January 28, 2013

Life as a Quilt


My cutting table is full of fabric rectangles of many colors. Surprisingly, these shades of green, purple, and yellow in plaid, checkers, herringbone designs go well together. I am somewhat relieved, as scrappy quilts disorient me with their multitude of colors and textures. This quilt will be another example of the “Turning Twenty” pattern. Life was wild when I was twenty…  Is it how it got its moniker? As I thoughtfully lay out each piece on my design wall, I see how quilts resemble our lives.

I am ready to sew the rectangles (blocks) together. Magically, this quilter turns into a goddess as she creates someone’s life, all powers conferred to her by the sewing machine. Happy yellow moments sewn to prosperous green ventures in one row, and turbulent purple times forever stacked next to pale green and yellow plaid trials.  A patchwork of highs and lows mixed and sprinkled throughout  rows or years, forever a part of that person’s story.

As the sewing machine hums, I see people as colorful, unique, and mysterious as the fabrics on my stash. Cotton, wool, silk… Natural or synthetic, stiff or soft handed, tight or open weave, textured or smooth, blended or not, commercially or hand dyed.

High quality quilters’ cotton abounds in my arsenal. It doesn’t shrink much, its colors rarely bleed, and quilts retain their shape and luster for years on end. The Cottons in my life have been around me since I was born, or may have entered it recently. Either way, they provide solid support, help navigate calm and troubled waters alike, celebrate or mourn with me. I rely on Cottons for a measure of sanity when a new life pattern proves more challenging than I bargained for, and I am hanging by a thread…

Equally resilient is the wool I use for appliqué projects. Virtually immune to wear and tear, dirt resistant, and natural, wool will not unravel when felted. Sheep, llamas, camels, goats, and other animal coats are present in small portions in my work, embellished with colorful threads, buttons, and beads. The Wools in my life are the elders who contribute wisdom and strength. Although some people complaint of being allergic to their scratchiness, not all Wools come from the same animal! Fortunately, I have mostly been surrounded by Cashmeres and Angoras… Their warmth and silkiness have comforted me, their abrasion resilience provided sustenance, and their experience, imparted during countless welcomed monologues, has prevented me from coming unraveled at the seams many a time.

Silk is another strong fiber I use in art quilts, and as ribbons in appliqué and embroidery work. Shimmery, cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and easily dyed to suit the user’s needs, silk’s versatility nevertheless demands extra care. The Silks in my life are those who add color to each encounter with their peculiarity, yet constant interaction with them would require more tolerance, patience, and flexibility than I ever have in store. Their mere existence alludes to the role acceptance must play in life…

The iron glides over the seams, pushing them to one side or the other, a hotter version of the wind that blows the leaves this way and that outside my window. The seams are powerless against the leveling weight of the iron. In the end, as seams accept their fate, the blocks lay perfectly flat. What began as a pile of unrelated fabric pieces now is a whole.

Relationships grow much the same way as a quilt is assembled. The effort put into the details will determine its durability. Sew straight ¼ inch seams (have integrity), or learn to live with wonky blocks and ruffled borders. Measure twice, cut once (be mindful of others), or have an endless supply of fabric to replace the mistakes. Pin (think) before you sew (speak) or, accept mismatched seams and points.

The backing fabric is taped to the floor. Next comes the batting or wadding. Finally, the quilt is placed on top. With the three layers secured I am ready to adorn it with stitches, in hopes it will age gracefully… What would a “Turning Fifty” quilt look like?


41 comments:

  1. Comovente texto,parece com uma oração.Que grande homenagem aos tecidos e técnicas você prestou com maestria,só posso dizer AMÉM para tudo que foi dito.Deus te Abençoe sempre,minha linda menina poeta.Beijos e Bençãos

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  2. You should write a book! That was a wonderful example of how a quilters mind works. I love your musings. Have a wonderful quilty kind of day Denise. xoxo

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  3. well I can't really answer your question - still enjoying the "wild" twenties. But I hope the "50"-quilt won't look too different. Maybe it will look less perfect, more laid back, not so overly concerned with matching corners and tone on tone, contrasitng hues .. maybe use some black thread to piece white fabric just because it's easier. Give less about what others think of what you make/made. A quilt that is more you and less your teachers.

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  4. LOVE your post!!! Sooooo perfectly explained....definately all about Life, people, and every day. Thank you for sharing...this was wonderful!!!

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  5. This is such a beautiful post. I love the life analogy and the fabric discussion. Although I do wish I could see the quilt, the colours and the description you give make me want to see this beautiful quilt that inspired this piece of writing.
    Thanks so much for sharing and writing your posts so beautifully.

