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How to Make and American Quilt

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Working on the Once Around blog post with all the colorful art and craft supplies made me think of this movie, so I just had to watch it again and share about it – just in case you have not seen it.

I still remember the first time I saw it: I was on a flight from Malpensa to either New York or Chicago, I forget now, and they were showing it on the centralized monitors in coach. I was not sure what to make of the title, but the images caught my attention and I was mesmerized, even though I had missed the first part.

Of course, as soon as possible I got hold of the movie and enjoyed all of it on my TV. That was before DVDs and the wonderful ease of HD streaming, when clunky VHS still reigned. To get the original language version I would sometimes strike luck at the local Blockbuster, or order my movies via Amazon.uk.co so the systems would match (PAL, same as in Italy, as opposed to the American NTSC).


The story follows a group of quilting-bee friends who gather to create a new quilt in which their lives are told and represented by the piece each of them is working on. Their stories of love, sorrow and wisdom are shared with young Finn (Winona Ryder), who is spending the summer with her grandmother Glady Joe (Anne Bancroft) and great aunt Hy (Ellen Burstyn) in order to complete her master’s thesis before heading home to marriage and life with her fiancé Sam (Dermot Mulroney).

The leader of the quilting-bee is Anna (Maya Angelou), and the rest of the quilters and story-tellers are Anna’s daughter, Marianna (Alfre Woodard), Sophia (Lois Smith), Em (Jean Simmons) and Constance (Kate Nelligan).

The movie is based on the novel by Whitney Otto by the same name, with screenplay by Jane Anderson. I have not read the book, actually I only just found out there was a book, but the movie is beautifully done and the stories of these women will touch your heart. These are characters that will stay with you long after the movie is over, or the book is finished; they become your friends.


Maybe, you will even be inspired to quilt. Maybe some of you already do. Which brings me to a question: do you belong to a quilting-bee? I would love to know, and if you do, I would love to see some of your work.

The movie is currently not available for streaming on Netflix, but you can put the DVD on your mailing list. Otherwise there is always iTunes or Amazon. You can see a preview on YouTube by clicking here.









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  • Sonia (foodiesleuth)08/16/2014 - 12:45 pm

    I have not read this book or seen this movie…I have read other books written by authors who write novels with quilting or knitting as a running theme, but not this one…

    Just a put a request at the library for it!


    • Monica Schwartz08/16/2014 - 4:09 pm

      You are welcome, Sonia. The movie is really wonderful, one that I have watched several times now. Let me know how the book is after you read it.ReplyCancel

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