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How Quilting Became my Soul Mending

By Edited May 25, 2016 1 5

soul quilt

Fifteen years ago I put down my sewing endeavors. Those sewing times were highly intricate, as I had made a minimal income from my creations, and they gave me so much pleasure to be able to actually make beautiful clothes, costumes, and an occasional quilt or two. All I can figure out is that when my brother died so unexpectedly, somehow the creative seamstress in me died too. Part of it was the confusion of where his belongings went after his death, and that another sibling was given the quilt I had made him, and she said she wasn’t going to give it to me. That was positive, a compliment, and I didn’t/don’t want it back. Still, it remained a lingering image of sadness in me for all these years.

Then I was given a great blessing in the guise of my first grandchild, a lovely little girl who is turning 1 year old soon. I so wanted to give her something deep and meaningful from me, but I felt so unworthy of passing on a beautiful memory in a tangible form. Finally I became inspired by my youngest daughter who had made the effort to be present as the surprise auntie to her only niece at her birthday. You see, the family lives in a foreign country, and even inexpensive tickets run around $1500.00 round trip, and it just isn’t possible for me to go (I’m still paying off the last trip - when she was born). So, I figured I could somehow call on my past sewing talents to make her a quilt.

It is not a baby quilt with photographs sewn in the cloth or baby toy, animal images on the material. It is 3 X 3 inch squares of leftover polar fleece that I had previously cut and stored for many years. I did sense a recall that the quilt of polar fleece was to be for the mother of my grandbaby because I couldn’t stand the thought of her being cold. She was the first child to leave the country on her own and live in another for a year, and we both have a thing about being cold that bonds us to take care for each other. It’s probably not an unusual thing between a mom and daughter, it’s just ours. So, somehow this new quilt project has begun to mend my soul from those years ago that kept me at loose threads so to speak, afraid of my own accomplishments and creativity.

First I just picked a measuring board to use for a spatial area to play with the tiny squares, and pattern the way I felt was the most beautiful. I applied my visual acuity and responses from a few people to get it just so. Like in life I have learned to run my senses by a trusted, wiser friend before a final letting go of the outcome. I had to make a decision, and continue along the path to fill the layers of emptiness. By continuing to make this quilt, I have been able to interweave those rough patches and reconstruct something not totally lost.

Three big pieces made up of the tiny polar fleece squares later, and they were all ready to be mended - put together in working order. This was like a mystical journey of laying together in various ways the pieces I had wrought to be whole. It has been a soulful experience because my heart was shifting the inner way, and even when I was told by someone that he didn’t like it, and how it could have been better, I knew I had to let that go. I know that I took some action by physically making a quilt and spiritually the mending began too, that’s all that really matters.

A new border was needed. I proceeded to lay out, and cut more colorful polar fleece pieces for two sides of the quilt. That was a playful time. I imagined my grandbaby staring at the patterns and getting lost in a story of her own. No regrets were allowed in my work - I just was moving through a deep sadness and the gift was becoming mine. Soon the quilt was finished, but not quite.

Along with the new borders, a backing was necessary. No batting required because the two layers were thick enough. I like that, no padding required. It makes my healing, my soul mending in this endeavor, a joyful depth. My plan was to purchase a piece of polar fleece to use for the backing. Alas, the only sewing store in the valley where I live didn’t have much to choose from. I understand as this time of year there isn’t much call for polar fleece. Now that I am writing this out I realize that the hidden metaphor for me is to go for it and try something less expected. Something I can view for myself as being courageous to stick with my expanding soul convictions. So, I bought a piece of flannel with sock monkey images on it! Perfect, because her parents called her a little monkey, and I had gifted her with a great sock monkey at Christmas.

The unexpected joy from going forth with a universal trust of sorts, and disregarding possible outcomes, has increased my sensing of what is best for me. Once I sew the flannel backing on, I still choose to quilt tie. This means I cut yarn and zigzag a small (1 inch or so) bit of it in a seam on one of the many squares of polar fleece, to further bind the quilt together. I spent some time choosing the yarn color and viewing in my mind’s eye how it would look. I have yet to finish this, but no doubt I will, and soon. There is that part of me that zigzags to holding on to the unfinished piece, and the other part that grows stronger with the healing know how that another creative journey awaits me. Making a quilt is soul mending.



Mar 13, 2011 11:22pm
This is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. It is funny how we put down the things that bring us joy. You did an excellent job of finding how to pick it back up again, and congratulations on your grand baby.
Mar 14, 2011 12:17pm
Thank you. The words just poured out of me. I'm so glad you commented.
Mar 14, 2011 2:50pm
Great article.
Mar 15, 2011 6:26pm
Thank you for this beautiful article. I still own the quilts that were made for my by my grandmother and great-grandmother when I was a child ... and I'm a grandmother myself, now. Such a precious gift!
Mar 16, 2011 5:36pm
Yes, your comment is really true about special homemade gifts. I never experienced a homemade quilt from a parent or grandparent so it is especially meaningful. Glad you read it.
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