Movie: How to Make an American Quilt (1995)

HowMakeQuiltWell, I suppose you know it’s not really about the making of a quilt, except as metaphor.  Finn Dodd (Winona Ryder) is engaged to be married to Sam, a competent carpenter who is planning to spend the summer before their wedding renovating their house.  She’s going to spend it writing her dissertation (4th attempt).  She really can’t write in a house that’s being pulled apart, so she decides to spend the summer with her great aunt and grandmother (Ellen Burstyn and Ann Bancroft) and their quilting circle.  Turns out the quilt they’re making is to be Finn’s wedding quilt.

The theme of the quilt is “where love resides,” and over the course of the summer, each of the ladies reveal a great deal about themselves and their loves, much of which is represented in the blocks of the quilt.  Turns out there is a little soap opera in much of the history that is related, including a good bit of infidelity, temper tantrums and so forth.  I won’t spoil it if I say Finn does indeed learn a lot about life and love in the course of the summer.  But as a quilter myself, I do wish she had not wrapped herself in her brand new quilt and gone running through the orchard, obviously getting at least one corner of it dragging on the dust.  No respect!

I enjoyed the movie, though not as much as you’d think a quilter would.  To be fair, I’ve never worked on a group quilt, and I’ve also never completed a full-size quilt, even though I’ve done several quilt tops.  The one aspect of a group quilt that was not depicted was the deal-breaker for me: you have to trust the quality of the stitching of the other quilters.  These ladies trust one another a good bit more than their bickering banter would suggest.

Statements in this review do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.