MONETTE CABRERA & HER ‘TINY HOUSE’ QUILT – Around The Frame

Women practice social distancing in a tiny house quilt created by Monette Cabrera.

In the early 1990’s when son Robert was young, I became a Tupperware Dealer. Using my marketing skills, in my first full quarter I was the top dealer in the seven-state region! I had a chain of parties going through the local Filipino Community that continued until I stopped selling it. I became such good friends with women, they invited my family to their annual Thanksgiving Celebration and we in turn joined the Filipino American Society (FAS). It was mentioned to us that we were the first family to join that wasn’t Filipino or parents/relatives of adopted Filipino children. It was great for Robert to make friends and learn the traditions, dances and food of another culture so different from his own; I was honored to serve a term as the FAS secretary.

After many years, I lost touch and reached out on Facebook to find where to send my dues and although people “liked” my request, no one responded with contact information. This past February as I worked at the studio, I heard a babble of excited voices at my display windows. I looked up in time to have a small mob of women and their husbands rushing in. I looked, smiled, and said, “Do you mind if I ask, but aren’t you Filipino?” One of the women, Marie Mendoza, broke into a HUGE smile “Lois! It is you! Where have you been? You own this shop?” Reunited at last!

I was introduced to Ramona “Monette” Cabrera and her daughter Elaine Lizel who married Marie and Emil Mendoza’s son, Adrian. Monette is an avid quilter and she wanted to see everything while the men wandered off to eat next door knowing from experience this wasn’t going to be a short visit.

I learned Monette lives in the Philippines where her younger sister Lani taught her how to quilt in 1998. Lani and Monette were both influenced by their mother, a high school vocational schoolteacher, who did a lot of craft projects. It was Monette’s desire to make big size quilts like Lani does for family members.

Now Monette has a different focus: small quilts. She started making “mug rugs” to give to co-teachers and friends as birthday and Christmas gifts. When she arrived in Fort Wayne to visit her daughter Elaine Lizel, all the family members received one too! When Monette saw the pots of remnants and learned she could haul fabrics and batting pieces out by the bagful for only $2.50 a bag it was a JACKPOT! The women rummaged through all six pots, comparing colors, size of designs looking for who-knows-what. When they were finished pot diving, making other purchases and the husbands returned, all the women had their photo taken holding a quilt we just finished restoring.

Monette was sad she was leaving the next day to visit her brother-in- law Ed and his wife Tarly in New Jersey before returning to the Philippines. She promised to send me photos of what she created with her remnant treasures, but the COVID- 19 pandemic intervened and all international flights were cancelled. Monette was forced to bunker down with Ed and Tarly, where she was inspired to create tiny houses of ladies practicing social distancing using a pattern by Jenny Doan and her remnant bag! She made this tiny house machine quilted quilt as a token of appreciation for them.

Monette expects to be able to fly back home in June: By that time, I imagine she will have created a quilt of an entire housing addition on lockdown as a reminder of the 2020 COVID – 19 pandemic. Safe journey Monette! I hope to see you back in Fort Wayne soon!

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Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer