First the backstory (because there’s always a backstory). I met Evelyn a few years ago at work. We became friends and when Samuel was born, she made an insanely amazing quilt for him. That’s when I learned she was not just a sharp statistician, she was an outstanding quilter. (She’s quite humble so of course I hadn’t heard this before.)
I commented to Evelyn, I wish I could sew like that. Years passed and with two little boys, I didn’t think about it much. Evelyn retired and we stayed friends, meeting when we could for lunch or walks. I moved, and now Evelyn only lived a few miles from me.
Two years ago when Evelyn first mentioned she might move closer to family, I said, “I wish I’d gotten you to teach me to sew.” She said, “It’s never too late.”
Evelyn taught me everything and was on speed dial when I had the tiniest of questions. She came over one day and we made a pillowcase together. It looked great. When I made a pillowcase on my own? Yep, not so much. We couldn’t even get the pillow stuffed in there. But Evelyn would compliment my progress and give me another project idea.
That led to more pillowcases, table runners, then some miserable looking pajamas (for the entire family of course before I learned I don’t like sewing curved lines), curtains, Roman shades, several bags. At that point, I wanted to learn to make a quilt.
Funny side bar: here’s a pair of the mis-stitched pajamas – these were supposed to be long flannel pajamas when something went horribly wrong, ha! I couldn’t stop laughing even though I had to pick out almost every stitch. I see these pajamas in my head every time someone asks me “can you make me a… ”
I bought the pattern. And I held on to it for eight months. It looked like way more work than I realized. But I’d set a New Years resolution…
Finally, I busted out the fabric. And cut, and cut, and cut. And then pieced, and pieced. Every rectangle was actually five pieces of fabric around each square. Then, I basted it and was ready to quilt it.
Oh did the fun begin…I couldn’t manage the weight of the quilt and the stitches were so bad. I reached out to my supportive Serendipity Woods block of the month Facebook group (yep, I’d already started a second quilt by this stage). They reminded me not to obsess about details – that a quilt is best viewed by someone riding by on a horse, not up close and personal.
And they offered a lot of great advice – I paid a wood worker to “sink” my machine into the table for a flat surface, I bought some quilting gloves, and a mat to help it slide.
I watched videos of walking foot quilting, free motion quilting, and a few weeks later when I got my table and machine back, I tried again.
It didn’t go much better. I had lots of broken thread and a few broken needles. I ran out of thread and ended up using different colors and types of thread. I almost threw it away, I was so disgusted by some of the mishaps, but I was determined if I threw it away, it would be thrown away as a finished quilt – not some hot mess of pieces. So I kept plugging.
As the quilt was being made…
“Mama, that is epic. I can’t believe you watched a video and learned all that. You’re like a master at this.”
“Wow, you’re the best quilt maker anywhere. Will you make me a quilt?”
Then when the quilt was done. They carried it gently down the stairs like it was a prize possession, not wanting it to drag the stairs.
I giggled at their comments, but then I realized. They see something ENTIRELY different than I do when I looked at the quilt. And I came to see it through their eyes and rather than the multitude of mistakes, I began to see the beauty in the end result. That quilt represented so many lessons about quilting and about the support of passionate people.