Quilts are handcrafted pieces of art. Art to touch and feel and live in.
They are a tangible creative expression of love and time that you live with instead of admiring from afar. I believe it is for these reasons that when you snuggle under one, you can feel the difference between a store bought blanket and a homemade quilt.
This special art form calls to me in a deeper way. It asks me to invest in something big and be apart of something richer and transformative, something a quick project can’t give me. When you give so much time and attention to a creative process, the process itself tends to teach you life lessons and reflect back parts of yourself. In light of this, it becomes a personal quest as much as a creative process.
If time is our most cherished resource, than it would beg to reason that quilts are a gift of the heart. The time it takes to create such a masterpiece asks me to slow down, to invest in a skill and connect with the time honored tradition of not rushing. It is giving my attention to every step in quitting, and for me to think and love on the person I will give my art to.
In my new relationship with quilting, I have noticed that this creative project require patience and knowledge and discipline. Patience with the many hours of measuring, sorting, piecing, applique, and binding. Knowledge with the mathematical plan of how all these dozens or hundreds or sometimes even thousands of pieces of fabric are put together so that in the end, they are transformed to the exact right size blanket (or purse or skirt, or whatever is being quilted). Discipline in trouble shooting and persistence. And when you are new to quilting like I am, quilting is much like doing your own home improvements, problems will come up and you will need to figure out to how fix them.
When you put that kind of time and care into an art project, it becomes a public proclamation of love in a beautiful and unique way. It says, “You are worth my time, my energy. I love thinking of you as I create and design a work of art that is just for you. I don’t just think of you once and a while, but you are on my mind and in my heart every time I labor on this project. As I pick the colors, the fabric, the pattern. As I cut and sew and stitch. In all the hours it requires to take loose fabric and turn it into a treasured gift, I thought of you. You are important to me.”
As I start this journey, only having found my fabric and picked the pattern, (it is a large Hexagon quilt) I approach the process with an open mind, knowing I have much to learn. When you start out learning a new art or craft, soak up as much information as you can. When I was at the fabric store, I asked so many questions of the folks that work there. I used the information I found online and cross referenced with seasoned sewers. Then in the end, I found a couple of friends to start the journey with me. One friend who has quilted before and brings knowledge to the table and a couple of us who know how to sew, but have never tackled this type of project. We also have a friend who has never sewn a stitch and wanted to learn with us. Learning a new skill and discovering a historic artistic craft is always better done with friends you love and can spend all those hours with to help you along the way. It is our very own, Modern Day Quilting circle. We each have committed to making our own quilt this year and learn together, be together, and discover together.
I am excited and nervous to be learning this beautiful time honored artistic craft. I long for the day that my own kids are wrapped up in a handmade quilt by me and taken with them when they leave home. To become so skilled in quilting that I hope to make them for friends and family.