Quilts were something magical and rare to me. I thought that only grandmas possessed the magic to turn stiff fabric into snuggly blankets. It's like when you become a grandmother you inherently gain magical powers over fabric and needles to create amazing gifts for everyone in your family. (That DOES happen, right?)
When I was a baby, toddler, and child, my favorite blanket was a blue and pink Noah’s Ark quilt. It had blue striped ruffle edging that was piped with a soft pink fabric. The main body of the quilt showed an adorable Noah’s Ark scene with the quilting outlining each person and animal.
Just thinking about my childhood blanket invokes an almost muscle memory of touch. I can remember how the fabric felt between my fingers and thumb as I rubbed it before falling asleep. The faint scent of Dreft and Snuggle still lingers in my baby quilt from its numerous washes throughout my life.
The batting has thinned significantly from the years of cuddles. There is a crudely sewn line on the left side of the quilt where it had ripped from rough play and my Grandpa Tony had mended it for me, and I love it. I would pretend that my blankie had surgery to remove its appendix like my favorite literary character Madeline had in one of my books.
This prized quilt is still with me today, resting on a quilt rack in our bedroom for me to see right before I go to sleep. This little bundle of worn fabric stitched together planted the seed of quilting in my soul.
First, it was a fondness. I loved the look of them, and how they differed from any other blanket I had ever seen or felt. Since my blankie was a quilt, I liked quilts!
Second, it was a preference. I wanted all of my bed spreads in my room, and yes even in my dorm room, to be a quilt. Nothing comforted me like a quilt. Every morning I would awake to a heap of sheets that appeared to have wrestled each other to the floor, and I would be clutching my bed spread--a quilt--as my lifeline to sweet sleep.
Third, it was a curiosity. At this time, I had been knitting and starting to crochet. My mind was beginning to learn how stitches wove together created a fabric. Inspecting my beloved quilts, I could see how they had been stitched and pieced together. It fascinated me, but I never thought, “hey, I could do this!” (remember at this time my subconscious was still convinced only grandmothers possessed quilty magic).
It wasn’t until I opened a gorgeous, new Singer Confidence sewing machine for the Christmas of 2016 from my thoughtful parents-in-law, that me … ME using a scary needle-equipped mechanical machine occurred to me. Honestly … it terrified me at first.
After our amazing Christmas Day filled to the brim with family, love, and food, my husband and I carried the gifts we had received into the house and collapsed into (a quilt-covered) bed happily exhausted. And the new Singer sat in that same spot … for two weeks.
A few days after the new year, my loving husband suggested I should put the laundry down and open my sewing machine. As much as I wanted to stop folding laundry, I was frightened.
Knitting needles, crochet hooks, cross-stitch needles--I loved all of them, but a machine-controlled needle with the power to pierce through my thumb … I knew with my clumsiness that it could be a real possibility here.
“I don’t know …” I began making excuses, and naturally he saw right through them.
“Why don’t you at least take it out the box? You don’t have to plug it in today.”
Giving in, I abandoned the laundry and cut into the box. Then, I literally and figuratively opened the Pandora’s box to what would become my sewing soul.
The machine FASCINATED me. Of course I had witnessed a sewing machine before, but this was different. This was MY sewing machine, mine to explore. Before I could help it, I had thread the machine. Then I had to plug the machine in and turn it on to wind the bobbin, and without hesitation … I did.
Hearing that purr of the motor winding the bobbin, something sparked in my heart through my hands, I HAD to sew. Using an old shirt (sorry sweet husband, I’ll make it up to you I promise!), I loaded the bobbin in the machine, set the presser foot down, selected straight stitch, and placed my foot on the pedal.
From spool to machine to needle to fabric, a seam started in my soul.
After a quick visit to the JoAnn Fabrics remnant bins that day, I sewed a little blue stuffed star, a pocket, and super elementary quilt block within four hours of taking the machine out of the box.
An excitement itched and poked me relentlessly that night laying in bed under the quilt bed spread. I must make a quilt. More than I wanted to make a project bag for my knitting … I wanted to make a quilt.
January 31, 2017 at 8:19 p.m. - My first quilt was finished.
A baby-sized quilt with a pink, green, white, and gray color palette with sheep and polka dot patterns and a gray minky backing, it was both soft and spunky. It was far from perfect, but it embodied every fear I had about sewing. It is evidence that I overcame those fears.
Five quilts, five bags, a new iron, twelve spools of thread, a seam ripper, numerous needles, two rotary cutters, handfuls of Clover Wonder Clips, and three works-in-progress later, I walk into my sewing studio beaming.
Surrounded by gorgeous fabric, vivid thread, massive rulers, and pure potential enthralls me. Before me is a blank canvas. Not even a physical canvas, but an entire platform I can create. Endless opportunities lay ahead. I can shape, cut, color, sew, bind, and add whatever I desire. The only limit is my imagination.
The canvas of a quilt ends when I decide. I can add, remove, or change anything. This ignites my voice. The fabric accommodates to my story. I have no character limits or edges of frame.
Using as much or little space and color as I chose, I create comfort from scraps. From scraps you can create a quilt, and from brokenness you can always create beauty.
No matter what mood or season of life I am in, that is why I always quilt. Although I still happily knit, quilting has become a more freeing experience for me. I don’t have to shape fabric to become a hat, mittens, or sweater; I move the fabric however my heart sees fit at the time. Without worrying about bust measurements or shoe size, I am free to create without restraint, and it’s glorious.
As a self-taught quilter, I will be the first to tell you how scared I was of a sewing machine, and how I never dreamt I could create what I am creating now. Fear is a powerful bully to keep you in your place, but you will never grow if you never face your fear.
What if I never opened that box? What if I had let fear win, and I returned the sewing machine? I would have missed out on immense happiness and creative potential. I would not have discovered one of my life’s callings.
It might not be as dramatic a change as I had experience with my sewing machine (lovingly named Matilda), but it is always worth it to try. You may still be fearful, and that’s okay, but don’t let that fear keep you from opening the box.
Today, I have invested in another sewing machine for some heavy-duty quilting, and I LOVE this machine! However, I will still sew with Matilda to always remind me to open the next box whatever it may be.
This blog is my open diary to anyone and everyone about my life and my crafts. Life can be difficult, but it's always beautiful, and I want to share that love of life and making.