt parts. I made some patchwork-style pillow covers and one that used up one of the oxford shirts.

Surprisingly, I have very little left over. There's just a small pile of scraps which seems amazing considering everything I made. I am so happy I could deliver everything Sandy wanted without compromise.

Sandy picked up her quilt and pillows yesterday and she seemed very happy with the results. We took some photos together before she left. I cannot express how honored I am to be part of this important project and how glad I am that she liked the results.

I feel lucky to have a friend like Sharon to recommend me to do the work. I would like to ask everyone reading this to go to the ALS website and donate to the cause to help stop this horrible disease so maybe the next great love story doesn't have to end like this one.
Delivery Day!

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