Quilts of quarantine
Among other things, Belinda Holbrook knits, makes wooden ornaments, reads, and is a devoted volunteer. Prepandemic, she volunteered at the Habitat QC ReStore and Hope at the Brick House, sang in the church choir, and participated in four knitting groups. Needless to say, she filled her days with different places and faces.
“I get on kicks and do a lot of one thing for a while; right now, it’s quilting,” she said.
Belinda made her first quilted piece in high school, a pillow she crafted from a kit given to her by her mother. She didn’t practice the skill again until the 1990s when she decided to tackle quilt tops. Since then, Belinda has been committed to the art form.
Constant learning is essential to Belinda’s craft. Over the years, by borrowing books, she has saved $19,000 (an amazing statistic provided by the library clerk’s desk) at the Davenport Public Library. A portion of that amount has come from quilting books that Belinda has scoured the pages of to find helpful advice and patterns.
Over the past year, Belinda and her husband have been on pandemic lockdown multiple times in their living community. She credits her ability to channel her pent-up energy to quilting in these times. Belinda expresses gratitude to her husband, who enjoys doing the daily housework and cooking while she dives into her creative ventures.
With the surge of time at home, Belinda has increased her quilt production speed. She recently finished her 15th quilt top of quarantine (as of press time). Her 11th was the first one she created without a pattern or guidance; it’s an original. It so happens that it is her favorite one so far.
“It looks like pinwheels. I call it my happy quilt,” she said
Belinda has made nearly all of her quilts this year from fabric scraps she had in her home. She started by piecing the quilts and sending them to a Missouri gentleman who then quilted and returned the finished product. Recently Belinda has started quilting the projects on her own.
Beginning with a straight method, she took to her sewing machine to explore yet another skill. She has gradually worked her way to the free-motion style. Belinda describes it as turning off the “pull” of a sewing machine and using your hands to guide the fabric through.
There are many different ways to use quilts; on walls, hanging fixtures, or beds. Belinda’s home does not have enough wall space to display all of her quilt projects, so she has gotten creative with her display methods. One innovative example is a fence that Belinda purchased at the Habitat ReStore and repurposed as a quilt hanger in her living room.
“I don’t really care how people use them; I just make them because it’s fun,” she said.
During a bizarre year, quilting has been a lifesaver for Belinda. The hobby gives her something to look forward to each day. She has appreciated the quick transitions and dynamic aspects of the craft. “Switching from cutting to ironing to laying out to sewing keeps things interesting,” she said.
Belinda uses two spaces in her home for constructing her projects. The living room floor serves as a drawing board to layout, arrange, and rearrange her fabric. Next, she moves to the spare bedroom, also known as her craft room, to assemble the projects. Quilts have served as gifts for many people in Belinda’s life, such as a college send-off for her now daughterin- law. Belinda’s mother, who lives in Kanawha, Iowa, was a recent giftee of a quilting project, and her grandson, who lives in Portland, will be the next proud owner of the quilt of his choosing. Sharing these unique gifts has been a way for her to connect with family no matter the distance.
With finished products, Belinda takes to Facebook to display to friends and family near and far. She delights in the feeling of accomplishment when she posts a photo of her newest work, and her Facebook friends are joyed as well.