Hindsight is often better than foresight….that’s what they say.
With this Quilt, I actually understand the meaning…
It was one night, about 3 years ago, that I took a pile of scraps and started sewing bits of it randomly together. They were all leftovers from dresses I made for Emilia and myself. Some were from quite a few years ago. You see, I always had the fantasy of one day making a quilt for each of my children. That night, I had no real plan, just a desire to piece those craps together and see what would happen. I made quite a few blocks and started to really like what I saw and kept going, digging deeper into my pile of scraps, remembering each item of clothing I made. A blouse, a pillowcase dress, a twirly skirt, a bubble dress and even a wrap skirt for me….so many memories of a growing daughter. Most of those dresses have been handed down and faded …..but I still remember each one of them.
And essentially, that is what quilting once was, was it not? Making a useful item out of whatever is at hand. Today, it is not poverty that drives that desire to create such a comforting item as a blanket, but the desire to preserve something so ephemeral. Memories, passing time….Creating something that can give warmth and comfort when we are not here. To evoke love, care and devotion. To spend hours sewing each piece together, to weave a story…our mind wandering.
Well, with this first quilt of mine I have certainly done that. My soul is in this quilt. I thought about my growing daughter….always so sunny and cheerful. Easygoing and delightful as an exploring toddler. With a gentle determination and fierce attachment to me. Still so young and playful, but at the cusp of something new. While I started this quilt 3 years ago, it is so appropriate that she should receive it in her 9th year.
And so, after the initial enthusiasm, I hit my first hurdle. I had made 15 blocks, all randomly sizes. It was only then that I started to think about its final look. I looked at books and consulted many wonderful blogs for ideas. My neighbour then was an expert quilter and sat down one night, trying to map out the design and calculating size and number of blocks needed. I came away with a sketch and some measurements. But for reasons I now forget, I lost my mojo and the momentum was lost. The pile of blocks were packed away, but not forgotten, for almost a year.
Later, I took the box out again, trimmed all the blocks to the same size. Made one more and decided that I could not pick up where I had left. I had to go to the next step. I packed the pieces into a bag and marched off to our local quilt shop. Thankfully I was greeted with much enthusiasm and encouragement and sashing, batting and backing was chosen. And again, I baulked. Sashing? I really wanted someone right there with me, walking me through every step. But no, it all stayed there in the brown paper bag for a long time. Christmas and Birthdays passed and I had a guilty feeling inside me, not helped by the periodical inquiries by my daughter.
Sashing done, the top was complete. Batting sandwiched between the back and front and so it lay there on the floor, looking at me. Then there was the case of the missing safety pins…another Christmas came and went. The quilt was half pinned and I dreaded the quilting. How to quilt? In the ditch, across, random? Straight lines or freeform? I clearly struggle with too many choices….and then, finally, with all the pins in place, I proceeded to sew lines 1.5″ apart down the quilt. It looked good! Some friendly advice (thanks Susan) and a quick google search, and I had my french binding. And two nights of hand binding. And a finished quilt.
And a happy girl who was just so pleased and not one bit reproachful. Not one word about how long it took. Really, this girl of mine is quite something…..
And so, in hindsight, this quilt of mine was not that hard to put together. I wonder now why it took me so long? And while I still look in awe at the beautiful quilts out there, I now know that I can do it too. The secret for me is really to look at each individual step instead of the complete project. The big picture is scary. It looks intricate, complex and intimidating. Then, as you look closer at the picture, you can actually see the individual blocks, you learn to recognise how it has been put together. I can now look at one single block and feel that it is doable. One block at a time.
What a wonderful metaphor it is for life, don’t you think? As a whole, our life can be scary. The responsibility of leading a valuable life, to be a good human being. The magnitude of it is impossibly frightening and paralysing….but looked at it closely, one day, one month, one year at a time and it feels doable. I can do the best I can today. I can improve one single aspect of my life in one month. I can do something good and worthy in one year.
One step at a time.