Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Margot Apple's The Name Quilt

More to add about the Margot Apple visit at the Eric Carle Museum on Saturday. Margot read her most recent book The Name Quilt by Phyllis Root which is a lovely story about a grandmother and her granddaughter Sadie’s summer vacation on a farm. The grandmother has a quilt which is made of scraps of fabric from various handmade clothing from family members. Each square is embroidered wth a family member’s name. Grandma and Sadie spend a lot of time talking about different humorous family lore all brought on by this wonderful textile. The quilt blows away in a storm and Sadie is devastated. They make a new quilt together.

I love the message in this book. I also saw such a nice connection with what I do - sewing and stitching embroidered names on things. The book has a 1930's feel to the clothing and the fabrics. Maybe I'm just living in days gone by - loving all these old-fashioned activities. It's nice to see publishers still bringing out books like these that show children the value of handmade things. It's not the type of book that will get on the NYT Children's Best Seller list unfortunately.

I first found out about The Name Quilt when Margot came to Julia's classroom and did a special program. The visit was funded by the local library and cultural council. I went to listen because I knew Margot and Julia was dying for me to come. Julia's teacher was doing a quilt unit for the month of February and I was very impressed with the things she was bringing home - how she was tying in math and English with quilts.

After Margot read The Name Quilt, the kids each made their own quilt square out of construction paper. I stayed and helped Julia and generally watched the dynamics of the classroom. Almost all the boys made Jolly Rogers. I didn't know what a Jolly Roger was - it's a skull and crossbones. Evidently I've been hiding under my own little rock. The girls made ballerinas and hearts. The kids had to make the paper quilt square for someone they loved and then they presented the idea to the class. Here's the heart square Julia made for me. They taped their own squares to the wall and made a paper quilt. The local paper sent a photographer and they got a half page the next day! It's a nice activity if you are home schooling or a librarian looking for a story-hour idea.

Thanks to Margot Apple for passing on the quilting and stitching tradition to children.


Cheryl said...

My grandmother had a quilt with a similar theme. She had 11 children and took care of more than 20 other kids from neighbourhood farms whose parents needed help, and her quilt had pieces of the kids clothing with their name and birthdate embroidered on the squares. As a child I would use the quilt for my naps and always asked her who someone was, and if she knew what happened to them when they grew up. Many of the "kids" were adults with their own kids who would come by to visit "gramma Chrissie" and I remember thinking how cool it was that I knew them.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could buy prints of her work. Her artwork has the warmth of the heart in them.

Kathleen C. said...

I didn't realize that "The Name Quilt" was Margot Apple's work. I've read that book (they sell quilt themed children's books in the quilt museum I volunteer at). It's lovely!

Ballerinas vs. Jolly Roger? (The recent pirate movies' effect I'm sure.) Hah, some things never change. As kids my brother played at being G.I.Joe while I tap danced or pretended to be Mary Poppins.

Deb said...

Oh- that quilt brought back so many memories! When I was younger, my nana lived with us, and she and I shared a room for awhile. We moved to a bigger house-and she had a room of her own (as did I). For my 16th birthday, she pieced together a crazy quilt top, with hand embroidery around each piece-and it was made of scraps of my clothes (from growing up) and of her clothes (everything from a polyester suit right to the embroidered apron pocket). By the time it was ready to be made into a quilt, Alzheimer's had robbed Nana of her memory to do so. So Mom put it all together, and I took it away to school. Nana has been gone for years now-but fondling that quilt returns me to that time, growing up. Thanks for the jog to my memory.