I spent my internship year at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a somewhat run-down community hospital in a not entirely salubrious part of town. The place was old enough that most of the patient care areas did not have air conditioning, and during the summer the nurses would set up industrial-sized fans (the kind they use in gyms) at ends of hallways to help ventilate and cool the wings. The in-patient population tended to be elderly, and there was a rumor that one of the attendings had the biggest Medicare billings amongst all private practices in the state. The typical admissions were old, institutionalized, and usually DNR, except when they weren’t — and there were also rumors about certain families who kept Dear Old Mom/Dad/Aunt/Uncle alive in order to collect their social security benefits. The hospital was strapped for money, so various services went home after 7PM: phlebotomists, EKG techs, respiratory techs, unit clerks, runners who delivered radiology films (yes, these were the days before everything could be pulled up on screens). Even the cafeteria closed down by 7, which is how I ended up eating my first, and last, White Castle burger from the vending machine. On the usual call night the residents would drown in scut work: drawing blood and ABGs, inserting countless IVs because the nurses were required to give up after two sticks, hunting through the stacks for radiology films, doing EKGs with machines that still used rubber suction cups and required leads to be switched between readings, figuring out settings for respirators, inserting NG tubes and various other catheters into various orifices (because nurses didn’t do those “invasive” procedures, and delivering patients from one place to the next. I got to the point where I could do ABGs on anyone, and do them in the dark! I spent years 2 and 3 of my residency in another Saint hospital. This one was better-run and had money, and I was shocked to discover that all I had to do was WRITE the order, and miraculously it was done!
Anyway, I had a couple of souvenirs from my internship year: scrubs (of course, because how else would anyone know you’re a doctor unless you are wearing scrubs from another hospital), and a couple of towels. Like everything else from the hospital, these towels were depressing, scrawny and tiny even when new. I used these towels for years as back-up bathroom mats, and kept putting off turning them into rags. A few weeks ago, I attacked the linen closet as part of my R³ Project, and the towels were still there, still scrawny but usable. And this is what I did with them:
In my short quilting career, I have still managed to accumulate a large amount of fabric scraps. In this case, the block was from a quilt top I was never going to turn into a quilt, and it happened to fit perfectly on the towel. I stitched the quilt block directly on the towel, added a couple of scrap fabric to the sides, turned the towel borders in and stitched them in place. My memories of St. E are not entirely bad, and this bath mat (and its fraternal twin) makes me smile and think more kindly of that year.
The St. E mats got me on a roll, and for three or four weeks now, I have been reducing my fabric scrap pile. We have more bath mats! We have mud mats! We have kitchen floor mats:
I sewed all the strips directly on top of the batting and backing, as in strip quilting. This small rug has scraps from just about every quilt I have ever made — not that I have made that many, but still. The backing is leftover fabric from drapes I made years ago that I no longer have:
We have place mats:
And the reverse, flannel fabric from one of his old shirts:
These sewing projects reflect my personal commitment to making something useful out of materials that were probably going to end up in the landfill. I suppose all I have done is shift the landfill day sometime in the future, but for now, it is enough that day is NOT today, or tomorrow, or next week.
Even the Guinea Pig has her own quilt!