This week I handed my baby granddaughter a gift that had been 46 years in the making.
One August morning in 1973, Mom and I went to the only fabric store in Fairbanks, Alaska, to buy yards and yards of heavy-duty corduroy to make parkas for the family. We’d moved up from Texas and the coats we brought with us were no match for an Alaska winter. On a tight preacher’s salary, Mom’s solution was to make our parkas.
We picked different colors for each of us—Dad’s was chocolate brown, my brother’s Navy blue, Mom chose emerald green and I selected a royal purple.
Mom dove into her task with gusto, but soon realized the enormity of the project. She spent all of September and October sewing parkas for my Dad and brother. As the temperature dropped mom was running out of time and enthusiasm, so Dad took us to a local seamstress’ shop. He bought mom and me beautiful sheepskin parkas. They were expensive but durable – I have mine to this day.
The royal purple corduroy went into a box.
Forgotten but not gone
That box made several moves with my family including stops in Indiana and Texas before making its way back to Alaska. The box eventually settled in the guest room closet of our first home in Anchorage.
In 1993, I decided to make a quit for my 3-year-old daughter, Andrea. She chose hot pink and purple. Digging through my boxes of fabric I came across the royal purple corduroy. It would make the perfect backing for the quilt.
I snipped and sewed and pieced together Andrea’s quilt, but then I ran into a problem. When I laid out the quilt top, I realized the corduroy backing was an inch-and-a-half too narrow. Stumped, I folded up the quilt, batting and backing, and put it back in the box.
This spring, my first granddaughter was born. She needed a blanket.
I went to my sewing cache and came across the long-forgotten quilt project. Laying out the fabric, my more experienced eyes immediately saw the solution to the narrow corduroy problem. I cut off the length and pieced it to the side. In less than an hour the 46-year-old project was complete.
My mom, who passed away in 2011, would be delighted to know that the fabric she purchased so long ago is keeping her great-granddaughter warm at night.