A Cloth Called Only Love Survives

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My son Kipp married Marnie on May 24 of this year.
Their border collie / my granddog Otto, was the ring bearer.

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It was a beautiful time . . .

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a fun time . . .

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a hectic time. Chaos ruled. Feelings rose to the surface, and some were bruised. The weather threatened. The best laid plans crumbled. As is often the case, the big life moment party passed quickly while the bills and tiredness lingered long. Despite all that, I wanted to create a cloth to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event.

So . . .

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I transferred over 400 photos to fabric

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then I stitched them to fabric used as tablecloths at the anti-rehearsal dinner The Engineer and I hosted the night before the wedding. The theme for that evening? Things That Hold Stuff Together Comma Vintage.

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As a special surprise for that night-before dinner (I don’t think calling it dessert is too much of a stretch), I rewrote the lyrics to One Day More from Les Mis, and had members of the two immediate families gather and rehearse for one hour before performing it – complete with blocking and choreographed movements, I’ll have you know – as a flash mob at the end of the evening.

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I’m guessing it’s because they were stunned, but getting only applause at the conclusion of our number, I took the microphone and, borrowing the words of my brother-in-law Donn, informed the audience that we were going to perform that song over and over and over again till we got the Rousing Standing Ovation we so richly deserved. We got it, baby. We got it right then.

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Back to the cloth ::: using the flag (because what’s One Day More without a flag) as the core, I cobbled together other blocks of left-over tablecloth fabrics (and yes, those are the lyrice – my lyrics – also transferred to cloth and stitched to the flag),

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then stitched the more than 400 photos I’d transferred to cloth (photos taken by me, by The Engineer, by my brother Jerry, my sister Jan, and by the bride and groom’s photographer),

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and added embellishments like buttons and ribbons from corsages and centerpieces, along with handles from goodie bags and anything else stitchable.

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I used only what I had on hand, you see,

and I made it work, even when things didn’t come together neatly and easily and wind up looking like they did in the image I had in mind when I started stitching.

As with most of my hymns of cloth, I did not attach a binding, instead leaving the edges unfinished and softly frayed, perhaps unraveling just a little bit here and there.

and I decided to not add a backing fabric, preferring to make visible the back side, the often unseen side, the side that bears the knots and seams that hold things together.

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As I stitched along, the cloth got bigger and bigger and bigger – more than 131″ wide and I can’t even measure the height – eventually too big to see in its entirety. Too big to see all at once.

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Having still more fabric left over – even after all the photos and flag and the small 9-patch pieces surrounding the flag – I created banners, each bearing what I consider to be a necessary component of a good, healthy, lasting marriage. (Love, Laughs, Mercy, Refuge, Fun, Awe, Space, Gumption, and Pluck) Banners that became pillars of support when I realized one morning in the dark thirty hours of stitching that I wasn’t just stitching a cloth to commemorate the wedding, I was stitching a marriage.

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And what of all the pings and chaos and disappointments?
They slowly, quietly fall away in the days since last May, so that Only Love Survives.

Champagne

Only. Love. Survives.

14 Comments

  1. jane

    this is the most beautiful ode to love, courage and beauty. You are a treasure my friend <3

    • whollyjeanne

      And once again, sugar, I thank the forces (and pine ones) that brought us together. Thank you. XO

  2. judy martin

    what an amazing story and cloth. my mouth is open.

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, Judy. Now that the wedding is officially behind us, I’m looking forward to catching up over at your place. xo

  3. Nancy

    Wow! What a testament to LOVE…that of a mother to her son & his bride, that of a wife in her own marriage of longevity, that of a large heart beating for family togetherness and a mind held captive by creative expression! How can we do anything but send big love back?!!

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, Nancy. I just couldn’t come up with a better way to commemorate this big event, you know? Of course you do. xo

  4. Merry ME

    I’m totally awestruck. This cloth is amazing. You are amazing.

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, Sugar. It’s a big one for sure. Big in many ways. Not quite finished, but almost.

  5. brandeewineb

    What a lovely, lovely gift! Such love, such care. This will be cherished!

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, Sugar. I think I’m the one who received the gift. Ah, transformation through stitching! xo

  6. Mitchgloor

    Wow! I sensed you were a deep woman.
    This was a very special gift from the heart. I know it will be treasured by Marnie and Kipp always

    • whollyjeanne

      I hope so, Mitch. I know I treasure the experience of making it. Thank you for dropping by.

  7. Tammy Truelove- Barton

    Beautiful gift and lovely story! You are one of a kind Jeanne!

    • whollyjeanne

      And so are you, my friend. Thank you.

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