Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Spirit of Service

There is a Baha'i proverb that says:
Work performed in the spirit of service is equivalent to worship.

This has always reminded me of my friend Andre Dacosta.  We met years ago when, as part of a church fundraiser, he came to install a lazy susan in a kitchen cabinet .  Retired, he does handyman things to keep from being bored (he claims) but it is obvious to me and the DH that he is also working in the spirit of service.  We joke that he is single-handedly keeping us out of assisted living, as he tackles the jobs that we can't do for ourselves.

So when his wife Aggie approached me to ask if I would make a quilt for him out of African fabrics that she had collected over the years (including fabric from his native country, Angola), I said "yes" immediately.

Now, dear readers, I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking:  "she just wanted to get her hands on a basket full of African fabrics."  Busted.  Guilty as charged.
Aggie kindly offered to pay me.  Pause while my fellow quilters quietly chortle.  I could not say what I usually say, which is "I don't quilt for money, I only quilt for love."  Can't say that to a woman about her husband!

I told her it would take me up to a year, and it did.  She kept the secret for that whole year.  

I knew right away what the title of the quilt would be.  I was unsure about putting a Baha'i proverb on a quilt for a Methodist, but Aggie OK'd it.   Good thing, because whatever I put on the label, to me this quilt would always be The Spirit of Service.

It needed a simple pattern that would let the fabrics shine.  Sorry, I don't know the name of the pattern nor do I remember the name of the woman who taught it at the 2011 NC TOGA.  But you start with five large squares and through some tricky inserting and pinning one of those squares emerges as the on-point center.  

FMQ tip:  if you can't be good, be wonky
I fussy cut the fabrics, some of which were deconstructed garments.   

Same yardage, cut two different ways

These are glorious, beautiful hand-dyed African batiks.

This is the fabric from Angola.
Much of the joy of quilting for me is the thrill of fondling fabrics.  A map is just icing on the cake.

The sole reason I own an embroidery machine is to put text on quilts.  (Not the only thing I use it for, but the only reason I HAD to buy one.)  Instead of a label, the information becomes part of the the design of the quilt back.
in the strippy style of Kente cloth.  No Kente cloth was harmed in the production of this quilt.

Aggie gave me this proverb, a favorite of Andre's, and I put it on the quilt without really knowing what it means.  Google Translator, for some strange reason, was unable to help me with the Kimbundu language.  But Andre translated it for me:
If you don't listen...the cows won't come.
and then he explained what it means:
If you do not listen to the wisdom of the elders, then your efforts will not succeed.  

He expressed surprise and delight.

and did I mention that Aggie told me to keep all the leftover fabric?  


  1. Such a meaningful quilt in so many ways. No wonder he loves it!

    Congratulations on scoring the leftovers!

    Which machines did you use? (Just curious.)

    1. It was pieced on a Singer 316G, and quilted on a black 15 clone, badged "Admiral Star", mounted on a Pennywinkle frame. More about that in the next post!

  2. What a wonderful thing you did for them. It is beautiful. I think your block is called a bow tie block, and I have made them. The center is folded and it looks 3d. What a beautiful, beautiful quilt. Isn't it wonderful when we can do something special for someone?

    1. yes, that's the pattern! thanks for your kind comments.

  3. Beautiful fabrics, fantastic quilt.

  4. Edna Dougherty taught that block at the 2011 NC TOGA. It's called the 10 Minute Quilt Block (check out Youtube). :) Di in TN (Treadleon Member)

    1. Thanks, Di! I was hoping that someone would chime in with Edna's name. When I got home I had lost the pattern information that she gave us but I still had a sample block and figured it out from that.

  5. Finally a reason to buy an embroidery unit! Now I just have to take up quilting...
    This is a spectacular gift, and I love your blog.

  6. Beautifully done! I love how your worked the yellow embroidered panels along with the long blue stripes into the design of the back of the quilt. He looks very proud and happy in that picture, and you are very fortunate to have him in your life.

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  8. Really impressive. I'm always inspired my embroidery but feel that I may lack the patience to apply myself properly. I love your colour combinations .


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