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  6. Gosh I should take lessons from you how to write a blog post! I am always lost for words with mine. I wish I could remember when I was twenty LOL. Hugs x

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  7. Very poetic! I think a turning 50 quilt would be Gold!

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  8. I'm not sure what everyone's 50 quilts would look like, but I don't feel like I've aged much at all in the last 6 or 7 years, despite getting married and having a baby, so my current thinking is that it would probably look pretty much the same as my 20's quilt :)

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  9. I enjoyed reading that. For me a 50's quilt is going to be more muted, though I wasn't actually quilting back when I was 20

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  10. Your turning 50 quilt will be much the same, but with more variety. Maybe a bit of linen in there?
    Great post!

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  11. Very inspiring! You should write it down and put it in a book along with quilts to go with it. I think a 50 year old quilt will still be beautiful, although it is a little worn around the edges-Colorful although maybe some of the luster is gone-soft and wrinkled just a little bit,but still holding up very nicely. Your post is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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  12. Beautifully written, Denise! :o)

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  13. What amazing post. You so should be a writer.
    Hugs

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  14. Brown and green . I'm not far away myself:)

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  15. Wow, you sure had my attention. I think you should make it special. I would use my favorite fabrics and style. However you decide...I sure want to see it when it is finished.

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  16. Wonderfully said! Maybe I'm thinking too hard about the question, but, if you are asking about a "turning twenty" after 50 yrs., I'm sure it will have all the charm and warmth it had at "20'...just a bit more mellowed. If you are asking what a "Turning 50" quilt would be like...well, in my case it would all hand dyed fabrics in all values from deep to pastels to reflect the richness of 50.

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  17. I wouldn't know! And I'm in no rush to see. ;)

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  18. I think a turning 50 quilt would be rich with variety. It would represent many experiences and memories. And it would be exciting and bold.

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  19. Beautiful, Denise!! I have an old quilt that probably thinks I need to fix the frays!! I can imagine it complaining to the others. lol

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  20. have you considered professional writing

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  21. I enjoyed reading your post! And having already turned fifty, I like Leo's thinking (among others!). Thanks for sharing.

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  22. Great post! I am sure you can be a good writer.

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  23. Hello Denise!

    His affinity with the fabrics and fibers is wonderful! Makes you poetically describe them in this text. For us, it is an enrichment of knowledge in the art.
    Thanks for sharing!
    hug

    Norminha

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  24. The turning fifty quilt will probably be much the same and as you get closer to 80, you will have more stash to accommodate, and the quilts will become even more colorful. Just enjoy the process.

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  25. Turning 50 will be exactly what a turning 20 quilt looks like but more confident in it's seams and willing to put splashes of color whereever she wants and love that she did it. Great post!

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  26. Beautifully expressed....I have had some of the same thoughts as I create, but you have written it far more beautifully than I could. Wonderful and thought-provoking! Bravo!

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  27. A turning 50 quilt huh. Well a more daring but confident than a turning 20 or 30 quilt. Turning 50 quilt would be loving and cozy. And then some days it would be just downright crazy. Jeez, that is a hard question.

    I love your blog and you most wonderful way of expressing your quilt:)

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  28. I would think a 50's quilt would be even more intricate and beautiful :)

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  29. You certainly have a way with words!

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  30. I love your post. Thanks for a really good read. vickise at gmail dot com

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  31. Wonderful post.It should be published in a quilting book, specially for beginners.
    I love your blog.
    Hugs,
    Teresa

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  32. Your writing is wonderful and we can literally read your love of creating quilts. I think your turning fifty quilt needs to reflect that the best is yet to come - as in real life.

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  33. Well written! I know what a "Turning Fifty" quilt looks like--I've made many.It shows your style & colour choices, without thought of anyone else's stamp of approval.It's about showing the world (whether large or small) who you are and your vision.

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  34. Very nice. "Turning 50" quilt would be made of "the good, the bad and the ugly'" but in all would be beautiful. That is how I view my life at 53.

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  35. Can't wait to see this quilt, Denise!

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  36. I think Sandy B has the answer in her comment above. You can write; girl!! I am on to a 60's quilt..lol
    Goodness the time goes by fast!!

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  37. Lovely post!
    I am thankful for my 50's so it would have to be in org, green and blues:) Wild designs and remember 50 is the new 40:) haha!!!

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  38. Great post, very thought provoking and enjoyable to read. Am I supposed to behave differently at my age to how I behaved in my 20's? Oops got it wrong again. Anyway my quilt would be the same but probably better made as I am more patient than I used to be and certainly have more experience of life.

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