A Coin Quilt for Lyle 

Let me start by saying that I REALLY lucked out in the father-in-law department. Like, holy moly, you wouldn’t believe it.

A blue, grey, and yellow patchwork quilt is folded several times while laying on a brown floor.

And while I’m sure I would have made Lyle a quilt sooner or later, my timeline was compressed when he was unexpectedly hospitalized (in the ICU) in May 2024. 

The entire family swooped in to visit his bedside. We huddled together as we almost lost him. Then we were shocked as he miraculously bounced back (the nurses were confused and amazed) and I returned to normal life.

What did I do while he remained in hospital to recover? I made him a quilt.

Choosing a pattern

I wanted this quilt to come together FAST. Although I was back at home, I had plans to visit him in the hospital in a week. I needed a pattern that would be easy to make, and somehow represent his essence.

Lyle was a farmer before retiring, and out here on the prairies the fields are large and unbroken (often a square mile). I wanted a design with strong, straight, perpendicular lines that evoked the visual patchwork of the fields as seen from above.

I had a vague idea of floating rectangles, and a google search turned up the term “coin” quilt. A quick search later, and Emily Dennis’ Coin pattern popped up. I immediately knew it was THE ONE. 

A blue, grey, and yellow patchwork quilt is twirled from the center.

Choosing Fabric

When it comes to wardrobe, Lyle would be described as a blue jeans, shirt, and gray ball cap kind of guy. I used those colours as my main palette, choosing a variety of blues and grays from my scrap stash. 

It needed a bit more “oomph” so I added a colour that’s quintessential to Saskatchewan farmers: yellow. The canola fields bloom in July, and produce a shockingly vivid sea of golden flowers. It's amazing to see miles and miles of the brightest yellow you can imagine. Not familiar with this sight? Have a look here (yes, it really is that bright).

I chose an Essex yarn dyed fabric (in black) for the background fabric, because I wanted this quilt to be used without fear. As pretty as they are, I find that people are afraid to actually snuggle a quilt with a light / white background. Plus, Lyle would never be seen in winter without his black freezer coat, so it seemed fitting. 

Closeup of a gray dog print fabric with wavy stitching.

I made sure to include some fun prints, such as dogs and cats to represent the animals that he knew and loved over the years. 

Quilting

The quilt top came together in a day (thank you chain piecing!), and then I needed to make some decisions about the batting and backing. 

A finished quilt top with blue, gray, and yellow fabric with dark grey background fabric.

Despite being a big guy, Lyle liked to be warm, so I wanted to make him a poofy, snuggly, cozy, quilt. I scrounged in my cupboards and found a lap-sized wool batting. It was *just barely* too small for the quilt top, so I altered the borders to be an inch narrower. That gave me the clearance I needed to use the wool batting, which produces a drapey, soft quilt. Win!

A blue, grey, and yellow patchwork quilt  lays on a brown floor with one corner flipped over.

I needed to make a quick trip to Fabriculous in Brandon MB to pick up an appropriate sized Fireside backing. It’s so soft and snuggly and the perfect match to the front - a dream come true!

When it came to longarming this project, it was an easy choice. We have spent countless hours at the lake with Lyle, his wife Jean, and often her sister Hilda. If you want to see a happy person, picture Lyle fishing in his boat, saying “Sure is a nice day out today.”  

So waves it was! I chose the Good Vibrations panto which makes me think of gentle ripples on the lake (rather than stormy whitecaps). 

A blue, grey, and yellow patchwork quilt  lays on a brown floor and is seen from an angle.

Binding

That just left the binding fabric. I auditioned a variety of fabrics before landing on this striped design. 

I couldn’t help it - I HAD to include a nod to the day I met Lyle. When I saw him for the first time, he was wearing a pair of striped overalls. I will never forget the image of him helping his boys build a deck at the lake, looking every bit like a train conductor the entire time. He made quite the impression! 

A blue, grey, and yellow patchwork quilt  lays on a brown floor and is folded in order to see all four corners at once.

I was hand stitching the binding when I got the call.

Gifting the quilt

After his amazing recovery, Lyle’s health wavered. It seemed like he was doing better, and then he’d have a dip, and then suddenly be doing better again. We weren’t sure what each day would bring, but he was generally stable. We were looking forward to him being released from the hospital soon. 

Then one day in early June 2024, he took a sharp turn, declined rapidly, and they weren’t able to save him.

It came as a shock to us all, especially after the rollercoaster of emotions only a few weeks earlier. 

I have never been more grateful for quilting, as it gave my hands something to do while I waited for news as the day unfolded. I am not joking when I say that every inch of this binding was stitched with love.

I'm sad that I didn't have the opportunity to give it to him in person, but it was truly from my heart, and it was a joy to put it together for him. Plus, I know he would have loved it.

This was also the easiest quilt I've ever made (by far). Yes, the pattern is simple, but more importantly: the decisions were easy because of my relationship with him. 

We’ve since had a service and said our goodbyes. It was a touching ceremony that paid a lovely tribute to one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. 

Lyle was a happy-go-lucky guy that inspired us all with his example as a father, husband, and beloved grandfather. 

A blue, grey, and yellow patchwork quilt hangs on a wooden ladder.

I’m going to miss him, and I’m happy to have been able to gift his quilt to his wife Jean. My hope is that it brings comfort and happy memories. 

Hug your people tight!

Top-down view of a person's feet in brown slippers standing on a blue, grey, and yellow patchwork quilt.
A blue, grey, and yellow patchwork quilt lays on the ground.

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  1. Oh my gosh… I was waiting for the happy ending when you presented your quilt to Lyle. I am so very sorry that was not how the story ended. Please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of your dear father-in-law. Hoping your mother-in-law will take comfort when using your beautiful quilt that was made with so much love. ❤️

    1. It was crushing – we all thought he was getting better, so it was a real blow when he didn’t make it. I am really glad to have made it, though.❤

  2. What a beautiful and loving tribute to your father-in-law. You put so much thought and love into it and I am sure his wife will treasure it. She will be wrapped in this quilt during this difficult time. Blessings to you!

    Nancy

  3. Most beautiful story this is what quilts are about. It’s a beautiful quilt and with its history it will always be a treasure of your family. So sorry for your loss.

  4. Such love!! Such a gift – to you all- you, Jean, your husband. Such memories!!!
    So sorry for your loss, Shelly. 💔

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