by Geoffrey Line
After eighty-nine years, five kids, two C-sections, one kidney transplant, nine grandchildren, three great-granddaughters, and two titanium hips, Queen G has graced us with her boldest creation yet—just when the internet wasn’t looking. Guaranteed to blanket in warmth and give you all the feels, motherfuckers and gentlemen: a stitched in the ditch, straight cut, foundation-piecing hexagon quilt that’s lit AF.
Boasting exquisite fat quarters, palpable loft, on point mitered-corner borders, and an inclusive use of negative space, this piece doesn’t just showcase a seamstress at the top of her game. It sets a whole new bar for quilting while sewing wildly disparate fabrics together—paying homage to traditional designs and redefining the art-form to make something new. The result? A hypnotic rectangle of eye-candy, a tantalizing tapestry of textiles destined to induce you into a tea-sipping, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Reader’s Digest frenzy.
To discuss the masterpiece and better understand its creation, I called up my favorite octogenarian and badass bitch for an exclusive rocking chair interview.
Thanks for making time, Grandma. I realize this is a bit of a whirlwind right now.
I just drew a bath. I was in the tub when you called. I could hardly hear the phone because I had my hearing aids out. I don’t like to have my hearing aids in when I’m in the bath.
Afraid they’ll fall in the water?
The bubbles sound too loud.
You’ve made quilts for grandchildren, great-grandchildren and homeless youth. What made you want to dedicate this one to Jeopardy contestant, James Holzhauer?
Well, I think he’s an intelligent young man and I’m grateful for his company. I watched him on the big TV every night at 7:30.
Can you give a sense of your creative process?
Day to day, what’s going on in the life of Grandma?
I take my medication. I draw a bath. I use a bar of soap for my hair. I have a bit of breakfast. If it’s warm outside, I’ll have cereal. If it’s cold, I might heat up some porridge. I let the dogs out. Depending on the day, I may have reading club or choir. Before bed, I remove my dentures to allow my gums and bone a chance to relax. Somewhere in there, I quilt.
One of the most defining things about your career is just how prolific you’ve been. For decades now, you’ve been churning out designs without stop. How?
Oh, I don’t know about that. I do like a good sit. But I like to garden. I like to keep moving. I may have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, but I’m a big believer in exercise, blood flow and calcium. Lots of calcium, and peas.
Anyone who’s followed your work closely has had the privilege of seeing your style evolve over time. In the early days, you’re stab stitching scrappy baby crib counterpanes. In your empty-nest years you’re more experimental with stippling. But this quilt is a bold departure. What made you want to finally ditch the animal patterns?
Can you speak louder, dear?
I think sometimes we see art like this and forget that it doesn’t just happen, you know. What inspired you?
I’m sorry, I still can’t hear…
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT WHEN YOU MADE THIS QUILT?
This quilt? Well, I tell you. I’d just picked out fat quarters from the fabric store for a new project. I had the thought to make something in time for spring, when I got a phone call from the retirement home down the road. My friend Mary had passed. We had known each other since our early days in nursing school. We were a great group of friends, Mary, Ethel and I. A week later I got another phone call. Ethel had passed. Two months after that, Mary’s daughter passed. Then Ethel’s dog passed. A little after, my doctor passed. Then my mailman, too. And so, when I sat in this rocking chair to quilt, I suppose I was thinking about friends who are gone and the passage of time.
Just a minute now, I have to let my dogs out to make water.
Obviously how you share sewing is different today; there are so many new ways to get your quilt out there. How do you feel about a behind the scenes Netflix doc?
I don’t know what that is.
A lot of critics have homed in on the predominance of reds and blues in this design, and the clear lines you use to separate them. What does this quilt have to say about bipartisanship and American political discourse in 2019?
I voted Republican because that’s what your Grandpa used to do, if that’s what you mean.
Do you find you’re treated differently since your magnum opus?
No one questions my Golden Years discount anymore.
For the purists out there, what’s the best way to experience this quilt? Hanging on a wall? Draped over a chair?
I just want someone to use it and be warm, really.
I fucking love you Grandma.
Ok. You too, honey.
After something so monumental, what’s next for you?
I have to be at the eye doctor at 10:15.