Everything begins with an idea. In the case of my passion for quilting it all began with my best friend, M. The two of us were very close with our best friend, T., who would be graduating college that year and moving far away. One day, as we were discussing this bittersweet event M. turned to me and said: “Hey, we should make her a quilt!” Whereupon I replied, “Yeah, that’s a great idea!” Thus began an epic quest to design and create a quilt in a short time whilst having absolutely no experience in quilting and very little experience with sewing. Huzzzaaah! It was an ambitious plan. Some might have said foolhardy but I laugh with such people and proceed nonetheless. I do believe though that when it comes to some things, if there’s enough love involved, Providence provides the ways and means. For my birthday/Christmas that year, upon hearing this plan, my parents gave me a Husquvarna sewing machine. My mom showed me how to use it and gave me a bunch of quilting books on “extended loan.” M. and I decided upon the classic nine patch quilt block as the best place to start. Squares and straight seams are still my favorite pattern. Our plan was to put a white square in the center of each block with a photo of some of our group adventures and favorite places fused to the center. M and I bought fabric together, made 5” square templates out of corrugated cardboard and spent months cutting fabric squares like crazy. I remember feeling like a super sneaky person by getting T.s opinion on several fabrics prior to purchase. I don’t believe she knew the quilt we were making was for her; at least she seemed surprised when we gave it to her. Being the people we are we decided super scrappy was the way to go. I think the quilt has a lot of life, color, and joy as a result.
Ultimately we sewed a queen size quilt. We shanghaied our moms into helping us sew quilt blocks as the deadline approached. The week before T graduated became a frenzied sewing week. We worked round the clock sewing blocks into strips and fusing photos. My mom came up with her sewing machine and we set up both machines in a hotel room to double-team the quilting process (we kept it simple with stitch in the ditch). Then the three of us, Mom, M. and I all gathered round a card table to hand tie the layers and tack down each fused photo by hand. We were determined that the quilt be as indestructible as a quilt can be. It was as much work as it sounds like but it was also incredibly fun. My patient father went out and got us food and water as needed as we worked. I still think of Fazoli’s pasta when I look at some of those cottons.
Making that quilt drew M. and me closer together; in fact it was our great project of that year. I grew closer to my mom and M. and I both now have a better understanding of what went in to the homemade things given to us by the women in our lives. As will become obvious over the course of this blog, that quilt opened up a whole new hobby for me which I have pursued and continue to pursue with enthusiasm. Constructing that quilt crystallized what was special about T. and our experiences together. It was a metaphorical love-letter to her, to M. & me, to all of us, and to the wonderful years we had together in what I think is arguably the most beautiful place in the world: Marquette, Michigan. We’re all still very close friends even if time and distance have changed the exact nature of our friendship. Some friendships can be forever. It is my understanding that T. still uses the quilt we made her. I know as we made the quilt that M. and I agreed that wherever she went, whatever she did, we wanted to know that T. was warm. The quilt was our solution. There is as much love and prayer as there is batting, cotton cloth, and thread in the quilt. Being beginners M. and I bought way too much fabric which I have since gone on to use in other projects for both of us as well as other friends. I plan to post pictures as time and the ability to find those pictures present themselves.
Sometimes I like to imagine that when I’m looking down at a piece of fabric which I know I used in each project that wherever they are, whatever they are doing or feeling, M. & T. and I are all looking down at that same piece of fabric cut from the same cloth. And in that infinitesimal moment we are together again, looking at the lake or sharing a laugh or a hug, like nothing ever changed. It makes me smile every time.