A Quarantine Story in Fabric

Late in 2020, I lost my writing as well as podcast voice but eventually found a voice in fabric as I bought a sewing machine right as lockdown began in March 2020. PS. I’m 76 now and don’t feel a day over 96.

The “MJ” bag

The passport bag began with scans of my old passport stamps and then made into a repeat pattern digital file I could then have made into the fabric of my choice. It reminded me as I traveled only within my four walls that I had once traveled the world without fear.

The “Chaos” bag was azalea branch dipped into ink made from a French company that says it sold inks to Napoleon. Since Napoleon ended up exiled to an island, I bought these expensive inks in hopes the same would happen to our dictator. I used an azalea branch because a traditional brush was just not chaotic enough to express my sentiments.

The bleeding hearts bag began with a photograph I took of bleeding hearts in my condo complex. Since I was learning to sew and design fabrics, I made this photo into fabric with three backgrounds: yellow, red, and black.

2020 contained daily death numbers and slowly we all began to know someone who had the virus. Bleeding hearts seemed to express national as well as world grief over this pandemic.

My best friend of 60 years died in a long-term care facility as I was finishing this bag, not of COVID, but after 10 years of particularly cruel dementia that first robbed her of speech, then memory, and then any physical movement, including even opening her eyes. I was not able to visit her at all in 2020 because the facility was very strict about its COVID protocols. That I was not able to kiss her head or hold her hand in a year will haunt me forever. Over 540,000 families in the US know this haunting. It is inconceivable to me that my family members who passed in 1989, 1998, and 2001 would have had to die without any of their family members in the room. Inconceivable. So, the bleeding hearts bag shall carry her memory, and included in that memory is her loud, glass-breaking laugh. No one would have laughed louder at the sight of me at a sewing machine than my best friend, Mary Jane. ‘Domestic Arts” was simply not on my resume in 76 years. I call it the “MJ” bag because that’s what I called her when we were ourselves.

More flowers and plants can be viewed here.