When selecting quilt blocks to showcase in her sampler quilt for Block-by-Block: Quilting Our Patchwork Legacy video series, Barbara J. Eikmeier prioritized a few key things—the era the quilt block was from, the quilt techniques she could showcase, and, of course, how striking the block would be within the sampler quilt’s design. But one other element influenced her decision to include two lily blocks—a nearly magical, emotional connection to that particular bloom.
Where I live in Kansas, in U.S. growing zone 5, the bright orange Asiatic Lily blooms in early June. I designed a quilt based on my cluster of lilies, making sure to include two lily quilt blocks: Prairie Lily and Day Lily Garden. The print-out of the design was pinned to my design wall for five years before becoming the sampler quilt for Block-by-Block: Quilting Our Patchwork Legacy. Here is the story behind why I included those lily blocks.
Of all the flowers in my garden the orange Asiatic lily is among my favorites because my son, as a teenager, presented it to me on Mother’s Day. Planted in a 4” pot, the first two buds were just cracking open when he placed it in my hands. I kept it on the table until the last of the petals dropped and the leaves began to yellow, then I dug a hole under the dining room window and planted it in my Pennsylvania flower garden. Each year when that lily bloomed, I became nostalgic remembering the day my young son handed it to me.
In 2008, we moved from Pennsylvania to Kansas. I dug up Eric’s lily and moved it to my new home—also growing zone 5! His lilies now bloom under my sewing room window each June.
On the morning of June 7, 2015, I was working in the sewing room. It was an anxious morning for me. My daughter-in-law was in labor and things weren’t progressing normally. A C-section was scheduled for that morning. I hadn’t slept well and awoke feeling worried for Eric’s wife and baby girl. Living two time zones ahead of them didn’t help – it meant I had even longer to wait to hear that all was well.
Needing something to occupy my mind, I went to work in the sewing room.
Gazing out the window, as I ironed, I saw when the sun crested over the roof of the house casting bright sunlight on my gardens. That’s when I noticed that the first blossom on Eric’s lily had opened. Just then my phone chimed with the news: Baby Etta was here. Mom and baby were doing fine.
Eric’s baby was born in California at the same moment that his lily was blooming in my garden in Kansas. It was an event deserving of a quilt design. I put away my project and began to design a sampler quilt featuring lily blocks. As I clicked away on the computer rotating and moving blocks the first pictures of my granddaughter arrived via text message. The rest of the day was for smiling. I printed the design and wrote, “Lilies for Etta” across the top because, as I tell her every year on her birthday, “My lilies bloomed the day you were born.”
The Block-by-Block: Quilting Our Patchwork Legacy series is brought to you in part by: