Day 13 — Last week I made a baby quilt for our first grandchild.
Thank goodness I am home alone — no cooking, no housework and no opportunity to keep up with daily blog posts.
Last Monday I realized that a deadline loomed — a baby shower for our daughter-in-law would be held in six days — on Saturday. I had promised to make a quilt as one of the gifts I would bring.
Anyone who has ever quilted knows that piecing together many bits of fabric is not easy — nor is it quick. I had never made a quilt so time and precision needed was a surprise.
The quilt project began last November when I purchased the fabric and let people know that I was making a quilt.
I also purchased several quilting books that provided some guidance for the project. From years of completing sewing projects, I had good sewing skills. I expected that I could take my time and complete a baby quilt with no difficulty.
What I didn’t realize — until I read the books on making a quilt — was that quilters don’t use scissors for cutting.
Fabric is cut with a rotary cutter on a ‘healing’ mat and cutting with transparent rulers and triangles. These tools allow exactness and accuracy when cutting the squares and shapes for a quilt.
On Monday morning I made a trip to the quilt shop to buy the required items. I spent the afternoon practising using the cutter on scrap fabrics. A day passed.
Cutting the pieces for the quilt began on Tuesday. The pattern called for 49 squares measuring 6 inches by 6 inches. Each square was filled with a centre block and four triangles of various colours and patterns. When I finished cutting I had 294 pieces that needed to be stitched together. Another day passed.
Time was running out. I decided that there would be no visits to the gym or the pool, no bridge games, no knitting, no reading, no blog posts, and no lunches with friends until I finished the quilt.
I got up early and sewed all day for two straight days to finish the 49 pieces.
I spent another day doing decorative hand stitching on each of the 49 pieces.
Finally it was time to lay out the 49 squares on the dining room table and consider how they would be organized to make an attractive quilt top.
That step done, I sewed the squares together, pressed the quilt top and arranged it over the filling and the backing. I basted and pinned and fussed around as the quilt was now quite thick and heavy. It measured 42 inches by 42 inches and was getting to a size that made it difficult to manage.
Thank goodness my sewing machine was strong enough to handle sewing together the many layers! It took a few attempts as the fabric kept bunching. With a bit of ripping and more patience than I thought possible, the quilt came together ready for hand-stitching the binding into place.
Hours passed. My fingers ached from needle pricks. My back ached from sitting and standing in awkward positions. I drank too much coffee and stayed up late every night stitching, pressing and matching quilt blocks but I finished in time for the baby shower.
I didn’t mind that this quilt took up most of my week. I made it with love. Stitched into every block are my dreams for the grand child who will be born in early May.
The quilt is beautiful — colourful, soft, and pleasant to touch. Among an over-abundance of toys, books, clothes, carriers, accessories and other baby paraphernalia, the quilt was the only hand-made gift.
In a disposable culture with too many throwaway items this quilt represents a commitment to welcome this child into our family with a helping hand and an open heart.
The process of creating the quilt was emotionally intense. The week of uninterrupted time allowed for deep thinking about life; about preceding generations; about family traditions; about hopes and dreams for the future grand child.
The quilt is what is known in psychology as a ‘transitional object’. It represents my commitment to help our son and daughter-in-law nurture and love and care for their child. What greater gift can a soon-to-be grand parent offer?