Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Life Lessons from Making My First Quilt

Awhile back, while using the sewing machine at my parent's house, I'd made a comment about how I don't often sew because the sewing machine that I had was VERY old (either my grandmother or great-grandmother's) and in need of a tune up. Even just putting it together felt overwhelming, and I just wanted to be able to buy a new one that would come with instruction manuals, and probably You Tube videos.

Well, over the weekend, a sewing machine showed up on my doorstep. My dad said he found a great one on sale, and my dad is just that type of person who when he sees a need or a want that he can fill, he just does it. And I'm so thankful!

I scoured Pinterest, determined to find a project or two that I could whip out, and I kept being drawn to quilts. I love quilts, and I'd really always wished that I could make them. So, being that Justin was out of town for work again, I decided it would be a great time to try and make a quilt...I find that when he's out of town, it is crucial that I have something that I'm excited about to look forward to in the evenings and during nap times (ha).

I made a plan. I read the tips. I decided to make a whole-cloth quilt because they're fast and easy. I bought some clearance fabric. It was going to be fun! And easy!

HA.

HA. HA.

HA. HA. HA.

I don't know why in the world I thought that a novice sewer like myself could make a quilt like it ain't no thang. 'Cause let me tell you this: it's a thang.

It's a LOT of thangs. I was in way, way, way over my head.
Quilt-1
Quilt-2
Nothing was going right. I wasn't sewing in straight lines. The bobbin kept getting all funky. The fabric was puckering. At one point, I somehow sewed the fabric that I had left over to bind the quilt INSIDE the other layers of the quilt. At another point, while I was in the living room with Becca, Lizzy snuck into the room that I was sewing in and cut a chunk out of her hair.
Quilt-3
It was definitely not Pinterest worthy. It was a mess. And at that point, I found myself having to make a decision about whether or not I wanted to continue spending time making something that I knew full well was not going to turn out the way that I'd hoped and planned. I had to make a decision about whether or not I could find beauty in something that wasn't even in the ball field of being perfectly done. Now, I'm not the type of person who can turn any old every day occurrence into a philosophical discussion, but for some reason, that moment of deciding whether or not to keep making the quilt hit me kind of hard.
 
See, when Lizzy and I have school time, I often find myself telling her, 'It isn't important to do everything perfectly, it's only important to try your best.'And oh, do I believe that wholeheartedly when I'm telling her. But is that same level of grace applied in my own life?

In a word? No. I like to do things well. And if I don't do them well, as a rule, I don't enjoy them and I just don't do them. The end. If I'm not good at it, I don't want to play. I'm not the type of person who does things just for fun--I want to win, always.

{Most of the time though, I am the only one who knows there's a competition}

But for some reason, I decided to keep going and just see how it turned out. So, I kept sewing. And I kept messing up. And swearing to myself like a sailor. If you asked me to estimate how many of the lines were sewn straight, I wouldn't even have to estimate...I know: exactly zero. But eventually, I had sewn the last seam of what sort of resembled a very crooked, semi-rectangular quilt. I mean, it would probably make half of the ridiculously talented ladies at church cringe if they knew that I was calling this a quilt. It's wonky, really. But it's a piece of fabric that is quilted, so I'm going with it. 
Quilt-7
I popped it in the wash, and when it came out, Lizzy said, "Mama, that quilt is so beautiful! Can I snuggle with it for awhile?!"

"Sure sweet girl," I said.

"Thank you! I am so excited! I just love it so much!" she exclaimed.
Quilt-8 Quilt-4 Quilt-5 Quilt-11

She doesn't see what I see. She sees a blanket, that her mama made, and let her use first. She sees softness and warmth, and something to snuggle into at the end of the day. She sees beauty where I see imperfection. And I couldn't help but feel like this was a gift. A reminder. That it isn't about perfection. Not even a little bit. Not even at all. And you know what? I'm starting to love the quilt too.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ's power may rest on me. 
~2 Corinthians 12:9 

11 comments:

  1. This is awesome! And such a good lesson for mamas!

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  2. Great job on seeing it through! We've all gotta start somewhere right? I totally get you on the whole - it's all a competition, but I'm the only one that knows it. Story of my life.

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  3. Beautiful! You have me tearing up over here. To Lizzy that's probably the most beautiful quilt she has ever seen.

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  4. Such a great post- and you know, you're never going to hang it on the wall, so who cares if it's not perfect? Lizzy and Becca (and you!) are going to snuggle up with it, it will keep them warm on cold days, and those girls can proudly say "my mama made this" And isn't that the only thing that matters? They'll probably drag it around until it's in tatters anyway. And now you've gotten to know your machine and practice with it- I'm pretty certain you will only get better with sewing!! Practice makes perfect (and those ladies at church have been practicing A LONG time to make their quilts so perfect) so keep on sewing :)

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  5. Thank you for this beautiful reminder. From a fellow perfectionist.

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  6. We are always harder on ourselves than anybody else. I think it is so cute and I like the non-straight lines. It's funny how God decides to teach us lessons. It will probably be ea favorited blanket by your children.

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  7. I read a post similar to this a few months ago about how our kids see our bodies. That to them, we are beautiful and they don't know otherwise until they hear us saying so. It really made me stop and think and I'm very careful about what I say about my body now. I'm even learning to accept Isaac's remarks of "I love your squishy belly, mama" as a compliment, because that is truly how he means it. For him, it really is a good thing - it's soft and comfortable and probably most importantly, it's part of *me*.

    Love this post, Meredith. As always, you have a way with words.

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  8. Simply beautiful, all of it :)

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  9. It looks beautiful to me! And even more beautiful that it's beautiful to your sweet, innocent, daughter!

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  10. This is beautiful, Mere. If we could only see the world through a child's perspective... wouldn't life be so much easier?!

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  11. How did I end up crying?? Good stuff.

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