the end of the beginning

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I remember well a quilting frame as much a part of my grandmother's house as the sofa. One year for my birthday my parents took me up to my room and there, all set up and dressed in a quilt, handmade by my grandma, was a canopy bed. I felt like a princess!

She could also knit and crochet. While she was able, for my first 3 babies, she crocheted them each a blanket and knit them many a sweater. Now, four years after her passing, I would love nothing more than to sit by her side and learn all she knows. 

I have, for the last year and a half, been somewhere in the process of making quilts for my three girls. The beginning part was such fun. This is the choosing of the fabric! Next you prepare it by washing and drying it, and then comes the cutting. Since these were my first quilts I went with a simple square pattern. I then laid all the squares out on the floor and put together a plan. Not too much of one color next to the same, intersperse patterned pieces and plain (repeat this step after your little ones find such fun in walking through all your hard work, kicking squares and giggling up a storm). Then comes the sewing together of the squares. No matter how precisely I cut and regardless of all the time spent measuring, some corners just did not line up. I had to let this go. It was around this time that I simply lost steam. The quilt tops lay folded up in a tidy pile over the course of the next year. 

We have for the last few years been making the Christmas gifts we give to our children. Each November Darren and I decided what we want to make and get to work. The children have followed suit and now every Christmas it feels like Santa's workshop around here. We have too much fun, crafting and whispering, building and hiding for and from each other. 

As Darren and I talked about what to do for the 2 older girls, those quilt tops came back to my mind and I knew it was time to pull then out. They would make the perfect partner gift to our plan. So out came the tops and the safety pins. My sweet sister-in-law and I went to the church, taped quilts to the floor and for hours we pinned. 

Ready to sew tops, bottoms, and in-betweens together, I had grand ideas of hand-stitching each one. After a few hours of this I realized that as wonderful as that would be, if I wanted to get them done in time I would need to use the machine. So with a cute stitch I sewed and sewed and sewed - everything sandwiched together, ready for the final step.

I went to the fabric store to find the perfect binding. I do not recommend this. It can be quite a dangerous thing to do. You see after a year and a half of looking at the same fabric, one can get to the point of loathing. I fell in love with so many fabrics, none of which went with my quilts. I had visions of scrapping them and starting all over again. I could not find anything I liked that would go with what I had already chosen. So after an hour I walked out of the store empty handed. With one hope left I went across the street to the quilting shop. When the sweet lady quilter behind the counter asked if she could help I said, "Yes! Please! I need you to help me fall in love with my quilts again." Like only a grandmother could she told me to go and get my quilts from the van. Within 2 minutes I had the most perfect fabric, three of the most perfect fabrics, with which to bind (as all of the quilts are the same I wanted to bind each quilt with a different fabric for each girl). She did it. I fell out of loath and back into love, and I am happy to report that even though my little one was not changed out of her jammies all day I am finished. 

I like to imagine that my grandmother is pleased. I thought about her more than usual, every stitch of the way. I am now an official quilter, through and through, hooked for life. So even though she did not teach me to quilt, I imagine my love for the thing as come from her. Thank you Grandma.

The only problem really is that I neither have enough children nor beds for all the quilts I want to make!