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Quilting For a Special Little Boy

Jeresther Thorpe, And I Quilt personality, Principal, Mom, and Quilter, joins us again this week with her story of quilting for a special little boy. She shared a couple of weeks ago just what quilting means to her and what she gets from quilting. Sometimes we are called to do something hard, something big, something important. Quilters have what it takes! Here is Jeresther’s story:

Quilting For a Special Little Boy

As I shared, I find healing, peace, joy, celebration, and life in quilting, which is why most of my quilting (completed quilts) are done and gifted to others. This summer, I was honored to participate in a “Dream Come True” room makeover project for a special little boy.

Earlier in the school year, I nominated a student from my school for this special project. He had lost both of his parents to gun violence, most recently his mother this past October. This little guy, six years old, had now lost both of his parents. Of course, he was struggling with sleeping at night, and he spent many days and weeks following his mom’s death in my office, curled up in one of my blankets or quilts for a short nap, a safe place to rest.

A service project for teen leaders

In my nomination, I wrote, if we could give K.S. a room or space specifically designed to provide him with a place to rest, dream, and hope, it would be life-changing. He needed to feel warmth, love, and security again; then, he could rest and begin to dream again. Needless to say, he was selected, and the project theme was formed. The “Dream Come True” Room Makeover Edition of the Southeastern Regional Teen Conference Service Project of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Teen leaders from 5 States raised over $4000 for K.S.’s room make-over.

Due to the pandemic, there were many delays with product and material deliveries. But it didn’t stop a determined mom, principal, and designer fueled by a group of teens wanting to make this happen!

Quilt for a specail little boy

Making it special

As we were getting to know K.S. and gain a better understanding of his home life, the sadness and loss was woven in the very fabric of their lives, his little brother, his grandmother now caretaker, and his life and living space. Even though we had connected K.S. to a special program and summer camp designed to support his grief and healing, as well as family counseling, the family was struggling with moving forward and managing his mother’s personal items and things. So the designer and I were asked to find a healthy way to honor his mother’s memory within his room design.

The designer created a memory box to house and display small keepsakes. I was asked to make a memory quilt for K.S. His grandmother had gathered a few of his mom’s clothing items; her favorite pajama shirt, a work shirt, a t-shirt, and her favorite comfy dress.

As a mom, principal, and quilter, my heart was overwhelmed with the honor of this request and the need to make it as special as humanly possible.  And then I had a quilter’s panic attack.

An important quilt

Oh, my goodness did I!  Now, remember, I find life and healing in quilting, and it was time to bring those energies forward. But all I could do was pray. For a moment, I was so afraid that I could not do it.

This quilt was so special and the fabric of his mother’s memories. At age six, he doesn’t fully understand his grandmother’s request.  To have these special fabrics, a shirt, PJs, and a dress, made into a quilt, but one day he will. And I thought, “Can I do it justice?” I am a newbie in so many ways; this quilt deserves a world-famous, highly experienced quilter. I started looking for my rolodex. And then I saw his little face. All those weeks he spent curled up with a quilt or blanket in my office trying to find a few minutes of escape from his sadness and loss.

 

I remembered why I quilt, and I knew I had to make him this quilt. More importantly, I knew it would be perfectly wonderful. Because in the many nights to come, K.S. would be able to wrap himself in a quilt that would bring him warmth, sweet memories, and dreams. Each stitch, pieced and quilted, was a prayer for K.S. that all of his dreams will come true.

With hope for a better tomorrow.

Thank you Jeresther for summoning your quilter super powers and rising to the task of quilting for a special little boy. And thank you for sharing your story. I know it will inspire our readers.

And I Quilt Personality, Jeresther Thorpe

This week we hear from And I Quilt Personality, Jeresther Thorpe. Jeresther is a school principal, a mom, and she quilts. All of us who quilt know the process of starting a project, bringing the fabrics together and and having the pieces fall into place to create that warm, comforting thing of beauty that we know as a quilt. It takes a lot of thought, effort, and time but in the end it’s all worth it. A lot of things in life are like that. Jeresther knows this very well……

And I Quilt

In the midst of the pandemic, like everyone, my life was turned upside down. As public school elementary teachers and principals, it went against the very fibers of our beings not to be in school. For educators, the spring semester is like the biggest Quilt Festival & Show all in one. All of our students’ excellent work and growth are on display. The pieces are coming together to make this beautiful quilt. We adjusted the pattern and dimensions along the way to make it “just-the-right fit.” Now it’s quilted with these beautiful designs, some strategic and some totally wild and free, but beautifully made. It’s a true celebration of accomplishment; we share our techniques and strategies as we begin planning for next year’s design.

Quilting for Healing

Just imagine the loss of not being together in person. Not celebrating the school year’s successes or closing traditions of one school year while planning for the next. In the midst of it all, we kept learning and moving forward. We changed our platforms and learned to navigate this new frontier of remote learning in a virtual world. As passionate and committed educators, we rose the occasion. At the end of many long days, I found myself in my sewing studio in front of my Sweet Sixteen, releasing and receiving energy through free motion quilting.

Jeresther thorpe

Allowing my mind to relax and wonder while learning new techniques and creating new designs. Thinking of the next steps for work. I have always valued Arts in Education. I genuinely believe it enhances students thinking and problem-solving skill development and supports cross-curriculum concept development. As a quilter, I see pattern pieces in curriculum development and design. You have to have foundational techniques to move to the complex-piecing, from a simple four-patch to the disappearing nine patch to a paper pieced hexagon-star quilt. We start at the necessary foundation, and we build the top, add in the supports, batting, and backing. Then we quilt the design, bringing the top, middle, and backing together to create something substantial and lasting. The thought and process is a healing experience that leads to the next design, to dream, to hope.

Thank you Jeresther!

I think many of us dove deep into our quilting as we navigated our way to deal with what is going on in the world. And you have inspired us to learn from our quilting experiences and apply them to the very fiber of our lives.

Please take a few minutes to watch Jeresther’s And I Quilt video which we are featuring this month. You’ll be even more inspired!

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