The Spatula

When my Mom’s friend Val passed away, Mom went to her estate sale and bought her spatula. It was a pretty nice spatula, with a little lip on it that you can hook onto the side of the bowl so the spatula doesn’t slip down inside the bowl.

But the greater purpose of this particular spatula is that it is a reminder of Mom’s friend Val. We all refer to this kitchen utensil as Val’s Spatula, and Mom thinks of her friend every time she uses it.

When my retreat friend Beth passed away a couple of years ago, I was hoping to find a “spatula” of my own to remind me of her. So, I headed out to her estate sale on a Saturday morning this April – and lo and behold, I found a set of wedge rulers (and everyone knows rulers are the “kitchen utensils” of quilting!).

Beth’s taste in fabric was a lot brighter and more modern than mine, so I didn’t really expect to find any fabric, but she must have bought a few pieces of fabric that she later decided were too drab and never used. I even got a few olive greens that I think might work for Dear Jane blocks. I’m pleased at the prospect of putting a little piece of Beth into my quilt.

Here is a photo of the wedge rulers and the green fabrics with potential:


At the same time the sale was going on, I was working on this triangle block. Despite the two tiny triangles and the melon appliqué, the block wasn’t super complicated. It went together as smoothly as a silicone spatula.

The trick was realizing it should be assembled diagonally. First, you put together several small sections:


Then you sew the top section to that one piece on the right side. There are four sections going diagonally down the middle that you sew together all in a row. And the bottom left section stays on its own. Then you just have three diagonal rows to sew to each other.

Note: it looks like when I printed out the pattern pieces, I forgot to mirror them, but that is okay. Unlike a spatula, this block is symmetrical. Just know that your diagonal sections might be the opposite diagonal of mine. The process is still the same.

This was my sole Dear Jane block in April, but I did meet my monthly UFO Challenge goal, including 18 triangle motifs on the rainbow quilt, plus I got two more blocks sashed and sewn to the six I’d already assembled, so it feels like the Dear Jane quilt is really coming along:


As I was stitching on the pieces at the top of this triangle block, I decided that the light green triangle and super thin rectangle pieces at the top of the block even look kind of like a spatula if you squint just right.

So, in addition to some fabrics that might make their way into the quilt, I’ve also got this spatula block to remind me of Beth … and of Mom’s friend Val.

4 thoughts on “The Spatula

  1. Being in a guild as long as I have, we have lost many special quilting friends. Recently a very close friend. Being tasked with dispersing what was left of her supplies and stash (she had slowed down already gotten rid of a lot already) I did keep a couple of things that I use quite often. And, as you say, every time I use it I think of her. I think many of things we’ve acquired are that way. I like to quietly say to myself every time I think of them that I miss them. ….and I do…. love this post.

    1. Yes! Just the process of quilting often makes me think of those quilting friends who have passed on, but to work with a little bit of fabric or a tool of theirs really brings on the memories.

  2. This is a sweet story. I hope you always remember your friend fondly when you use her rulers.
    (I have my grandma’s potato masher and measuring spoons–mundane things no one else wanted from her estate sale. But I love them because my grandma used them so often and I think of her every time I use them.)

    Love seeing your progress on this quilt and all the little construction tips you share.

    1. It seems silly that these things would matter so much, but they do. I have a pin cushion from my great-grandmother’s estate that I’ve been using for almost three decades. Some of the filling is starting to leak out, but I don’t want to replace it with just any old generic pin cushion. So, I very carefully poke the pins back into it every time I use it. And then I knock on wood or perform some other superstitious ritual, just in case. :)

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