Monday, September 2, 2013

What I've learned from quilting lately

Hmm, I'm not sure if I can actually type this evening. I had to dig my wrist brace out of my closet this morning because I woke up with what is surely tendinitis in my bad left wrist. It was completely worth it, however, because, after 100 quilts, I finally got up the courage to do an entire quilt with what is called 'free-motion' quilting. It took me two days, and 4 bobbins, but I finished it, and LOVE it. And it wasn't really so hard, once I got the hang of moving the quilt around. But obviously my left wrist took the brunt of it. So here I am with my ever-ready wrist brace.

As I was quilting my loops, and swoops, moving the quilt backwards and forwards, never lifting the needle (until the bobbin ran out of thread) I got to thinking about why it is that it took me so long to dive into this part/kind of quilting. It reminded me of how long I talked about wanting to  start quilting in the first place before I actually made my first cut into fabric. Years, really. I think I've wanted to be a quilter since I was a little girl sleeping under the quilts my grandmother made for us. In those days I didn't think of quilts as anything special, though. In fact, I envied my friends who had rooms that were color-coordinated with matching bedspreads, sheets and curtains. My bed had either one or two quilts on it (depending on the time of year), and they didn't even match each other, let alone the one on my sister's bed across the room. They were just quilts, and we just layered them up as we needed them. And I didn't appreciate them one little bit.

Then I grew up and began to realize what treasures they were. How amazing they ARE. Art and comfort and love and heritage all wrapped up together. And I wanted in on it. Wanted to take up my needles and fabric as the granddaughter of my Kansas grandmother and do her proud. Extend love to those I love as she had. As her mother and grandmother had before her.

But it seemed so beyond me. So hard. So, SO hard. And I wasn't starting from nothing. That is, I've known how to sew since I was about 10 years old and learned on the peddle machine at our family's cabin (where there was no electricity back then) on Whidbey Island. When our girls were small, I made all their dresses. When I was young, I made most of my own dresses as well. Shoot, my sister and I made my five bridesmaid dresses in about five weeks and those things were so enormous (think the era of Princess Diana) they needed hoop skirts under them--which my mother gladly bought).

But quilts seemed like a huge leap beyond making dresses.
I don't know why, looking back. Mostly quilting is simply sewing in straight lines. In fact, these days, I don't even use pins to hold my fabric together. They just slow down the whole process.

The thing is, it was the fear that kept me from quilting for the longest time. The fear that I couldn't learn. That I wouldn't be up to the challenge of it. Not quite good enough, or creative enough, or maybe just sew a straight line. Or all of the above.

And that's the case with most things, I think. We always stand at the edge of 'doing' because we think we can't. Or we think we aren't. That's it, we really get stuck on what we think we aren't. And that's exactly where the enemy wants us to stand. So we stand there until we really can't do that thing. We talk about it (the way I did about quilting--redundantly!!) but we never really take that step. I wonder how much of life I've missed because I just won't take that step. I just can't. It's too big, too much, too outside my box.

Of course, there are some personalities who thrive on new things, who take steps and chances, and lean into adventure without a second thought. I can't imagine being like that. But I do wish I could step out a little easier. More quickly. Because when I do, I discover how much it's worth least, most of the time. Or, discover, quickly, how it isn't right, which is okay too.

It's the stepping out that counts. The stepping out and doing. Being willing to take a chance, and discovering that this thing one's always wanted to do is every bit as great as one imagined. Every bit as fun and creative and wildly colorful as this quilt I just finished. Sure, I got tendinitis. But I got a whole lot more too. And I'm not going back.

So tell me, what are you wishing and hoping and wanting to do...but just not quite sure you're up to doing? Lean in, my friends. Take a step. It's so worth it.

Here's the quilt I just finished--pre-quilting, though. I'll have to update this post tomorrow when it gets out of the dryer, so you can see how it turned out quilted.

Update: Front and back of the quilt, all washed, dried and ready to be shipped to its new owner. Free-motion-quilted with my love.

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