The Story of Lulu’s MuuMuu’s Memory Quilt.
It’s time to pour that second cup of coffee and snuggle deep in your lap quilt to sit back and enjoy this touching story by guest writer, Irma Cortez for The Quilt Rambler…fair warning, you may need tissues….Karen
This is the first of my stories about the various quilts that my friend, Karen Overton, has made for me – this one is specifically about the memory quilt she made for me using my mom’s muumuus.
First, some background information…
My name is Irma Cortez, and my mother is Lucy Cortez. She was a quilter. She lovingly and meticulously made quilts by hand. My mom was affectionately called, “Lulu.” It was what the first grandbaby pegged her with, and it stuck.
I remember that my mom would sit at her quilting rack for hours and hours, for weeks and weeks, and months and months as she would work on a quilt and stitch and sew endlessly while watching her favorite soap operas on TV.
My mom first started out making baby quilts one by one for all of her grandchildren. My parents had eight (8) children. Little did she know then how many grandchildren she would eventually have when she first started, but quilting soon became a life-long obsession of love and passion for her.
In between making baby quilts, she also began making quilts for various friends and family members, especially each of her children. She would have various quilt projects in process, working on them simultaneously depending on which patterns she felt like working on at any given time. When each quilt was finished, my mom always hand-embroidered either her whole name or her initials on each of her quilts. If one quilt happened to take longer than a year to complete, she would always be sure to put both the year that she started that quilt and the year that she finished making it. If she felt like it, or if we were lucky enough, sometimes she even stitched the person’s name on it that she had made the quilt for, which has helped us to identify our quilts through the years.
My mom’s quilts were very well made and became very popular. She was a perfectionist and each stitch was carefully and lovingly sewn and stitched with exact precision. There were plenty of times she would not like some stitches, and she’d take them out, and re-do them if needed.
More often than not, Lulu made her quilts as a token of love and would gift them to special friends and loved ones. She would start a new quilt for family when she heard that a new baby was coming; however, sometimes she made quilts for people that wanted to pay her for her baby quilts.
When she was getting paid, it was not unusual for her put all her personal quilt projects on hold to start and finish those quilts for “paying” customers. My mom’s thinking was that the more quilts she sold to paying customers, the more quilting materials she could purchase and stockpile for future projects. And there were lots of stockpiles!!
In 2008, my mom suffered a massive stroke, and she was unable to quilt during the time she was hospitalized or while she was recovering in rehab. It took the entire year before she was able to resume her love of quilting again.
Sadly, Lulu suffered another massive stroke in July 2009, and she passed away on 7/23/09. At her memorial service family members decided to showcase just a small selection of her many handmade quilts displayed amongst various family pictures and photos of her grandchildren. All who attended were astonished at all the beautiful quilts she had made and expressed high praise for them.
Following her funeral family members gathered to help clean out our mother’s house and decided to distribute her personal belongings to those that wanted them.
It should be noted that quilting was not my mom’s only passion. She also loved and collected Hallmark ornaments, Coca-Cola ornaments and collectibles, and also ceramic roosters of all shapes and sizes.
There were so many Christmas ornaments – literally hundreds and hundreds of them, that we were each able to selected those ornaments that were sentimental to us for various reasons.
By mutual agreement, we decided to donate the majority of her clothes to the Goodwill or a women’s shelter. However, while we were separating and packing her clothes, I noticed her large collection of “muumuus,” and at one point, I started separating those that I knew had been her favorite ones.
This is when and how I decided to make a memory quilt from my mom’s favorite items of clothing, and this is also how Karen Overton comes into the story.
Luckily, I’ve known Karen Overton from attending the same church for years and years. I knew that she was a quilter, and I told myself that I’d call her one day to discuss making a quilt for me.
I took all of my mom’s “muumuus” that I wanted home with me, I washed & dried them, and then I folded them and put them in a plastic container where they stayed for almost two years. I wasn’t sure why it took me so long, but, the old saying, “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” probably had something to do with it, but once I was ready, I contacted Karen to ask about making a memory quilt.
