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.
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!