This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a few weeks now, but worried I couldn’t do the message justice. In January, my dearly-beloved friend, Calli, called to tell me about a presentation her mother, Leslie Ison, was giving to a group of women at her church. I was so excited to go.
I took my first quilt classes from Leslie about 12 years ago and I have always loved Leslie’s quilts. I love her use of color and fabrics to create works of art. Second, I just love Leslie. She is one of those calm, gentle, and wise souls that you want to be around, if only to absorb that calmness and wisdom by osmosis. Her thoughts that night were exactly what I needed in the middle of the January ‘blah’s’.
Here is Leslie speaking about life and about her quilts. (sorry, blurry inside photo.) Last summer I summarized Leslie’s advice for quilters that she shared at a trunk show. This time, the audience was mostly non-quilters, and the thoughts were about simplifying life and valuing and enjoying the basic tasks of each day. The hall where she spoke was covered in Leslie’s quilts. I think there were nearly 100. I was so inspired – both visually and emotionally – that I thought I would try and give a few glimpses of the evening, but I definitely won’t do any of it justice.
Leslie shared thoughts from three books – each of which I’ve also read and can personally recommend – Plain and Simple: A Woman’s Journey to the Amish by Sue Bender, Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and Gift from the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh – as well as scripture. I love each of these books and their reminder to put life in perspective and to really examine, and value, what matters most. Freedom and peace come with simplification.
Record your story and that of your family. Leslie has done that with many of her quilts. This quilt was made to record the story of her mother’s family. Her grandmother was one of 17 (!) children raised on a farm in Wyoming. (See the 17 siblings at the bottom of the quilt?)
Quilts summon “warmth, love & home.” They are an American art form of common women – with simple scraps they created works of art to warm their families, brighten their homes, and sometimes bury their loved ones. Make quilts with significance to you.
Finally, we’d better learn from everything that we go through. Difficult times refine us and have the power to make us stronger human beings.
For any skimmers (don’t worry, I’m one myself sometimes) I did not make any of these quilts. They were all made my Leslie Ison.
If you are looking for the patterns for any of these quilts (I get emails often after posts like this) check Geoff’s Mom’s Pattern Company as Leslie has created some of, and sewn many of, their patterns.