What do you do with all the quilts?

Why a quilt?

I get asked many times -“what do you do with so many quilts you make?” Or “nobody uses quilts anymore do they?” “Quilts are old fashioned now- why bother making your own?” My answer is ‘because I can’, ‘because I love the process’, ‘because people really appreciate the time and effort put into them”. In this day and age of Moonpig cards, where your hand doesn’t even touch the product, it’s so so refreshing and enjoyable to receive a hand made gift.

For this particular project, which was made for a lady who has just had a mastectomy, it was my ‘go-to’ solution for how on earth I could possibly help at all. I found out on February 13th and she had the operation on February 21st and was out of hospital that evening! She’s currently doing very well and getting adjusted to the situation, thankfully. She is very brave and a positive thinker. When I first heard, I just panicked. “What the hell do I say?” “Will I say the ‘wrong’ thing?” “What can I give her to show my support?”

Another friend made her two home made lasagnas, which I thought was a fab idea to give her; to save them having to cook themselves. I don’t like cooking at all though. ‘The lady’ is a great cook too, so there’s no way I felt up to that challenge.

Where the inspiration came from

I decided within a couple of hours, that the best thing for me, was to make her a quilt. As it happened, I had just a couple of days prior, seen someone on Instagram called Maker_Mrs posting a photo of her cat quilt she made for the Siblings Together charity. I thought it looked cool and easy and then found out that it was a Missouri Star quilt video , so I went for that straight away as ‘this lady’ is a cat lover.  The batik fabric happened during my fabric pick for it. I found that in my stash and then wondered what background fabric to use. The orange seemed the right choice, as I wanted it to be bright and happy for her. At the time I was worried that she might be a bit down about the op, so happy colours were the choice. The batiks are good, as it allows me to use many colours yet they all coordinate and don’t have any particular pattern to them.

What I wanted the quilt to say

I not only wanted the quilt to be my way of showing I cared but also to provide a happy, bright item to have around her. That’s particularly so, when you consider the time of year and how grey it is. I also wanted it to give her positive words and thoughts. The backing fabric almost gave me more grief than the front. I could’ve embroidered positive words on plain fabric with my embroidery machine but that takes time.sew hope full fabric from Windham for cat quilt

Time was not on my side. I wanted to get that quilt to her as soon as I could, especially when I found out it was day surgery! Can you believe that? Such major surgery and you only stay in hospital a few hours? It shocked me. I did a bit of an internet search and thank heavens I found Fiona Garth’s shop ‘Quilt Sandwich’ stocked ‘sew hope full’ by Windham fabrics

That was just the ticket!

How long I had to make it

Ordering the fabric and making the top section may have been very efficient use of time but yes, even ‘easy’ quilts take some of your time and you can’t get them done in an hour.  The patchwork pals met on Tuesday, so I got lots done then and the rest when I could squeeze it in; even on the morning when I was due to take the quilt to her! I love the process of choosing fabrics. Life doesn’t stop just because you have a quilt gift to make. There is still work to do and dogs to walk etc.  I wouldn’t recommend only giving yourself a week to make something like this but it can push the creative juices and focus to it’s limits. You feel a sense of satisfaction. You know you’re doing it for someone who has far more to think about.  That’s drive enough.

Cat lap quilt using Missouri Star Quilt company pins and paws pattern

Is it worth making a quilt as a gift?

Of course I think it is worth it. I get great satisfaction in the actual making process and the recipient can enjoy different aspects of it, even if it never gets put on a bed. This cat quilt, is only lap size, so I’m hoping it lives in their living room or the car even. Wherever, I’m happy knowing that it’s now in ‘that lady’s’ life and I did it. A quilt doesn’t make the cancer go away (if only it was that easy) and it doesn’t cook dinners but it is really the time and thought taken which can help the person think positively. She’ll associate it with me, always and hopefully that thought will put a smile on her face. That makes everything ok.

Cat lap quilt using Missouri Star Quilt company pins and paws pattern                          Cat lap quilt using batik fabric

Old fashioned?

Do I really need to answer that? No. Thought not.  Those colours. That design. Definitely modern.

I tell you what was old fashioned though, was the way I had to cut the layers (top, wadding, backing). I had to do that at home and I didn’t have my rotary cutter, rulers or mat with me, so scissors it was! That is not a great way to cut anything straight! But hey, it had to be done. People always used to cut their quilts that way.  ‘Get it made, not perfect’ is usually my mantra.Cutting quilt layers with scissors

 

 

 

 

Do quilters live in a bubble where everything is nice and rosy?

Some people do seem to think that patchwork is where ladies sit around in a world of pretty roses in a sunny garden, making tea and eating scones in a delightful world. Hells bells! Wish that were true! If it were, cancer certainly wouldn’t exist! Neither would bloomin’ traffic issues! I finished  it and before I nipped in the car, I got my daughter to ‘twirl’ the quilt for me a few times for photos (much to her delight in front of our bemused neighbours). I had closed the studio, with a very understanding client saying that she would forego a sewing session and I was to go off and deliver the quilt. Hi ho, hi ho, off I went in the sunshine thankfully, as the day previously ‘storm Doris’ had struck.

I was feeling oh so righteous but then it took me 40 minutes to get through Stockton Heath, when it should take 15 mins. Then WHAM! Road closure sign right on a roundabout! NOOOOO! I tried an alternative route only to be scuppered by the M6. I tried yet another different way and BAM! Big traffic jam!

The traffic had stopped me in my mission. No point going any further. I was livid! 

Several very deep breaths later;  trying to calm down before phoning ‘that lady’ to explain that I couldn’t make it. I was beaten and felt useless. A few hours after though, I walked the dogs to the post office and got it sent and she received it on Saturday and loved it thankfully.

Everything worthwhile takes effort

No miracle cure. No actual presenting of the gift with smiles all around. I still love that I did it and her response. My best effort was given and I have to accept that as good enough. Just imagine how I had felt if I hadn’t done anything because of the million reasons which could’ve stopped me making it.

Quilting/patchwork is real life. Giving generously of your time. Doing what you can in your situation. It’s not the only thing which does that but it’s my thing.

Decorative stitching used as alternative to binding

It’s my jam!

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