Okay, it didn’t start out life as a wall hanging. I mean, really, what does? But wall hangings have a way of creeping up on you.
More than any other craft, I find quilting causes a sort of bizarre need to reflect on each project, to find meaning. This doesn’t happen to me with pillows, or sweaters, or scarves, or socks. But for some reason, when I quilt… I want to find a deeper layer of purpose in each creation. I’m not sure why that is.
I began this project many years ago, when I was still married. I had just started quilting things, and as usual, I bit off way more than I could chew. I wanted to make a king-sized quilt for my marital bed. I had this insanely dumb desire to do this using a technique called “lap-quilting,” which is way better in theory than in practice. In theory, a lap-quilt is made in squares. Each square is pieced and quilted, then all the squares are sewn together after the quilting. This differs from a normal quilt in that a normal quilt is pieced, then the pieced sections are all sewn together into the top. Then batting and backing are added to make a giant sandwich, at which point the entire blanket is quilted.
So why lap-quilt? I just thought it would be more manageable. Unlike Amish ladies in the movies, I don’t have a giant quilt frame out on my front porch, nor do I have eight elderly neighbors willing to sit around all day with me, quilting and drinking homemade lemonade while we gossip about Amos and his wild hog-rearin’ techniques. I do not Bee, as in Quilting-Bee. Doing one small square and then attaching it to another square seemed smart.
It wasn’t. The problems with lap-quilting are many: there are too many seams, the back is ugly, one’s sewing and/or quilting “flow” is interrupted… mostly, it was just unattractive.
That wasn’t the only issue, though. I had managed, in my naivete, to pick the hardest possible pattern. Each square involved several steps. First, I had to cut all the small pieces of the “curve,” by hand. Then I had to piece them together in a curve, which is not precise or easy. Then I had to hem them. Then I had to applique them to the white square. Then I had to sew four small squares together to make a large square. Then I had to quilt each one. As usual in these early projects, I decided to quilt it as if I were using a machine rather than trying to push the needle through the fabric sandwich with my fingers.
I stopped at about 7 large squares. I had the material to make all 120 of them. That’s actually 480 small squares.
You see the problem. So I put the squares away. Years passed. Probably ten years. Then a few weeks ago, I was organizing my project stash and discovered the basket with this project in it. I laid out the squares I had done, three of which were sewn together. Huh, I thought. I have enough of these to make a small wall hanging. All I’d have to do was sew them together, finish quilting along the new seams, and then bind it off. One week later, I was done.
All it needs now is to be hung up above our door, using the little fabric “tabs” at the top (I intend to just nail ’em to the wall, as they are sewn on separately for that very purpose). I rearranged the squares several times in different configurations… a circle with surrounding ripples, twisty turns… until I decided on this one, of concentric paths.
It reminds me, of course, of my failed marriage. That’s should be a bad thing, I suppose, but I don’t mind. There are paths in my life that it was better to depart from. Being reminded of that isn’t necessarily negative. And of course, it’s an object lesson in understanding a project’s depth and difficulty before one begins (or at least before one buys $300 in “vintage” 40’s-era prints!). Mostly, I think it’s just fun and colorful.
Note the large stitches in the thick applique (which I should never have attempted to quilt in the first place), versus the small stitches in the plain white background. Another lesson learned. Why are quilt projects so meaningful? Who knows, but each one has a story and if I can’t Bee, I can at least jaw about it. How’s that for olde words?