Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sewing with Family and Friends Stitches Hearts Together

The process of learning, creating and sharing as we quilt together puts us all on common ground and brings us closer, even with a large span of ages, abilities or backgrounds. There is something special about being together in the sisterhood of other quilters, whether related or not, as we create something beautiful.

For me, finishing a quilt that my mother had started piecing shortly before her death was a healing process, and a way of reaching out and connecting with her. That process started my own quilting journey, and I often think about her when I am sewing. I also remember playing under my grandmother's quilting frames, then when I was old enough, picked up the needle to help. I also remember the piles of fabric ready to piece on my great-grandmother's sewing machine on her back porch. These women would all have LOVED all the new toys and gadgets that have revolutionized the quilting world today - rotary cutting tools, longarm quilting machines like mine. Some days I can just feel them looking over my shoulder!

This is a new generation of quilting. Women still love to get together to piece their quilts, and find great joy in the process, but the days of setting up a quilt frame and having the neighbors and relatives drop in to hand quilt is somewhat of a lost art. Today, it is becoming more common for us to quilt with our checkbooks. That's right. Bring your unfinished quilt tops to me, and I will do the finishing for you!

I love the fact that my daughters (and occasionally my son) also quilt with me. I love it when one of them will say, "Hmm, I think I'll make a quilt..." and the circle rolls on. The girls and I had joined a "block of the month" club at our local quilt shop about seven years ago. The triplets were 13 at the time, and used their quilts for 4-H projects, each of them winning blue ribbons and sweepstakes prizes at the county and state fairs. A quilting demonstration also took one of them to a national competition. We also enjoy making quilts for charity together. These are usually tied quilts, a warm hug from our family to someone in need. The quilts we create are not simply cloth, batting and thread, but something truly beautiful.

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