Short Story: "The Namesake Quilt"

"The Namesake Quilt”

Sharon turned over the appliqué block to admire the close stitches. When she had picked up the bag of quilting scraps at the garage sale on Saturday, she hadn’t expected to find anything. Now she held a lovely Rose of Sharon block, hand-sewn roses and blue tulips on a background of white. Someone had started this with anticipation. She smoothed the fabric, already calculating which colors from her stash would best make a border and what blocks could be added. I could finish this, she thought. She smoothed the fabric again. My namesake block.

The next two weeks passed by quickly as Sharon plotted, stitched, and added rows; layers of blue, beige and maroon set off the central floral motif. She sewed the last stitch in the binding just past midnight.  Tomorrow she would stand in front of 350 quilters to show her work.

The meeting room was crowded. Quilters sat at round tables, some with projects in their laps, others chatting with friends. A hush fell over the room as the women lined up to show their work, Sharon among them.  She told the story of finding the central square at a garage sale, of wondering who had made this central block, and how much she enjoyed finishing what someone else had started.

Sharon sat down to a flurry of congratulations. A young girl hovered by Sharon’s table, Charlotte printed on her name tag. “Your quilt is lovely. I think I know who started it.”

“You do?”

“My Aunt Rose died two months ago. The week following the memorial service, two women talked my uncle into selling them everything – her fabrics, patterns, and her quilts. I heard they had a garage sale a month or so later. The family was shocked for Rose was a wonderfully gifted quilter. Everything was gone.”  Her hand reached out to the central square. “I believe she made this, for I recognize the fabric.”

“Your Aunt Rose, what was she like?”

“She was awesome.” Charlotte shook her head. “She made all of us quilts, until the cancer came. Then she began appliqué. She said it put her mind to ease.”  Charlotte blinked away a tear.  “I’m sorry. My Aunt Rose was the bravest woman. I’m so glad you finished her quilt.”

Charlotte turned away.

“Charlotte?” Sharon called. “You forgot something. You forgot your quilt.”

POSTSCRIPT:  "The Namesake Quilt" appears in The Country Register newsletter (Feb/March 2012), for distribution in Washington/E. Oregon/S. Idaho, and available as a PDF download.  

This story began as a practice writing through the Internet Writing Workshop's weekly prompt of ‘lost and found’. The story was also inspired by a quilt square I found on a table, donated with scraps to the Washington State Quilters. Though it’s not the Rose of Sharon pattern, I’ve begun to add the borders and will post another picture when the quilt is complete. We all confront loss differently. When we lose someone we love, I think we treasure what they have made with their hands. 

The finished quilt:


  1. Lovely story and lovely quilt! My mom made quilt blocks, and enough for ten quilts remained, never assembled into quilts, when she died. Our ten grandchildren now have a quilt, made from the blocks my mother so lovingly pieced.

    Mona Vanek

  2. This is beautiful, specially the pictures.
    Mira from the practice group


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