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How to Make a Dad Quilt
Chris Cottom

1. Design your quilt as ten blocks by seven: three score and ten, the age of your dad.

2. Snip three-inch squares from all his shirts: the polos, plaids and easy-irons; the poplins and the

double-cuffs; the football strips and rugby tops. Be sure to use the turquoise paisley button-down he almost wore to your eighteenth.

3. Cut three-inch triangles from his trousers: the jumbo cords and cricket whites, the lilac loons and Prince of Wales checks, the comfort-fits and tracky bottoms, the cargo pants that make you cringe.

4. Make a dozen blocks from time-worn ties: the boy-length blue with Batman villains; the mauve and orange floral mess; the one he says is MCC; the classic grey to give you away; the swirly teal he wore straight from work, driving all night to bring you back.

5. Stitch in a snippet from the cycling jersey he’s used but once, the last word from his ‘Mont Blanc or Bust’ t-shirt, a pocket or three from the workwear trousers he always dons to mow the lawn.

6. Add his Akela Cub Scout badge, the ‘Peace’ patch from his hippy jeans, the ‘B’ from the ‘Baseball Coach’ hoodie he’s far too old for, a bit of that cardigan in what he calls Robin Hood green, a cuff from the belted brown tweed overcoat in which he’d play Brer Fox to your Brer Rabbit.

7. Stitch your blocks together, placing a plain white one in the centre of the bottom row, cut from the white damask tablecloth your mum wants you to have, but which you’d never use.

8. Add a three-inch border from the beige trench coat your dad carried over his arm at your graduation, because one should never underestimate the weather in Aberystwyth.

9. For the wadding, use your dad’s smelly old sleeping bag. Back your quilt with the calico he uses on his model ships, his Golden Hinds and Cutty Sarks. Use long stitches to baste your layers together.

10. Use a quilting needle to hand-stitch outlines of beach balls and windbreaks, roof racks and picnic rugs, Primus stoves and four-berth tents, AA maps and roads less travelled. 

11. Bind the edges with strips of the woollen dressing gown you bought your dad last Christmas, burgundy and brown and still unused.

12. Take your quilt to your dad and touch his fingertips to every part of every block. Trace them around the scripty red embroidery on the pure white damask, which says ‘Sewn With Love’. Brush any corner across his mute, dribbling lips. Use another to dab his cheeks. Tiptoe away as he sleeps.

13. When the hospice rings in the morning, ask them to wrap him in his dad quilt.



Chris Cottom lives near Macclesfield, UK, and once wrote insurance words. His stories appear in Agape Review, Anansi Archive, Apricot Press, Bournemouth Writing Prize, Cranked Anvil, Ellipsis Zine, Flash 500, FlashFlood, Free Flash Fiction, Hysteria, LoveReading, NFFD NZ, On The Premises, One Wild Ride, Overtly Lit, Oxford Flash Fiction, Parracombe Prize, Retreat West, Shooter Flash, Story Nook, Streetcake, The Centifictionist, and others.

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