Squares of Soul

Summer 2013 026    Let’s be frank.  Quilting is not easy.  It requires that the quilter go through the agony of making a multitude of tiny decisions which may or may not eventually add up to something significant.  It demands trips to the fabric store, constant measuring, some second-guessing, some creativity, some basic (or not-so-basic) sewing skills, a dose of anxiety, and if you’re new to the art- an incredible amount of time.  What is it exactly that makes us want to sit down with a pile of scraps and create something whole?  Why do people who can clearly afford much warmer, much prettier blankets choose to put themselves through the quilting process?

I couldn’t have answered questions like this until I started my first quilt two years ago as a way to celebrate my daughter’s birth.  My husband had known for a while that I was interested in getting started with quilting and as a surprise bought me a how-to book from Jo-Ann Fabrics one day.  The pattern was for a queen size quilt which didn’t strike me as ambitious at the time because you see… it was my first quilt after all.  Now I am informed.  Starting small might have been more prudent.  It also would have been less adventurous.

Every day after my daughter went down for her nap I pulled out my rotary cutter and my mat and I got to work on that monster.  As I finished the blocks I pinned the pieces up on a bulletin board over the sewing machine to remind myself, “You’re doing it!  You’re making a quilt!”  Finally, the last block was done- I put on the borders and then it sat for a year.  A whole year!  I was pregnant with #2, Winter 2012 070we’d had a cross-country move, and other things became higher priorities.  Such as entertaining my toddler for example.  I have just found someone who is willing to do the quilting for me.  Now that I have 2 tiny kids I am realizing that life is too short.  It’s the quilt tops that are the fun part.  I didn’t set out to make one in order to learn the process start to finish.  I just wanted to make a gift for my daughter.

Recently I have found myself wanting to start a quilt for my son who is now 4 months old.  It will be a good project to have through this coming winter.  One thing no one seems to mention about being a stay-at-home parent is that you put a tremendous amount of effort in to things like laundry and dishes which always need to be done again.  Instantly.  It’s like the laundry and dishes you did yesterday or even 5 minutes ago never happened.  But a quilt- now, that’s something that shows progress- you can count on the evidence still being present the next day, the next year, the next decade.  You can present it to your child and tell them, “Hey- I made you this quilt because you’re awesome and I love you.  I really do.  I love you and I hope that every time you see this quilt it reminds you of that.  May you never doubt it, maySummer 2013 027 you never experience a moment’s hesitation, may you always know that YOU. ARE. LOVED.”  A mopped floor just doesn’t send the same message.

So there it is.  We quilt because it allows us to lock a piece of ourselves in time.  Sure, it would be much faster and far less frustrating to make a blanket without first cutting all the fabric into miniscule pieces and then putting it all back together again.  But every one of those tiny pieces carries a bit of my soul.  I have handled and arranged and cut and trimmed and stitched them all.  The quilt is a part of me and I will always be a part of the quilt.  Summer 2013 029

Some quilters might strive for perfection- a color blend that melds together like a sunset or stitching that has never seen an equal.  Fancy appliques and frills are not my style.  I’m lucky if I do the measuring correctly.  For me quilting is a labor of love not for the quilting itself, but rather for the recipient.

4 thoughts on “Squares of Soul

  1. I remember being more than a little awed by the fact that you were finding time to piece that first quilt! Now you piece quilts AND blog!!! Wow, just wow.
    This summer and last when I packed for my time away, I chose to bring a quilt my grandmother pieced 97 years ago; slept under it every night, listening to owls, wind, and surf.
    I wish that for your family and for your quilt!

  2. Yes, I recall with amazement and fondness your crazy amounts of gorgeous canning. We are still enjoying your shreaded pickles- Quillan’s favorite and a brilliant way to spread easily.

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