One of my BFF’s, Kim Arnold: quilt maker, artist, pastry guru, good listener, chocolate lover, now Extreme Home Makeover’er’, and wife and parent extraordinaire…taught me how to quilt the summer of 1998. I was grieving the loss of two people I loved dearly who died within days of each other…the best father-in-law in the whole wide world, Steve Graves, and one of the sweetest young girls who loved God and wanted to move to Africa and love on kids, one of my RA’s, Elizabeth Munns. Kim lost her mom so she knew how important it was to stand alongside another ‘griever’. That summer I went to Kim’s house every day for several weeks to sew, laugh, cry and eat chocolate. I fell in love with making quilts and made several for friend’s babies and a couple of bigger ones, one which a few of us collaborated on. I tell you what, learning how to quilt was part of my grief therapy. Truly, making something with my hands proved to be therapeutic.

Well, recently, okay, not really recently, for the last year and a half or more, Em’s been asking me to show her how to sew…by hand. The request sounded excruciating! I would rather pull my teeth out one by one than sew something by hand…that’s what I have a fancy machine for! A side note: the summer I was learning how to quilt, Jason’s very sweet grandma, a master quilter and seamstress herself, asked me if I was learning to quilt by hand or machine. I said plainly, “Machine”. She said with love and pity (J/K), “Oh, that’s okay…” (She passed away 4 months after Jason’s dad.) So, in the purest form, no, I am not a ‘quilter’, but I know how to sew and when I put material together, namely squares, somehow a ‘quilt’ appears. Either way, I decided Em was old enough to learn how to feed material through a machine under my close supervision, and in doing so, we’d avoid the whole needle through the finger/hand sewing experience. She is doing splendidly!

She wanted to use material that had meaning, so I let her pick out some material that I used in her curtains, from her baby quilt, from old pajamas, and stuff I had picked out prior to ever having kids that’s all ‘tea cup/tea party style’ that I never used. She wondered about Noah’s material from his bedroom, but I wasn’t ready to deal with it. I told her we’d do something special with it…maybe her next quilt. Maybe I suck, maybe I don’t…I just wasn’t ready to deal…Anyway, then I cut the pieces into either 3.5″ squares for four-patches or 6.5″ squares for some larger pieces that would ‘pop’. She laid it out on the basement floor and designed it herself! Below is the artist in residence with her design.

Posing with her soon to be blanket…

Here she is feeding material through the machine. I am not sewing any of it for her. I’m just directing and also doing the ironing between steps. Let’s not push it…6 year olds can’t iron! But boy when she is old enough, she can work on my pile from the last 3 years

Here is her first complete row! Nice, huh?!

And, to finish the quilt off, we are binding it with the fringe from Jason’s grandma’s old chenille bedding, which was Em’s idea. While the creative juices were flowing, she also sketched some dresses she’d like me to ‘whip up’ while I’m sitting around eating bon-bons in my free time. Actually, her sketches are pretty stinking cool, so maybe one day you’ll be wearing them!

Thanks for letting me dote on my kid! Have fun doting on yours!
And by the way, if you have a talent, pay it forward…THANKS, KIM! I love you! xoxox



15 Responses

  1. I saw those dress sketches and I am hoping you can whip one together for me sooner than later 🙂 Love you, and your kid.

  2. Wow! I love it. I learned to quilt in my mid-20s. I set out to sew a queen-size piece, but decided a twin was sufficient. It’s all put together, but only half of it is quilted. I’ve never finished the ther half. Hmmm… probably never will. And I may never pass it on to my kids… we’ll see.

    Em is adorable. You all should come visit again.

  3. Look at that…you are teaching her your style as well (using anything you have on hand) or maybe it’s just inherited. I love it. That is so great that she is so into it like you. Izy learned that as well but not from me. I still really like the pattern 🙂
    Singer makes a great basic no-frills machine when you are interested in getting her one of her own. Izy loves hers (except when she put the needle thru her finger-remember my instruction 🙂
    luv ya friend

  4. i am totally and completely impressed! WAY TO GO EM! YOU ARE DOING LOOOVELY WORK! that is going to be SUCH a beautiful quilt.

    i need to learn the steps because i’ve been saving some special things for a few different quilts… one day when i take a break from my own ‘bon bons’ maybe i’ll give it a shot. 🙂

  5. Adrienne, do you realize what a wonderful thing you are teaching Em?
    So few moms nowadays know how to sew, or do any handicrafts at all (I do counted cross-stitch).
    Em will thank you big time when she gets older, Help her to keep it up and to have lots of fun with her new quilt!

  6. What a blessing to have a friend who could “grieve” alongside you in such an available and loving way!

    Emily is doing such a great job! She is going to be SO proud of her very own quilt that she made herself. What a fun project for you to work on together. She is going to enjoy having that skill and it is one that will stick with her even when she is older.

  7. Fantastic. I’m worthless for sewing (and most other craft-y things), but I have an amazingly creative daughter too. Fortunately, my fabulous mother-in-law can make ANYTHING, so she and my Anna have made outfits (sketched by Anna) together. The coolest was a fairy costume for Halloween. 🙂

  8. Our own little H-Bear has been begging me to make a quilt. She is a little younger than Em… but this gives me hope!Today I told H. that it would likely take years, but maybe not! Precious!

  9. I just realized you lost your father-in-law the same year my dad died. Oh, 1998. Some days it hurts to think about you.

    I’m so happy you have Em around to cheer you and us! I love how cheery that quilt is going to be when it’s done 🙂

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