Saturday, November 3, 2018

Quilting teaches me..... Finish

I've been quilting for a lifetime, literally, and have come to the conclusion that we do what we love in part because it challenges us to learn. Anyone who quilts can attest to the idea of learning about fabric and supplies, blocks and backings, sewing and making. 
I'm exploring the other things that quilting teaches. See a list below for the full list of essays.

Little 3D wall hanging in the studio.Finish what I start
I've always been a maker. Well, sort of. I started out a maker of quick projects. When night fell on a project it was done. No matter the stage of completeness. So a half-sewn blouse eventually went into a box, lost to other options. I didn't like losing so I rushed through everything. No. I mean everything: housecleaning, cooking, sewing, yardwork. I just had this idea that I had to hurry. 

Maybe that need to hurry came from my upbringing. My parents were farmers so when we went in the field, whether to plant or hoe or gather, there was always a grown-up saying "hurry" to a kid. Me or one of my sisters or everyone at the same time. Oh, we rested--no one was breaking any child-labor laws. But when you're dropping seeds into a row and the tractor is running, you need to "move" or "come on" or "hurry" or "stop playing and work."

So if to hurry meant to satisfy a grown-up, then to be a grown-up one had to hurry. To hurry meant finishing. In farming finishing is the result of working hard, efficiently and steadily. Getting to the end of the row or patch, filling a bushel, selling everything we brought to the farmers' market. Finishing was as important as hurrying. 

Now quilting. We all know that quilting is a big, long-term endeavor. Working hard, efficiently and steadily might get one to the end of the quilt, but rarely does one make a bed quilt in a day. Eleanor Burns' style or not. A small quilt wasn't really a quilt. Baby quilts were pretty rare--babies slept with their parents. Toddlers even slept with parents. 

"Murky Waters" Mary Marcotte 2016 A scrap quilt in beige, tans, browns like the water in the bayous near my Louisiana home. www.fleurdelisquilts.blogspot.comBy the time a baby needed a quilt, he/she was probably going into a big bed with siblings. At least that's how it was in our family and extended family. Pushing a child out of a parental bed was a huge topic of discussion among adults and required finesse. 

That's how things were in my own family. Will (our oldest) slept with us until he was almost three years old. We only convinced him by telling him he would sleep with the new baby. We put him in a single bed with the baby bed in the same room. Soon I'd need a quilt, but it was early summer so I had time. 

Make a quilt everyone said. I knew how to sew, it would be easy. But I couldn't do it in a day. It would take days and weeks. Maybe even months. Boy did that scare me! But lots of encouragement and love and small blocks became big sections. Then big sections became a quilt top. And I quilted it using my home machine. 
A teaching piece for a presentation that I'm giving in a few weeks. I'm most certain that the patches were uneven, no corner matched another, and lines were more curved than straight. 

That didn't matter. What mattered was that I finished. It took weeks, maybe the entire summer, but by winter there was a newly made quilt on our son's bed. And I had made it. I became unstoppable then! No sewing was too big or daunting or overwhelming. 

"Roseate" scrap quilt in pink using Chinese coins pattern completed in Jan 2017Thanks to that first quilt, and many quilts since, I learned that there's a balance between hurrying and working. That long-term doesn't have to mean not starting. Or putting the project away unfinished. And that opened up a new world of sewing. The list of possibilities and projects became challenges. What could I conquer? 
    • Christmas gifts for family? check 
    • Clothing for my children? check
    • Prom dress for a sister? check 
    • Wedding dress? check 
    • More quilts? check check check

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