Friday, July 22, 2005

The Quilt

I've a good friend who makes quilts. She doesn't just make the occasional quilt...she makes lots of them...sometimes having 2 or 3 quilts on the go at one time. A few years ago I visited this friend and once again became in awe of the beautiful quilts she'd made....in awe of her patience...and in awe of the time and energy she put into said quilts.

So...due to me sometimes having stupid ideas, and with my superior knowledge of quilt making (translated = screwed in the head)...coupled with my know-it-all attitude, I embarked on a journey I've never made before.

Her: "Maybe you should try something small to begin with?"
Me: "Nah, if I'm going to do this, I want to make something substantial, something that MEANS something"
Her: "A cushion cover perhaps?"
Me: "Pah, cushion covers are for nancies."
Her: "Well, um, ok...Did you have anything in particular in mind?"
Me: "You know...just something that's piss-easy to put together, but big."
Her: "How about a lovely wall hanging? That's not too small and yet it's not too big to start off with for your first patchwork project"
Me: *not listening* "I know! I'll make a queen size bed cover!"
Her: "Uh..."
Me: *clapping hands together* "Excellent! Decision made! I can't be bothered namby pambying around with stinky cushion covers...the bed cover sounds like the plan."
Her: "Are you sure? It's awfully big for your first go at it"
Me: *still not listening* "So, you just chuck together an easy enough pattern...something you think I can handle and I'll warm up the sewing machine"
Her: *sigh* "Look, there's more to it than that."

And indeed there was. We had to find a pattern...then we had to map it out on grid paper...then I had to get material pieces that I liked. Getting the material wasn't that difficult. Sewing shops have all manner of printed cotton that patchworkers use. They're called 'fat quarters' apparently. 'Quarter' being that it's a quarter of a metre I think....'fat' being..dunno...possibly the fat-head person who's decided to take on a project of this size for their first expedition into the quilting arena.

We chose to go with the Double Irish Chain pattern...this meant no triangular bits of material...all squares..two different sizes...3 inch and 9 inch...ok...squares are good, I can cope with that. As the days went by, the more I thought about what I wanted, the more I gave myself headaches. Ideas shaped themselves in my head as to what I wanted this quilt to be. Why did it have to mean something? Why couldn't I just throw together bits of material, sew it up and "Hey Presto!..Behold!...A Quilt Is Born!"? But no, if I was going to jump in feet first and do this, I wanted to do it properly, and I wanted to be happy with the result.

After cutting out the required pieces in the right size...I lay down a sheet in the middle of the lounge floor....then lay the cloth pieces down where I thought they would look best on top of it. It was like a big jigsaw puzzle (only with square pieces). For a couple of weeks I stalked around that sheet....moving pieces to different places....taking some out, replacing them with others I liked better. I believe, the length of time it took me before I actually starting sewing anything, was due to my past experience with a sewing machine. I didn't want to spend my nights unpicking my wonky attempts. Therefore I reasoned, the longer I left it before I started sewing, the longer it would be before I was squinting well into the night unpicking it.

I asked various questions of the children. What they liked...what would spring to mind when they thought of their grandparents?....what colours did they think went best and where?. Did they like 'this'? and did they like 'that'? 14 was only 9 at the time and he was fascinated with the quilt. He would spend hours sitting on the floor, to the side of it, staring...sometimes moving to sit on the other side of it for a different view....then come to me later and offer a suggestion. 15 took it with a grain of salt and the attitude of "Another one of mum's things she'll likely regret later"...although it didn't stop him putting in his two cents worth.

I finally started sewing....and as I began, quilt-excitement took over our household. The quilt became the focus of our existence. We lived for the quilt. We dreamed in quilt-technicolour...we slept, ate and breathed the quilt! We were at one...with...the...QUILT!

To be continued....
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