Two months after posting about the beginning of my new quilting project, we have a new king size bed, happily clad in my completed quilt. It was the simplest pattern I’ve done, by far. I decided that a busy pattern wouldn’t work well for such a large bed – and, man, this bed is big compared to our previous little queen! I’m not in a big hurry to see if a busier pattern would work as well in king size format. I think my next project will be making some place mats or a quilted vest. Maybe a small wall hanging.
I love the whole process of quilting. I love thinking about what I want to make next. I love thinking about design possibilities, thinking about colours, looking at what fabric I already have, acquiring new fabric, thinking and rethinking the geometry of the design and the size of the seams, and cutting out the pieces. Then I love piecing the top together, watching the overall design emerge and the colours work together to make their statement. After that, I love putting the layers together and doing the actual quilting, seeing components puff up, kind of a design within a design. And finishing off the border to tidy it up just right, perfect ending. For me the entire journey is incredibly satisfying.
My mother only sewed when something needed mending, which seemed to need doing more when I was growing up than happens now. As far as she was concerned, she left sewing (and pickling, canning and everything she equated with something needing doing because you couldn’t afford to buy it) behind when she went to university during the depression and then moved to the big city. To have had a sewing machine would have a step backwards as far as she was concerned. My cousin, on the other hand, sewed all the time. That was partly because with four children making clothes helped the finances. But she also enjoyed the process and the outcomes. It was an avenue for creativity, challenge, skill, and personal fulfillment. She made the dresses for her daughters’ weddings, as did my sisters-in-law. Remarkable. I can only stand in awe at such talent – and courage.
I learned to thread a needle while spending time with my grandmother in the summer. My learning was partly because she needed me to thread the needle for her because she couldn’t see close up (now I know why!) and partly because she was always sewing something; it was just something she did. She also taught me to how to knot the end of her thread. Now, when I quilt, I thread my needle, make a knot, put my grandmother’s thimble on my finger, and think of her as I get started. I was lucky that my grandmother gave me this introduction and that the required home ec courses we had to take when I was in school taught me to use a sewing machine. That knowledge was all I needed when, later in my life, I realized that not only could I admire quilts, I could make them myself.
In honour of National Poetry Month, which is almost over, I offer this description of the quilting journey in somewhat poetic form:
The quilting journey
The mind forms an image that sets the stage,
then fabrics are chosen with anticipation.
Pieces are drawn and cut to measure,
then laid out to confirm the plan’s expectation.
Piece by piece, squares and rows are joined,
‘til the top has become our new creation.
Slow and steady thread dips and flows,
as stitches shape a quilted sensation.
The quilt lies on a bed, hangs on a wall,
rests on a table, is worn with pride. Affirmation.