Wool Suit Coat Quilt

I wanted a wool quilt to go on my grandfather’s favorite rocking chair. Somehow I feel loved each time I sit there though it has been 57 years since Grandpa placed me on his knee and blew smoke rings from his pipe and I reached up to catch them. In my memories, I can still smell the Velvet brand pipe tobacco and see the distinct red tin can. It is my only memory of him. I was only three when he passed.


I’m making a masculine den that reminds me of both my grandfathers. My Welsh fine boned grandfather with his tenor voice is there in spirit in his favorite rocking chair. My large boned, deep base voiced grandpa, of Scottish decent is present in the prints of ducks from famous artist from our area. Also in the quilt I made from old wool suites I collected at the thrift store. His deep voice rumbling, we’d sing a silly song about a goat that ate three red shirts off a clothes line owned by a man named Worth. No wonder I have goats now. It reminded me of a dance when he’d fly fish and I’ve grown to love it too. He’d sit me on his knee and I’d make deep purple wooly worms, obviously not suitable for fishing, but purple was my favorite color like all little girls that age.


As challenges increase in number each year, I realize the importance of a home that is filled with things that bring comfort and warmth to my soul. Wool is one of those things and has always been. I love wool socks, gloves, coats, thermal underwear, and sweaters. I’d have soft wool blankets if I could afford them, red and black buffalo plaid of course that remind me of the wool jacket worn by my Scottish grandpa when he went hunting. I love wool suit coats with the leather patched elbows and shotguns. Not to shoot them, for I remember my grandfather’s 12 gauge and the ache in my shoulder long after I’d fired it but because they make me feel safe and well cared for. Grandpa always kept the freezer full of meat. I remember cleaning fish and pheasants, and helping feed my grandfather’s bird dog, and yes, he was the one with the wool suit coats and leather patched elbows.


Maybe that is why I had to make a wool throw for the rocking chair. It intertwined the two men I love so dearly. Wool fabric is too expensive so I went to the thrift store and bought old wool suit coats for a few bucks a piece. I cut and seam ripped larger sections and began to build a quilt of squares and rectangles. I added batting and a muslin backing. I stitched along the seams and across the middle of the rectangular pieces to make it last longer. Then I added tied heavy weight crochet thread in the squares to make it look just like the quilts my Swedish grandma had taught me to tie, only she used yarn. She made one from old heavy weight, faded curtains and placed it on my bed. That thing sure kept me warm at night, though I thought it none too pretty.

As I look around me with the increasing havoc and problems, I think we each need to look at how we can recreate. We think we’ve done a great service when we drop off our cast off items for someone else to use or recycle plastics, or paper. It is a good thing but what if instead we learned to make do and redo? For most, it is a step back in time to when life wasn’t so prosperous that we could waste resources. I’ve a feeling the near future will have need of this talent fostered in my grandparent’s day when they lived through The Great Depression.

Now to get to making potholders and pillows covers at some future date from the rest of the suit coat fabric. It isn’t that any of my sewing projects are difficult but because of time constraints, I have to pick them up and put them down many times before completion. This one quilt took me over a year to purchase the suit coats and complete. Once when my kids were small, this was a common thing for me but now…. my time is in more demand than ever before. Yet, this is when I need most that comforting feeling of being able to make do no matter how much life batters at my door.


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