piecing it together

Unfinished Windmill Quilt

I’ve started a new sewing project. I’m using up the material I used for my niece’s play quilt earlier this year, by making a new quilt. My mother-in-law sews a lot, and I’ve watched her so often sitting with the small scraps of fabric in her lap, sewing the tiny stitches. Last time, she showed me the stitches she used, let me photocopy some of her patterns, and I’m keeping her in mind as I start.

I love the feeling of learning something new, of skills and techniques being passed down to me. My mum has a quilt of tiny¬†hexagons¬†at home, unfinished for many years since two girls and her own business can along and took away all her free time. She used to get it out to show us, spread it out across my parents bed, and we’d ohh and aah as she told us the stories of each scrap. This one from the dress I wore then, this is from your dad’s old shirt. And tell us stories of sitting in accountancy lectures, in her male-dominated class, sewing away. I have always loved that image, it so perfectly encompasses how I think of her – the staunch feminist not afraid to be fully a woman in a man’s world.

The thing I am discovering about hand piecing a quilt is that it is a slow process. It requires patience. I’ve worked on it during the evenings, watching Ted talks or episodes of The Big Bang Theory as I painstakingly sew the invisible stitches to join my little scraps of owls and dots and whales together. It’s roughly a square foot now. It could make a perfect teatowel. Not much use just yet, but I keep going, sewing a few more patches each time, cutting more fabric, pinning more paper templates, threading the needle over and over again, pinning myself a few more times that I care to admit…

The last week, Rachel Held Evans has been running a “Week of Mutuality” on her fantastic blog. I have soaked up every word, waiting impatiently each day for her American morning-timed posts to arrive around lunchtime here. The words have been balm to a soul scarred by many “can’ts and “don’ts” over the years. They have calmed an anxious mind that felt the truth in every part of my being but didn’t always have the words to fight my corner.

They have given me permission to go on being and becoming exactly who I was created to be, no boundaries, no limits because of my gender. I can be me, fully and completely me. I can start a business, bake a cake, lead a church service, create a marriage that works for us.

I can piece together a life that is beautiful, useful, complete – one scrap at a time.