The Tough Chickie Quilt, A Quilt About Divorce


Tough Chickie Quilt, A Quilt About Divorce 2

When my little sister in law told me she was getting divorced, I hurt for her.  She’s fourteen years younger than my husband and me, quite an age difference.  The first time I met her, she was probably in Kindergarten or first grade.  She crawled up in my lap with a Christmas catalog and showed me toys she hoped Santa would bring her.  I was beyond charmed by her.  As I said when I toasted her at her wedding, I fell in love with her even before I loved her brother, my husband of now 22 years.

Tough Chickie Quilt, A Quilt About Divorce 1

She’s grown to be a good friend, and we enjoy spending time with her so much that we’ve even shared vacations.  She’s one of my favorite people in the world.  When she said she was divorcing after five years it was like a physical blow to all of us.  This is part of the email I sent her the morning after she told us:

“Your news really threw me for a loop.  I hope you’re doing OK, and I want to do anything I can to help you, so just let me know. I’ll ramble here for a minute, but stick with me.  So, the way I pray is to do something and keep my hands busy, and I pray even better for someone in particular when I’m making something for that person.  This is why I really connected with the Japanese idea of folding 1,000 origami cranes for someone who is sick, to show them how much they’re in your thoughts.  It’s like visible prayers.  I couldn’t sleep last night, kept thinking of you two, how things are changing for you and all the crappy things you’ll have to go through in the time ahead … I have a stack of quilts in my “to do” pile, but I want to skip ahead and work on one for you, because it will help me pray for you and do something for you.  I feel like I should be doing something, so it will help me, and you’ll need a fresh start, so something new that’s just yours, maybe that will help you, too.

While I was awake thinking about you, I had an urge to make you a quilt.  It’s what I do for life events, so it doesn’t really surprise me that for a big change in your life, even one you don’t want to celebrate, I want you to have a quilt.  They’re comforting and warm, and you can nap under them.  You’ll need good naps.  Throw them across a chair and the whole room looks happier.  Happier is a good thing.  Patterns went through my mind, but I kept going back to one.  You’ll have to tell me if you like it or if you’d rather have something else, or even nothing at all.  (There is always “something else”, so don’t be afraid to tell me this one isn’t for you.)

It’s called a Japanese X & + quilt.  It’s a scrappy quilt, so it’s made with bits of every little thing.  I think that fits, because scrappy also means a fighter, and you can be that when you need it, too.  What I especially like about it is the cross at the center of each block.  It’s a reminder that God is with you, and it’s also a bit like the Red Cross, so it feels like first aid in a crisis.  And I’m choosing to think of the “X” part of it as a multiplication sign, a sign of growth and abundance ahead.”

Tough Chickie Quilt Binding and Backing=

I worked on her quilt while I worked things out in my mind and tried to fill her quilt with a little of everything.  There’s a bit of grrrrr in there, but also lots of hope and love.  Divorce is never easy.  I used many different textures and so many little things that I hope will have meaning for her.  Two blocks are made from the quilt fabric for a quilt I’m making for her parents, a nice connection between their quilts.  There are some fabrics from things I’ve made for her in the past, fabric I bought in or about places we love, and things that will hopefully just make her smile.  There’s even a block about her dog — I know she’ll like that one!

Tough Chickie Quilt, a Quilt About Divorce 3

Tough Chickie Quilt, A Quilt About Divorce 4

This quilt is a wish for a happy future for her.  It might be different than what she had planned, but it can still be wonderful.  She’s a tough chickie, I know she’ll be OK.


Quilts, for Beginnings and Endings


A joyful beginning: there’s a baby on the way!  The race is on to try to get the binding done on this Dallas Cowboys quilt before little Noah arrives.

Dallas Cowboys Quilt Unbound

We can’t wait to meet you, Noah!  (But a few more days for that binding would be much appreciated, thanks!)

And and ending: someone I care an awful lot about shocked me with the news that her marriage is over, she’s getting divorced.  Feeling that I needed to do something for her, I immediately started making quilt blocks.

The quilt will give her something warm and comforting to cuddle up in, a good excuse to take naps.  Naps will be good for her.  Throwing it across a chair will make any room feel a little happier.  Happier will be good.  And it will be something new, something that is just hers.

+ and X 16

I’m calling it the Tough Chickie Quilt because it’s scrappy (made from scraps) to remind her that she can be scrappy (a tough little fighter) when she needs to be.  So often we grow into the labels we give ourselves.  Remember you’re Tough, Chickie.

The little bits of flannel, voile, seersucker and corduroy make for lots of textural interest –this quilt will feel good under her hands.  Here’s hoping it will help soothe her heart, too.

My mind is full of beginnings, and endings and quilts.