Putting your pieces together
Posted on March 7, 2012
I started this quilt about a year and a half ago. I got the notion that I was going to make a quilt for my son’s first birthday when I happened to come across this fantastic quilting store in midtown Manhattan (The City Quilter). If any of you watch HGTV or any of those home repair shows than I’m sure you have all at one time or another told yourselves “Well, gosh darn it, I’m going to take down my six kitchen cabinets, sand them and paint them a nice purple eggplant, oh and come to think of it, I’m going to add that nice red Italian tile for a backsplash while I’m at it.” Of course, unless you’re The Property Brothers or the crew from America’s Home Makeover then it’s going to be awhile before my quilt and your kitchen cabinets get done, but how does that saying go “I am nothing if not ambitious?” So here I am at the quilt store mulling over beautiful fabrics and patterns feeling like Laura Ingalls Wilder herself. Finally, I settle on a pattern and fabric and ride my modern means of transportation back to my little house in the woods. I start working on my quilt that weekend, and after devoting a good amount of time, I put my quilt away and tell myself that operation make-a-quilt-for-Henry’s birthday will resume in a couple of days. I mean at this point I have about 3 and half weeks left until my son’s first birthday. “Plenty of time,” I tell myself, to get his precious heirloom finished (yes, I can hear your laughter a mile away).
Well, Henry’s first birthday came and went and I lament that his mama was not able to give him the intended birthday gift in time. My Laura Ingalls Wilder persona became so busy taking care of things on the frontier that I was relegated to working on my son’s quilt at odd times of the day or night. Every so often I would work on a couple of rows and play around with how I wanted my squares to look. Since there were so many different pieces of fabric squares, and countless ways to arrange them, my quilt could have ended up with a completely different look and feel. The finished product depended on the placement of those squares. In the midst of creating my quilt I was also in the middle of gathering information for potential places to move to. My husband and I had discussed that if we were to move out of the city then what would we want to have around us? What would our day-to-day entail? What would we want for our son and for ourselves? You could say that as I whittled down my choices and options of squares on my quilt I was doing the same as to where to move to.
At one point, months went by, in which I wasn’t able to work on Henry’s quilt. One evening I got the opportunity to work on it again and when I opened up the quilt I saw that I had just seven rows left to put together. I started working on the rows by laying out my squares, but something didn’t look right. I didn’t like how my quilt was looking or more importantly feeling. I was perplexed. The squares were the same, but somehow they weren’t working well together. I tried several different ways of arranging them, but each time I just felt crestfallen and the last thing you want to feel when holding a handmade quilt is crestfallen. I also felt that I was short on fabric. Hmm, “maybe I’m losing my mind,” I thought. When I got to the last row and was about to start sewing, as luck would have it (or divine intervention), I needed to get something in my quilting bag and there tucked away to the side were several folded pieces of paper and in them were the last seven rows of squares that I had already arranged months ago, but in all this wonderful chaos called life had completely forgotten. I hurriedly removed the last seven rows of squares that I had been about to sew and in its place I put the squares that I had already picked out, but had not gotten the chance to pin onto my quilt. As I finished putting on the last square I took a step back and surveyed my quilt. Ah! Now my quilt made sense. The squares flowed. The colors complemented one another. It was a quilt that at least for me I wanted to wrap around myself. I called it the “happy quilt” for that’s how I felt when I looked at it.
After that night it took me another couple of months to completely finish my labor of love that I had started a year and a half ago. Every time I worked on it I was reminded of all the changes that have taken place in my life since I started that quilt. These steps entailed a lot of researching, planning and a lot of discussion. However, sometimes when the topic of moving seem to be just too much (for it is such a big move in someone’s life) we would take a time out. As exciting as the topic of moving can be, it can also be overwhelming, and it was during these times that we would just leave it alone in order for it to ferment and see what rose to the top. The leaving alone was just as important as the researching and planning. It was during the times of not being proactive that actually yielded us the most results. When the time came to revisit how we were feeling about moving to a particular place we were more refreshed and better able to channel into what we really wanted. We were better able to discern if a particular place flowed for us or not. It’s not unlike when I left that quilt alone for a couple of months and realized that the pattern I started arranging at the end wasn’t jelling. I couldn’t exactly explain it, but I just knew it wasn’t working and that’s how I felt about a lot of places that I eventually crossed off my list. After putting all your pieces together you have to heed to that voice that says whether your pieces are flowing or not. At its core that voice is guiding you to make a quilt that leaves you feeling warm and happy as well as guiding you to a place that you can call home.