After our initial phone call, I met with Karen at our scheduled time, and it was then that I learned what it takes to make a memory quilt. Admittedly, I was thrown aback when Karen informed me that I had to decide what size quilt I wanted, what pattern I wanted, which colors to include in the quilt, etc. I never knew all the decisions that were required to make a quilt, and the attention to detail that is required.
Fortunately for me, Karen had a nice little studio set up and she showed me plenty of her own quilts, and some of the projects she was currently working on. She was very helpful and informative in explaining the various parts of a quilt and how the quilting process comes together. Even though it had been 2 years, I was very emotional at our first meeting, and Karen recognized how tenderhearted I was with my mom’s clothes. She didn’t rush me for decisions, instead, she let me take the time I needed to decide what I wanted.
Once I decided that I didn’t actually want a full sized quilt to put on a bed, we discussed the various sizes for a lap throw quilt instead. With Karen’s help and assistance, I finally chose a 3 X 4 quilt (also called a 12-square quilt), which means it has 3-squares across and 4-squares down, measuring approximately 53” x 70”.
Since I had plenty of muumuus to pick from, Karen made sure to ask all the right questions that helped me better decide which of the muumuus I would use for the quilt, i.e., which were Lulu’s favorites? did any of the muumuus have stains or tears on them further indicating being her favorites? were there ones which could provide a more sentimental touch to the quilt? which one’s did I like most? what colors did I want to use, was there a specific room I felt I would use it in? etc.
With Karen’s help, we went through all the muumuus again and I picked all the ones that I knew my mom had worn the most – and it turned out that I had photos of my mom wearing some of them!
My mom was always a happy person, I recall she always had a smile on her face, and she always eager to sit down and talk and visit with friends or anyone anytime. With Karen’s guidance and assistance, I knew that I wanted a cheerful and bright quilt, one that would make me feel good and happy each time I used it, and that would always remind me of my Mom.
As luck would have it, the muumuus that I had selected had a variety of bright colors in them – pinks, yellows, greens, and blues. So, I opted for a bright yellow trim for the sashing, and a bright pink for the cornerstones and the backing.
I ABSOLUTELY love, love, love this Memory Quilt!!
It is the perfect size to curl up with on the couch or on top of my bed while I’m watching TV. I use it all the time, and I get a warm, fuzzy feeling each time I use it.
I love how Karen helped me to color-coordinate the trim (binding) with the back of the quilt to match the squares!
Once Karen contacted me that my quilt was finished, I went to pick it up and I cried. It was such a sentimental moment for me to see my mom’s favorite muumuus all together, in one place on a memory quilt.
Karen Overton has made three (3) quilts for me – one was a queen-sized quilt for my son using his high school spirit shirts, and two others which were both memory quilts – this one for my Mom and another one for my brother.
I knew that I wanted to have this quilt monogrammed and chose a bright pink thread to match the quilt and it turned out beautiful.
Long story short, my Mom graciously and lovingly made many quilts for me throughout her life for various occasions, i.e., several baby quilts for my son, a blue & white king-sized quilt to match my blue & white bedroom, the first quilt she ever made me was a red twin quilt with boats on it, etc.
I am very warm natured, and I don’t generally use quilts to sleep with at night, so, all my quilts have almost always just been stored in closets and only used when the weather changes.
However, throughout the years, I have since purchased and/or acquired several quilt racks from garage sales or resale shops, and now I have some of my favorite quilts that my Mother made me proudly hanging in my home.
I will always cherish these special quilts, and I will pass them on to my son one day, and hope he will care for them and cherish them as I do.
Thank you Irma, for sharing Lulu’s story with us. Irma will be sharing her stories of her son’s t-shirt quilt and her brother’s memory quilt in a future blog.
*As a special notation – at the time of commissioning this quilt the option to monogram was not available. The Quilt Rambler now offers this service on all Memory Quilt.
This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, helping to tell YOUR story one quilt at a time.
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