The fabrics of our lives often end up in the quilts we make. The second-place Viewer’s Choice award at the Maumee Valley Gas Engine Association Show went to Hoagland quilter Carole Sorg’s quilt “Sunflower Memories”.
The sunflower block is also known as grandmother’s sunburst, friendship ring and dresden plate. Typically the “petals” of the first three peak at the middle while the dresden plate petals are rounded. No matter what it’s called this block along with grandmother’s flower garden and wedding ring are the three most popular patterns of the depression/WW II years although all three date back for centuries.
Carole starts her queen size quilt back in 1975. A mother of four children, progress is slow, but steady. She creates a nine-block center using pieces of fabric from 1956-1965. One block features fabric leftover from a school dress her mother made her in 1956. Another is made from pieces of fabrics saved from a lavender gingham dress she wore on her third date with her future husband Ron in August 1960 and the floral maternity top she wears two years later. Daughter Lori is featured in the quilt with a late 1960s floral fabric leftover from the quick tube top mom had to make her after she broke her arm climbing the tree she was forbidden to climb. Each block is full of memories and neatly buttonhole stitched by hand to the white base fabric.
Calamity strikes the Sorg family on Valentine’s Day 1978 when their 1940 farmhouse is destroyed by fire. Only a shell remains with much of the contents destroyed or damaged. The quilt in progress left in a cedar chest survives with only smoke and water damage. Unfortunately Carole’s first quilt, a hand quilted grandmother’s flower garden, she made as an 8th grader doesn’t survive. A pregnant Carole vividly remembers crying on February 17, their 17th wedding anniversary when she sees it on the lawn badly damaged. A friend thinking it’s a rag later picks it up and throws it in the truck to be hauled away. With the assistance of friends and professional cleaners the home is rebuilt in time to welcome their fifth child Allan in August of 1978. The “date dress” block bears the rust marks made from the metal embroidery hoop that surrounded it at the time of the fire.
Years pass and the stitching continues. The corners of the blocks have leaves, tulips and baskets inspired by the fabric prints quilted in them. The round centers sport a coordinating crocheted rose creating a fourth dimension and adding more color and interest. Carole wants to make certain every one of her quilts is unique.
The center of the quilt is separated from the rest of the quilt with a pale green/lavender border with Ohio Star corners followed by half-sunflowers all in modern fabrics. Tired of using plain white as her fabric backing of choice Carole decides (GASP!) to use light blue fabric since blue is the dominant color on the front. The quilt started in 1975 is completed in 2012.
Carole looks at the quilt and fondly remembers the moments of her life it represents. She considers her quilting talents a gift from God and gives thanks to Him for this wonderful blessing. She delights too that daughter Lori appreciates her quilt work and does beautiful long-arm quilting. Perhaps one day she will follow in her mother’s steps and make her own unique sunflower memories.
Lois Eubank is the owner of Born Again Quilts restoration studio, 4005 South Wayne Ave.