Stephen F. Austin State University

A quilt made with the hands of love (November 2013)

A quilt made with the hands of love
By Rickey Robertson

In the south one of the oldest traditions that have been kept by many of the ladies over the many years is that of quilting. Quilting is a special art form of its own and it is slow and time consuming and I encourage each lady who is involved in quilting. But even though it takes time, the end result is a beautiful quilt. And let me tell you on a cold night there is nothing like having a good warm quilt on the bed. Most ladies who quilt will tell you that at least once in their lifetime they make a special quilt. Even though every quilt is special, some are made of materials that have special meaning. Our story is on a special quilt made by Sylvia Evans Brown who lives in the little Clearwater Community located in Ward 2 of Sabine Parish.

Sylvia Evans Brown was born in the Clearwater Community in 1921 and has resided there most of her life. She learned to quilt out of necessity. Sylvia's mother had been confined to the hospital in New Orleans due to tuberculosis and being the eldest child, she had to take care of her younger 2 brothers and 4 sisters for 3 1/2 years. Times were hard and the winters were cold with the only heat in the winter being a fire place. At age 13 Sylvia got her Grandmother Elizabeth Evans to show her how to use patterns and to make blocks. Her Aunt Maggie Evans came over and began to help Sylvia learn quilting and she helped her lay out the quilts and frame them on Blanche Evan's quilting frames. Sylvia was so enthused in quilting that the first summer she made 7 quilts! Everyone in her family had a quilt for the winter. As Sylvia would need items to make quilts with, she would write out an order for cotton, thread, and printed cloth and give it to the post man who would drop off her order at Wright's Mercantile Store in Florien. The next day the post man would arrive with her order and she would work further on her projects.

Beginning in July 2012 Sylvia began making working on her special quilt. This quilt was to be made and given to her great nephew and would be made from neck ties that came from the great grandfather, grandfather, and father of this child. Sylvia began with 45 neckties that she took apart and steam ironed. In September 2012 she began cutting the ties into a bow tie pattern and sewed them into 6 inch squares. She made 180 blocks made from these ties. She finished the quilt top on February 10, 2013 and began putting on the border on February 16, 2013. She started the actual quilting on March 5, 2013 and finished on August 1, 2013. Besides all the ties and other materials, she used 1 pound of cotton batting and 2 rolls of quilting thread. When the quilt was completed it fit a double bed and it measured 76 x 93. A quilt of just the right size!

In her lifetime Sylvia has made dozens of baby quilts and regular quilts, crocheted 3 full sized bed spreads, 6 large table cloths, and she has crocheted over 700 doilies of all shapes, sizes and colors, dozens of afghans, slippers, baby clothes, baby caps, pillow cases, and she has made clothes for many people along with sewing of all types . And she is still working on more! And as a piece of history she has the very first quilt she made for herself in 1942. When her husband was shipped overseas early in the war she had time to finally make a quilt especially for herself. Made from various scraps and bits and pieces of cloth she made the quilt. And even after the use of many years, the quilt is still in great shape. But it is special and she now keeps it put up and preserved. I think one reason this quilt has lasted so long is due to the expert workmanship she puts into everything that she makes and most of all, the love she has for each item as she makes them.

My wife Patsy, who is Sylvia's cousin, and I went and saw this beautiful quilt and took photographs of it. Such a beautiful quilt with such a great pattern made from the neckties. In 2 Timothy 2:15 the scriptures tell us to be "a workman that needeth not to be ashamed". Sylvia Evans Brown is just such a workman. She does not have to be ashamed of anything she has ever made by hand. Sylvia, the quilt is so beautiful. Yes, it is a true work of art just as everything you make. You are a special person who has such special talents in making all these handmade items.