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Across Two Continents and Three Generations
This Cotton Supreme Canvas Pixie Strips contains 40 2.5" x 44" strips of 9617-150. With this great Deal, all you need to do is pick out your favorite print Jelly Roll and you’ll be ready to make an easy, beautiful Ribbon Star Quilt. You’ll need:
1 ½ yards Outer Border
¾ yard Binding
There are so many great reasons to make a quilt, and just about as many methods of doing it. Today’s Stitched Together story is the tale of one unique quilt and its journey across two continents and three generations. A big thank you to Barbara Gerhart for sharing.
“The best years of my childhood were spent in Lesotho, a tiny mountain kingdom surrounded by South Africa. The mountains, the people, living in a vibrant international, multicultural community, have all shaped my life ever since. I was in my early teens when my family returned to the US, and we made sure we carried home special reminders of our African life.
“My mother loved the shweshwe fabric—the local patterned cotton cloth (which has recently shown up in the US as indigos or shweshwe). She had used it in skirts and shirts and table mats, but thought it would also work great in a quilt. Specifically, a log cabin quilt to show off the varied patterns and shades. So Mom collected blues and reds and packed up the yardage.
“We left Lesotho in high summer and spent our first months back in the States with my grandparents in South Dakota… in the depths of winter! Blizzards, high-plains winds and near-arctic temps were a huge jolt for us “African” children. To keep busy we read books, discovered high school basketball, and tried snowmobiling with grandpa… and Mom started on the quilt. This was 1981, and we didn’t have rotary cutters or mats or specialty rulers. She cut the shweshwe strips the old-fashioned way, by hand, using scissors and cardboard templates for each length of “log,” about 1,200 pieces!
“After our South Dakota stay, we moved to our new home in Indiana. And in the buzz of settling into our new lives, the quilt pieces were set aside for a few years. Until one summer when I came home from college. I was under-employed and needed a project to work on. I unearthed the shweshwe strips and asked if I could go ahead and sew the blocks. Mom said yes, so I started stitching away. By the end of the summer, the blocks were done and laid across the living room floor while we worked out just the right setting.
“We called our setting “Malutis and Litema.” The zig-zag chevrons represent the Maluti (mah-loo-tee) Mountains of Lesotho, and the red 4-point geometric designs reflect the litema (dee-tay-ma)—designs the women would create in the mud facing around the doorways of their homes. It’s a signature style for the Sotho people and often looks like quilting patterns in earth and stone.
“After the top was done, Mom stashed it. And when I came home from college the following year, there was the finished quilt on my bed. My South Dakota grandmother—who never visited Lesotho herself—had put the finishing touches on our African memento with her excellent hand-quilting!
“Since then, the Malutis and Litema quilt has graced beds in at least three states and still holds a precious place as one of my favorites… as the first one I worked on, as a reminder of a special childhood, and as a quilt that stitched together three generations.”
The only thing I love more than quilting fabric is quilting stories. Got a good one? Send me yours at firstname.lastname@example.org. We publish a great quilting story every week in our series Stitched Together - Stories for the Quilter’s Soul.
If you enjoy our weekly Stitched Together feature, you’ll love our books, Stitched Together Volume 1, Volume 2 and now Volume 3! Along with the stories you’ve enjoyed all year, they’re also filled with pictures of the quilts and quilters who made them.
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