Apr 8, 2016

one epic storm, one small tote bag and a poignant reminder of why we sew

Houston is about to mark the first anniversary of an epic and deadly storm. This fast moving storm began west of Austin and San Antonio during the Memorial Day weekend last year... and as it tore through the small town of Wimberley, it tragically claimed 12 lives. Then it hit Houston, a city notoriously flat and prone to flash floods.

Houston's main waterways (we call them bayous) rose more than 50 feet out of their banks!

Eight people died in Houston that night. And more than 1,000 homes were completely flooded... ruining everything inside them. And inside every one of those homes, there is a story of loss, and also recovery. The story of one woman, whom I have never met, impacted me deeply.

This woman was a needelpointer. And as it happens, she had purchased one of my custom quilted tote bags that I make and sell through a local needlepoint shop. This is a micro-business for me, I only make one tote bag or so a month, so my output is very small, to say the least. These bags are custom designed to hold a needlepoint canvas (which is nailed to a wood frame) and supplies.

Two months after the storm, I got an email from a woman who wanted to know if I was the one who made these bags. She was part of a needlepoint community stitching group, and one of their members lived in one of those flooded homes.

The storm victim shared with the group that she was sad about everything they lost, but she was especially sad about losing her needlepoint materials and her tote bag!

The stitching group wanted to purchase another tote bag for her as a gift, and they wanted to know if I would make it. So the store owner and I quickly agreed!

What are the chances that in a city of some 6 million people, one of the victims of one of Houston's notorious floods would have included one of the two dozen or so tote bags I made?

And more importantly, what are the chances that this person would treasure that bag enough to mention it to her stitching friends?

That moment brought tears to my eyes. It stands as a powerful reminder - this is why I create! Handmade things are rare. And those things we make that bring us joy and peace - whether its quilting, needlepoint, sewing, knitting, whatever - and the time we spend making things is priceless. To lose them is to lose a part of ourselves.

So I recreated that tote bag. The stitching group was happy and the flood victim got one small part of her former life back... a bit of normalcy for her. And I was truly grateful to be a part of it.

Just for fun, here's a photo of a tote bag I just finished this week.

And a few favorites from the past 2 years. One for me, one to sell. Repeat.


  1. Thanks for sharing this story. Yes, poignant! And your bags are wonderful. Best wishes from Mary in DFW.

  2. Great story, Teresa! Thank you for sharing. Gorgeous bags!!!

  3. I have several friends in Wimberley; we were so concerned about them. How wonderful that you remade a bag for your customer. Handmade things are so meaningful. Wonderful story.