This October, in the spirit of the season, we offer you spooky stories as only quilters could appreciate. The name for this collection of ghoulish tales is Night Stitches.
A project is included with each story. Here’s this week’s pattern:
The Zombie Quilt Guild
by Emily Cross and Betsey Langford
Grace scooped spoonfuls of coffee into the brew basket, nodding thoughtfully as Fay talked at her.
“I mean, zombies. Really? It’s October. We should be working on our Christmas charity quilts.”
“We have that planned for next time, remember?” said Grace.
“But next time is our Christmas party and who wants to cram that all in one?” said Barbara, Fay’s closest friend.
“Zombies are so gross,” said Fay.
Grace switched on the coffee machine and eyed a path out past Fay and Barbara. “Gladys has worked hard all year as our program chair, and this is more about the quilt challenge than about zombies.”
“Well, I hope it’s a little about the zombies, or else I spent all night on these brain cupcakes for nothing,” said Mildred, bustling into the kitchen with tupperwares balanced in either hand and a grocery bag dangling from one arm.
“Oh, I have to see those.” Grace took one of the containers and moved to the kitchen island to sneak a peek. Even Barbara and Fay turned to look, unable to resist Mildred’s legendary food.
“They’re coming to get you, Barbaraaa!” Gladys sing-songed as she walked into the kitchen.
Barbara spun around before rolling her eyes. “Haven’t you seen any other zombie movies?”
“None with Barbara in them,” said Gladys. “Milly, those look delectably disgusting.”
“Thank you, dear.”
“Gladys, you went all out. That zombie makeup is amazing,” said Grace.
Gladys let her eyes droop and jaw fall slack to one side, lifting her arms in front of her she groaned intelligently. The effect emphasized her sallow skin, sunken eyes, and bloody skin flap revealing bone across her forehead.
“What makeup? Doesn’t she always look like that?” Fay asked on her way out the door. Barbara followed close behind, giggling.
Millie put her hands on her hips and scowled at the door. “I really hate how good she is at getting the last word.”
Everyone gathered with no more fuss and Grace handled the business part of the meeting before handing it over to Gladys.
“Does everyone have their zombie fabric?” she asked, grabbing her bundle and moving to the front of the room.
Everyone nodded and pulled out fabrics of all colors and dizzying patterns.
“Great, I have several block options with cutting directions for you to choose from on the paper coming around.” She nodded for Mildred to start passing out the handout. “They’re all written so you cut out everything the same way, but you use half of them with the wrong side out for the light fabric. It creates a cool subtle effect, but most importantly, it uses up our zombie fabric fast. I’m going to come around and check on everyone and answer questions, so get to choosing a block.”
All the quilters had a notion of what to do until Gladys reached Jo, the baby of the group, having only been coming to the Gingham Gal’s Guild for about ten years.
“I brought a couple zombie fabric options like you told me, but I can’t figure out which one to use,” said Jo.
“Let’s try flipping over the corners so we can see which has higher contrast between the right and wrong sides.”
Jo flipped one fabric and Gladys tried the other.
“This one looks the same on both sides,” said Jo.
“Oh, yes, it’s a batik. That won’t work for this, but look, your sea creature print is perfect. The right side will be the dark and the wrong side the light. Make sense?”
“I think so,” said Jo.
“What was your fabric for originally, Jo?” Mildred asked, already cutting up her fabric, a large and garish floral.
“My granddaughter went through a sea turtle phase and told everyone she wanted to be a marine biologist, so I got this thinking I’d make her something with it. But by the time I found it again, she was on to horses and being a cowgirl.” Jo shrugged.
The quilters progressed, mostly getting their fabric cut before breaking for lunch. Mildred’s brain cupcakes were a hit, second only to the brain cheeseball with finger-shaped crackers she’d made. Gladys brought a pasta salad made with cavatappi noodles, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, and red wine vinaigrette, tossed together to gory effect.
“What kind of Greek pasta salad doesn’t have feta?” Barbara said to Fay as they moved through the food line.
“I suppose we’re just lucky Mildred’s cheeseball isn’t head cheese.”
“I like a good head cheese,” said Barbara.
“That’s the spookiest thing I’ve heard all day,” said Fay.
After lunch, all the women worked hard on their zombie quilts. Everyone at some point forgot to sew opposite sides together, but none got so far along as Bernadette.
“Oh dear, I’ve sewn it correctly!” she said, putting a hand to her forehead as she surveyed her freshly-pressed blocks.
“That’s good news,” said Grace.
“No, I mean they’re upside where they’re supposed to be downside.”
“How many have you done that way?” Gladys asked.
“The whole first row.”
“I’ll help you rip.”
“Thanks, Gladys.” Bernadette shook her head. “So typical. If I were trying to sew them right, I’d sew it wrong. And trying to sew it wrong, I sewed it right!”
Everyone laughed along with Bernadette. Soon, Gladys had Bernadette reset and made another trip around the room. She paused among Fay’s cronies to admire the bear paw blocks Fay was piecing from a pinecone print.
“That is turning out so well.”
Fay looked up from her machine and swept a glance across her rows of blocks.
“I’m pleasantly surprised,” Fay admitted.
Gladys smiled and said nothing as she walked away.
“Everyone is about finished, so let’s wrap up and do a little Show and Tell.” Gladys chimed.
Making quick work of the clean up, everyone soon had project in hand and were ready to show them off. They made their way around the room, some more successful than others, then it came to Fay’s turn.
“I had this fabric for 30 years and couldn’t part with it, but I’ve never found the right project for it.” She flicked her quilt top open and held it high. The room gasped with amazement, the Bear Paws dazzled with bright and subdued pinecones.
“That’s my favorite!” Jo exclaimed, clapping her hands. Praise rose from around the room.
“Here let us hold it and you look.” Grace took one side and Mildred took the other.
“I’ll be. I have to admit, this zombie thing may have just worked out after all.” Fay beamed with pride.
Mildred waited to walk out with Grace and Gladys as they locked up the community center. “That was a long one, gals,” she said.
“I was glad to be on my feet more than behind the machine,” said Gladys.
“Today was very fun though. And you know, I think I ended up liking Fay’s quilt most of all,” said Grace.
“I’ll just be glad to get out of this get up. The fake blood started flaking a few hours ago,” said Gladys.
The women said their goodbyes and parted in different directions.
Before them, the rest of the guild members staggered their way through the parking lot, some limping a bit, others barely shuffling. With groans and sighs, they slowly coaxed their bodies into cars for the ride home. The long day of sewing might have resulted in an onlooker mistaking the group for… the zombie quilt guild.