Friday, August 25, 2006

Why I Do What You Do

Patty asked us to share why we quilt. I've spent some thinking about it and I hope you indulge me and read my answer.

Quintessential art form for many centuries. How else can someone stay warm when the leaves start to change color and the temperature drops? What do you cuddle under when the snow is falling so hard you can’t see across the street? What does a new mother use to cuddle with her newborn?

Under the watchful eye of grandma I carefully traced the cardboard square onto the red and blue and yellow calicos. The squares were cut with dressmaker shears and gently laid out on the 1950’s table in a simple 4-patch. Patch by patch I carried the small stacks upstairs to sew them together on grandma’s Singer Machine. The top was sewn together. There was no batting, just a backing and the pieces were tied together.

I learned many other needle crafts from grandma: needlepoint on canvas, crochet (even though I’m left handed and she was right handed), making Christmas ornaments and mats from beads. I also learned to sew clothes from her. On my own I learned cross stitching. I even took art classes for two years trying to find my “creative self”; but there was something missing. I wasn’t feeling creatively satisfied. Not until I re-discovered this wonderful craft.

Lovely bits of fabric danced across Aunt Judy’s guest bed on a crisp summer morning. Tell me about them, I asked her. They are the aprons her mother wore to work at the brush factory. When she died her sister took the aprons, cut them into two inch squares and sewed them back together, creating a wonderful family heirloom.

The fabric speaks to me from across the room. It has patiently waited while I played with paper and pencil and doodled out a new design. I can’t wait to cut up the fabric and put it back together again. Whether I use my sewing machine and speed piece or hand piece a patch while riding to work, the fabric seems to flow through my fingers. One piece after another after another. A triangle here, a square there, some bright purple fabric, along with some subtle green. Soon another one is born . . . . and another is begun.

Do you get it? Let me know if you solve the puzzle.


Patti said...

I love it Paula! I never would have thought to use the letters in the word "quilt". What a wonderful bit of prose you have written!

EileenKNY said...

Great writing, Paula; and such a heart-warming story.

Victoria said...

I got it!!! QUILT!!!! A quilter and a writer!!! Good for you...Victoria