Father’s Day Story: A Tale of Ties

Happy first day of June! I know we haven’t technically reached the first day of summer yet – but it sure feels like we have! With Father’s Day quickly approaching, I’m reminded of how difficult it can be to find the perfect gifts – especially to those who refuse to provide even a *hint* of what they desire (ahem, I’m talking to you Dad and Brandon!). While I often love to “go big” when it comes to gift giving, the maker in me has always had a fondness for gifts from the heart, and especially those made from fabric. I was recently introduced to a customer who took an entirely different approach to the art of giving that just made my heart sing. With Father’s Day around the corner, I thought it was the perfect time to share her story with you!  Before I dive in, I want to give a special thank you to our lovely customer, Sarah Thomas, for allowing me to share her beautiful story and to our designer, Anne, for helping to bring this vision to life! Sarah has a special way of taking meaningful items from her past and turning them into useful and gorgeous décor for her home.  Her most recent project was creating keepsakes for her nephews to remember their grandfather in an extra special way.

Passing down the fashion sense at a young age — an Easter Sunday in the early 2000’s with Clay, Arky, Verla, Colin, John, (aka Grandpa and Grandma Thomas) Sarah and her sister in law Becky.

Sarah’s father, Arky Thomas, was a child of the depression and often went without. As he grew up, dressing appropriately for the occasion was very important to him, and the opportunity to wear a suit and tie was always an added plus! His son, John, and his two grandsons, Colin and Clay, teased him about being a “clotheshorse” — although today they are also very snappy dressers!  When Arky passed away in June 2019, the last time they were all together as a family was on that Father’s Day, when he asked the guys to take any of his sports coats that they might like to have. As they were shopping his closet, they discovered quite a selection of neckties that they knew they couldn’t pass up. But what to do with them all? John, Colin and Clay each took a couple that they wanted to keep — but there were so many more! After much brainstorming with her family and a creative, talented quilter friend from Texas, she decided to turn these special ties into pillows for her nephews and their families to have.

Father’s Day 2019 — with (left to right) Clay, John, Arky and Colin, as they were trying on sports coats

Sarah got together with Anne, who had previously helped turn some kimono fabric from her time as an exchange student in Japan into pillows, to finish bringing this vision to life.  After hearing this story, Anne had the idea to continue the clothing theme for the backing of each pillow by using menswear fabric we had in the shop.  A few of the chosen fabrics matched some of the sports coats Arky had worn – which adds an extra special touch!  Add a bit of trim and some sewing magic and this special surprise was complete!

Projects like this remind me that the memories we share with the people we love the most are at the heart of our homes.  It fills me with such joy (and inspiration) to see this combination of new and old coming together to create keepsakes that will be held dear and passed along to future generations. Is there anything better than a lovely piece with a beautiful story? Anne, and the rest of our design team, love helping with projects like this and appreciate the opportunity to get to know our customers on a deeper level.  Thank you, Sarah, for allowing us to be a part of your story!

Have you celebrated a person you love by incorporating something they had into your home like Sarah? I want to hear all about it! Please share with me below in the comments, or use #nellhills in an Instagram or Facebook post! Until next week – happy decorating!