by Kathryn Greenwold
My husband and I just returned home from our daughter’s wedding. In early June, Lynn and her family attended her sister’s wedding. As our families celebrated these two unions I began to think about how our quilts are often a “marriage” of the traditional with something new.
It has always amazed me that antique quilts were made in spare time, after all the chores were done and the family fed, often by candle or gaslight. I learned to hand piece and hand quilt as a child. However, my grandmother used her sewing machine to set blocks together. She saw the value of tradition, but used the machine to complete her top more efficiently. It seems that whenever women had access to a new tool or a better way of completing a task they took advantage of it.
We now cut the pieces for traditional blocks with a rotary cutter and machine sew them. Our appliqué patterns may be needle turned, but they also might be fused in place and machine sewn. We have many rulers, squares, templates, quick piecing techniques to ease our work, and we have bright lights to illuminate what it is we are working on.
A recent development in the quilting world that I am drawn to is the Slow Stitch Movement. Slow Stitch does not mean a return to the “old ways.” Rather it encourages us to plan our quilts, to have a purpose, and to be mindful of the process of making each piece. It is heartening to see that we have gone full circle in many ways. My grandmother made quilts because they were needed for warmth (her purpose), but she loved the process of making something that was beautiful. Our stash should not be ever growing, but used. We need to work with materials we love, patronize our local quilt shops, enjoy the process of making our quilts, build friendships within the quilting community, and lovingly use our quilts or gladly give them away.
Which brings me back to marriage. A marriage is entered into through love and devotion. It takes hard work to keep the marriage strong. The result of this work is that the love and friendship grow deeper and purpose is found in a life together. Make your quilts lovingly so that they can be as strong and beautiful as a good marriage.