It’s 2:30am and I am still awake. I guess I’m just excited to see my students’ quilts in 12 hours. It has always been like this every time they graduate from my quilting class. In the three years I’ve been teaching patchwork and quilting, this part has been the most exciting.
In a year, I have a new class every quarter and I always come up with new designs for my students to choose from for their quilts. Usually, when a student enrolls in a class, her first reaction would be, “I can’t do this, it’s too complicated!” The beauty of the fabrics being pieced together would just overwhelm some and they wonder if they could ever sew such a magnificent piece of artwork. I have some enrollees who would get goosebumps just by looking at each patched and applique’d tops I have made for the last 8 to 9 years.
But what is a quilt really? This is my simple, straightforward question every graduation day as they come up to show and tell their finished quilt. Surprisingly, each response was unique: “To me, a quilt is sleepless nights… any piece that has been constructed by putting a lot of pieces together…made with love…with someone in mind…more than a stuffed thing, it’s your mama hugging you… A gift of time and thought and planning…fabric arranged to please an audience…something that keeps you warm at night… A wall hanging…a blanket…it’s pieced, has batting and a lining…bedcovering…comfort…meeting new friends…story of my life…the definitions are endless!
My definition of a quilt is a combination of all these responses and it is conveyed in each of the projects with a story. Every project I see is the result of one’s planning, making and finishing an idea. They didn’t just enjoy one part of it, but it’s in the process of making it. I admire their tenacity and “stick-to-itiveness”. Sometimes, I’m amazed at how they have grown as designers too.
We are all quilters here and we do it for different reasons. Some of us want to try every color combination under the sun. The geometry of piecing patterns together or the painting-like effects of appliqué fascinate most of us. Others can’t resist a floral pattern. I have a hard time resisting heart motifs myself. We are all at different stages of accomplishment. I know one student quilter who is always learning a new technique, wanting to master as many as possible.
A needle is a natural extension of a quilter’s fingers and this is our personal challenge. It is good therapy, a relaxing way to collect our thoughts. Sometimes it is also a way of dealing with feelings constructively and in an entertaining way. Oftentimes, it’s an extension of aggressive outpouring of emotions: pain, anger and frustrations.
I doubt if we’ll ever ran out of ideas or reasons to make quilts. It’s such a unique way to show our love for someone. There’s always the potential for wedding and milestone anniversaries to commemorate with quilts. Every kid needs a quilt to cuddle. It is the best way to express ourselves.
Quilters, if I may say, are the greatest of all people. If they’re tired of war, murder, drugs on TV or they just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of life, they drop everything and refresh themselves in a quilting bee or meeting. There they are, young and old, tall and short, fat or skinny, rich or poor, talented and ordinary- all sharing a common love. When show-and-tell comes, the applause is loud and supportive. These are loving, kind, neat people. These are my quilting students!