I just sew

Every quilt I complete and give away annoys her. “When do I get mine?” she asks in that tone that already knows the answer. “I just haven’t found the right pattern.” I just haven’t found the right colors.” I just haven’t found the right inspiration.” I can’t use time as an excuse because I figure out ways to churn them out for other people. She just rolls her eyes. When I visit she is even more direct. She points to the back of the sofa. “See this empty spot? That is where the quilt goes.” “I know, I know,” I say.

Her badgering is justified. She is my sister and closest friend. We have been part of each other’s daily life for over forty years. I have been making quilts for twenty of those. If anyone should have a handmade token of love, it should be her. But I have never been able to get started.

I love quilting for a million reasons. I deconstruct and reconstruct, fitting shapes in complex arrangements, aligning the edges in perfect points and connections. Quilts are utilitarian, beautiful but ready to work. Pieces form a sturdy whole, surprisingly durable for all the intricacies of fabric and stitching. Mostly I love giving the end product to someone who has just had a baby or other milestone. It marks and wraps the event, providing warmth to both body and memory.

My sister would appreciate anything I made for her. I could patch together twelve inch squares of burlap and she would “oooooo” and “aaahhhh” and then smiling mischievously, pronounce: “It is about time.” But I have always wanted to make her the perfect quilt – one that depicts all the tumult and majesty of her life. A Magnum Opus! A gift of all gifts! A quilt of all quilts! As often happens when one sets such expectations, I do nothing. The heavens have yet to open and spew magic triangles and thread and my sister has no quilt.

I was deleting random emails when I saw it. A yearlong class offered at the local quilt shop. I have no time for a class and certainly no time for a thirteen month commitment. But I was not thinking logically. I had just put my sister on a plane for the Democratic Republic of Congo for her third mission with Doctors Without Borders. Every time she leaves she signs a stack of papers that warn of death and mayhem. Every time she shrugs and tells me to send her lots of soap. Every time I think, what if something happens and I haven’t made her a quilt yet?

So I signed up for the class. I will be asked to make a block each month. After a year I will have a quilt. The teacher picks the blocks, the fabric and the arrangement. She will relieve me of all my excuses. I just sew. I sew and wait for the next class. I sew and wait for news from my sister.  

Perhaps it was the pattern that finally convinced me to begin. The quilt will be different variations on the Mariners Compass block, one of the most difficult to make. It has sharp points radiating from layers of wider points, leading the eye away and back to a tiny star in the center. A design to symbolize journeys and returns. I will layer the batting with its own magnetic force. My sister’s quilt will keep her going in the right direction, from true north to home again. She will say. “Finally.” 

3 responses to “I just sew”

  1. Tim says:

    Beautiful as always, Pandora! Thanks for this and all your writing here on TGW.

  2. J-Man says:

    Love this.

  3. lane says:

    HIGH everyone!