Today marks the beginning of the Blogger’s Quilt Festival at Amy’s Creative Side, an online showcase of quilts from all around the internet and the world. As participants, we bloggers are to write a post about, well, quilts. And what those quilts, and quilting in general, has meant to us. So, here they are. My favorite quilts, the significance they hold for me, and what they have taught me about quilting and about myself.
I’m actually writing about four quilts. It’s not that I couldn’t choose one, it’s that all four were made for one particular purpose, and thus I lump them together in my mind, and I’m lumping them together in my post. I decided a year ago to make a quilt for each of my children’s birthdays, and after many, many sleepless nights and thousands of stitches, I reached my goal.
Sorry about the pictures. They’re not fantastic, but I wanted to show you the children as much as I wanted to show you the quilts. Besides, if you’ve been following my blog (and you HAVE, haven’t you???), you’ve already seen them anyway. What you haven’t seen is the look on my children’s faces when they cuddle up with their “blankies.” Actually, I’m continually surprised by how much they love their quilts. When I made them, I was actually very prepared for the disappointment they might feel when they opened their present from me and found only a blanket inside; I was prepared for them to toss the quilts aside and reach to open the next biggest package. What I wasn’t prepared for was how they would actually stop, and feel, and hold, and appreciate their quilts. They’re small children, after all, none older than four at the time. So I wasn’t expecting how much they would talk about their blankies, drag them around the house, and even vigorously defend them from one another. And this surprise taught me something about quilting.
When we quilt, we pay a lot of attention to the fundamental components of any art; color, shape, form, construction, etc. We spend hours choosing the right fabric, the right template, and the right stitch length. We labor to keep our points sharp and to make all our seams line up. And it’s not that those things don’t matter. We take pride in our work, and well we should. But even if our seams are perfect and our binding is flawless, the real significance of our countless hours of work is that one day, someone is going to sleep under what we’ve made. Someone is going to hold it and know that it was made for them and only them, and every stitch was done with them in mind. When I look at my children, snuggled night after night under the blankies I made for them, I realize that this is a big deal. This is huge. We, as quilters, are making art that is infinitely complicated, yet utterly practical and unmistakeably personal. This is art, and it should be appreciated as such, but it’s also the backdrop for bedtime stories. It is art that cushions and comforts, that warms new babies and old souls alike. It’s art that houses dreams and makes a house a home. Even little children understand that. I think maybe they understood that better than me. My children, when they received their quilts, never had to be told that their blankies were special. They knew exactly what they were getting, and they knew that they were getting the quilts because they are special, too.
Whenever I search the blogging world and see pictures of stunning quilts made lovingly as gifts, finished and ready to be handed over to their rightful owners, it takes my breath away. In what other field can one give someone something that is as beautiful as a painting or sculpture but is meant to be used every day, to be worn down by use and by love. What other art, instead of producing items meant only to be seen or heard, produces something whose sole purpose, whose very reason for existence, is to be touched. What other art form allows us to literally envelope our loved ones in warmth, a kind of distanced embrace, whenever they fall asleep?
Quilting is unique in that respect. It’s undeniably art, but rather than focusing on a concept, or a process, it focuses on a person. We pay great attention to our points and our seams, but somewhere, beneath all of that, we’re loving someone, whether it’s a baby, a friend, a relative, or ourselves. My children, and the imperfect quilts that I struggled so hard to finish on time, have shown me that this type of work comes with a sense of fulfillment that continues far beyond a quilt’s completion and long into its use. No matter how perfect or imperfect our quilts are, we, as quilters, are not only making quilts; we are actually creating warmth and comfort and putting them to use every single day.
Thank you for reading, and for following along in the quilt festival. Sorry for the long-windedness; I do love quilts and quilting. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. Bless you if you’ve made it this far, and thank you for visiting!