I still have the quilt that my grandmother made for me when I was a child. Though no longer in the best condition, it has a special significance and is still warm.
Over two years ago, I started a quilt for my now five year old. But after realizing how much of my time it took, I decided that I’d finish it the next summer when I’d have more time. Of course, when next summer came, it did not get done.
I had pretty much given up on finishing it until about a month ago. My older three children already have a hand-made quilt from me, but my youngest son does not. I knew I had to do something.
I mostly learned how to quilt by reading quilt books, experimenting, and especially by making and fixing lots of mistakes. For example, I really wanted to make an eight-pointed star quilt several years ago. I’d cut on the bias and pieced everything just as I had read in a quilt book. But when I’d finished the final stitch, my star did not lay flat. I felt frustrated. Rather than give up, I got out some scrap fabric and started over – that day. I was determined that if the lady smiling back at me on my quilt book could make this, then so could I. But this time I was more careful and aware of the seam allowances. And after the final stitch, it laid flat. This was a lesson for me.
In light of my busier schedule with homeschooling, for my youngest son’s quilt I chose a simple pattern – squares and rectangles – with the theme of cars since he loves cars.
Though I pieced the quilt fairly quickly with a sewing machine, I decided that I didn’t want to machine quilt it. (In the past, I’ve found that the machine jerks the quilt too much when quilting the final patterns. It’s also difficult to stay on the lines.) Instead, I prefer hand quilting because it gives me more control over the stitches and more accurate stitch results. But the problem with hand quilting is that it takes a lot of time.
So I have been waking up at 6 a.m. most mornings for the last 30 days hand quilting for an hour before everyone else gets out of bed. (Yes, I’ve easily spent over 30 hours hand-quilting this.) At first, I wasn’t enjoying it. I admit it. It felt like another of my long list of things to do. I even put myself in a routine just to get through it and get everything done. But towards the end, something changed. The peacefulness I felt in just having a little time to myself to think while I hand quilted made a difference in my day. Now that I’m done, I’m even considering making another quilt.
The lesson for me in finishing this quilt was that when I put my mind to it, I finally started to get somewhere. Making a quilt is a big project requiring a plan, time, and effort. But the thought of having created a piece of art that my son will be able to wrap himself in for years to come makes me happy. And now he will have his own quilt like everyone else.
The Explorer’s birthday is this week, and guess what he is getting as one of his gifts?