For the last two days I have been attempting to machine quilt. As I was wrestling this monster, trying to shove the fabric under the needle, I thought, “If I had died no one would have finished this thing.” I have a strong suspicion it would have ended up in a box at a yard sale, one of those ghastly unfinished projects tucked away among more useful items like rusty scissors and empty thread spools.
I started this project in February 2007. I needed something distracting and mindless to do, so I delved into my scrap fabric and started cutting quilt squares. I noticed I tend to buy lots of floral patterned material. I almost never buy solids. After a time all the little squares were neatly tucked away into a ziploc bag and buried in one of my big plastic tubs awaiting crafterly inspiration.
You know, once you have spent hour upon hour working on something you have to keep going even if you have no clue what it is. I think it was last summer when I pulled out the squares and started laying them out. From past experience with busy floral scraps I surmised that a few solids may help out and had accordingly cut some dark blue and beige squares. They were almost solid. You could barely see the pattern on them. It was very muted.
The kids helped me lay out a pattern that didn’t clash too badly, keeping in mind that most of the time a quilt is in use you have your eyes closed anyway. It got bigger and bigger. We had to go to buy more of that sort-of-solid muted fabric. I decided that once it covered the space available on the living room floor it was big enough. There were challenges. I think this is much easier if you start with directions. Of course I did not have directions. This was a scrap quilt.
In constructing the quilt top, some of the pieces didn’t quite match up. They were all mostly square and about the same size. I worked with it. Once the quilt top was made we all admired it, and then I folded it up and put it back into the craft tub until I could get batting.
It wasn’t long before I went to the store and got the required batting and dug around in one of my boxes for sheeting for the back of the quilt. I was pumped from getting the top part done. But by the time I got out the folding table, cut the backing, unrolled the batting and coaxed the three independent layers together so I could pin the whole thing together I was tired. I would have stuffed it back into the craft tub, but it was too big now. So there it sat neatly folded in a corner of my bedroom until last week.
It’s another summer and I decided to work on the quilt. I think I’ve gotten the hang of machine quilting it. The first third will need to be unpicked and restitched. All those squares are leaning against each other, this way and that. Kind of reminds me of an old rickety wooden fence about to fall down. I’ll straighten them up. I’m getting there.
Projects like these give you time to philosophize. Quilting won’t be rushed. It’s good to think deep thoughts to keep yourself from muttering words you don’t want your kids to hear you say.
A quilt is kind of like life. Bits from here and there, some scraps on hand, some you have to purpose to aquire. A little planning and a lot of improvisation. All the squares don’t match up exactly right, but as a whole, with a little adjusting it all makes one big piece. Often parts have to be undone and redone. It never quite comes out exactly the way you originally envisioned.
When all is done it will serve its purpose, keeping someone I love warm and snug underneath a messy riot of mismatched memories. Some people will think this is one awful ugly quilt. Some will think it is ok. Some will think it is beautiful.
Yesterday I was getting frustrated. I thought,”God did not keep me alive to finish this quilt.”
Now I’m thinking . . .
Maybe He did.