It’s getting cooler outside, which means it’s more fun to snuggle up under a quilt or blanket at night.
Maybe with a cup of hot cider.
I love the fact that my son will often reach for the quilt on the back of the couch to snuggle under while watching TV.
It’s a simple nine-patch quilt, and there’s nothing fancy about it, but the blocks were hand-pieced by my great grandmother and my her mother.
Then my grandmother stitched them together on a machine using fabric from her stash.
Somehow, she never found time to quilt the top.
After she died, the quilt top landed with me where it waited in the cedar chest for years, until I finally came to grips with the fact that quilts don’t magically quilt themselves.
At first, I thought about getting the local church ladies-aid group to quilt it. Then one day I felt a twinge as I looked at it.
Hmmmm….maybe it was time to give quilting a try?
I talked my mom into sewing the backing together (so it would be a five-generation quilt), bought myself some hand quilting needles and thread, scrounged up some cotton batting, and took the plunge.
I hoped maybe I’d get lucky and it would turn out to be genetic — turns out it was.
So, the fact that this nine-patch is a five-generation quilt is one reason it’s special.
But that’s not the reason it’s my favorite.
It’s my favorite because it’s my first — the quilt that represents a leap into the unknown, trying something totally new and different with no guarantee of success.
And here’s biggest reason this is my favorite quilt: it shows such progress.
I started quilting in the center, so when I fold the quilt into quarters, it’s easy to find where I began.
Even without all the folding, it’s easy to see because those first stitches are long and irregular. The closer to the edges of the quilt I got the more even my stitches became, the smaller my stitches got.
This quilt is a time capsule.
It’s a concrete way of seeing progress being made over the year it took me to finish that quilt.
When I compare the stitches on my current projects to that first one, I can see just how much my quilting has improved over the years — how much I’ve grown.
And that same thing is true of anything!
So when I look at my current work — writing, quilting, gardening, or whatever — I see all the places I’ve fallen short. A typo here, a wrong piece of fabric there, a thriving bunch of weeds in the corner.
Then I step back and take the long view of my personal history.
Even though today might be difficult, I’ve got a 100% success rate on getting through difficult days (because I’m still here).
And even though sometimes it feels embarrassing to look back (think yearbook photos!), it’s only by looking back that we see how far we’ve come.
These days I choose to think of yesterday’s failures and missteps as souvenirs of an interesting life. And when I look at those souvenirs like that nine-patch quilt, I see I’m making progress.
If you look, I’ll bet you’re making progress, too.
Bev Newton says
Wow…5 generations! Love the story of the quilt and all that it represents.
Michelle Markling says
What a beautiful story. I get so busy creating my own quilts that I forget the quilt tops passed down to me by my Great Grandmother pieced by her, her sisters, cousins and my Great Great Grandmother at their quilting bees. Tomorrow I will start a hand quilting project thank you for the nudge.
It’s fun to be part of a project that’s more than a hundred years in the making! Good luck!!
Mary Loker says
It’s opening day of our quilt show here in Springfield MO and my goodness, your post is so perfectly timed. In 2012, I walked into this guild’s quilt show for the first time and was amazed at the breadth of the show. I certainly never imagined myself having a sizeable role in getting it done. Now here we are in 2018 and I find myself finishing up two years as the show chairman and what an incredible journey it’s been. Great learning experiences and the chance to get to know numerous women, and one man, who joined together in a spirit of cooperation and determination to get it all ready.
Hey — have a great show and CONGRATULATIONS on the progress in your journey!!
I’m up here in Jeff City, so next year I’ll try to get down and see what what’s going on in your neck of the woods (and my family loves the Springfield antique shops!).
Pam Clark says
My dear mother passed away in 2009. We were cleaning out some of her things last year and discovered some pieced tops that my mom had made but never told anyone about. My sister has a long-arm quilting machine, so she took them home back to Portland, OR, and quilted them. A few weeks ago, she brought the quilted quilts back to Iowa. I got one, my other sister got one, and my sister from Portland got one. My sister did not finish the binding. She told me and my other sister that we could do that. So I finally got mine finished now, and it’s beautiful. I proudly display it on the back of my couch and I get such comfort from snuggling under it on these chilly fall nights.
That is such a beautiful gift — all the love through the years stitch together in one place.