Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Our Lives are like Quilts

Our lives are like quilts - bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love.

I first became interested in quilting a little over 10 years ago, just before I was a Senior in High School.  During our Senior year, we had to complete a Senior Project, which involved a research paper and a physical project that we could present to a panel of judges.  It is one of those silly school projects that students always question why they have to do. We had to work with a mentor, and we had the whole school year to complete it. The physical project required that we spend at least 15 hours with our mentor working on the project. Students chose all sorts of things, like learning to play an instrument, or developing a workout routine to lose weight. Some students volunteered with nursing homes or with fire departments, so that they could learn about careers.  I chose to make a quilt. 

Over the course of the school year, I spent 128 hours working on my quilt. You see, I chose one of the harder quilting methods to begin with, an applique Sunbonnet Sue pattern, and I decided that I was going to hand quilt the whole thing. I would not start with a lap quilt... instead, I would make a quilt large enough to cover a queen sized bed. This was a monumental task, especially for a 17 year old, who could barely sew a straight line on a sewing machine. 

My mentor was a lovely older lady that lived down the road from my house.  She had been making quilts forever, and really taught me a lot about the quilting process.  She pieces her quilts using an antique sewing machine, and then hand quilts them all.  I loved working with her and learning from her.  At the same time, I was working on my research paper, and I was learning so much about the history of quilts and how they had been used throughout history. 

Once the quilt top was finished, and it was time to quilt, we decided to set up an old fashioned quilting frame in the living room at my Grandma's house and gather around it and quilt like an old fashioned quilting bee. That experience is still one of my favorite memories. My mentor, my Mama, my Grandma and I worked on hand quilting my quilt. Some days, my sister, my Aunt and my cousin would join us. We all worked together, a little each day to finish this project.  When it was done, I was so proud of what we had accomplished. 
Showing off my completed quilt in 2003. 
About a year after the quilt was done, my Grandma passed away. Having the memory of our quilting bee in her living room is priceless. I video tapped parts of us quilting so that I could document it for my project, and I love having those memories captured. 

This quilt, is one of my most prized possessions. I still sleep with it often, and every time I am wrapped up in it, I feel like my Grandma is a little closer to me. I am wrapped up in the warmth of the blanket, but surrounded by the love that went into making this quilt.  It is much more to me, than just pieces of fabric that are stitched together.  It is a reminder that although my Grandma is not physically here with me, that she is still close at heart always. 

I haven't quilted much since, but I still have an interest in it. I did make a quilt last year, that I will be sharing later this week. I have been watching tons of tutorials on YouTube and pinning lots of quilt ideas on Pinterest.  I hope to make another quilt this year.  I already have one in mind to make for Parker. 

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