Quilting has been an American past time for centuries. Born out of necessity, it has evolved into a true art form. It takes time and dedication. Practice is an essential part of quilting. Like other art forms, it is a process. One that takes years to prefect, if perfection is even possible. Quilters are constantly learning new techniques and pushing their art into new areas. Unlike many art forms, quilting is easily accessible to all who want to learn. The basic materials for traditional quilting are thread, needles, fabric, scissors, and batting. There are millions of gadgets and gizmo’s you can buy, but those are all that is necessary to learn.
After more than a decade of experience, I have found certain quilting lessons are just as relevant to life in general.
Measure twice, cut once. Every quilter has had the experience of rushing to finish a project and cutting the fabric wrong. It is so frustrating to have to re-cut, wasting fabric along the way. Double check your facts. Before you make that first cut, check the directions and check your ruler. Then check it again. In life we make decisions on the fly. Not always looking at both sides of an issue. We make snap judgments before having all the information. Take the time to think it through. Seek out the relevant information before coming to an answer.
Sometimes the needle breaks. Even with proper planning, mistakes occur. How you deal with those mistakes is what counts. Anger only makes it worse. Keep a level head and acknowledge it for what it is, a mistake. The sooner you let it go the better off everyone will be.
It’s the details that count. We spend a lot of time thinking about the finished quilt. To get that quilt we have to plan it out. Pick the pattern, the fabric and thread. You must consider how it will be quilted and bound. We have to decide on what special details will bring out the best in the quilt. Life is the same way. If we want a happy family, then we have to plan for it. Make time for the kids. Read books together, play a game, go on vacation together. These little details are what makes a life.
If you are short on cash, use the scraps. Originally, quilts were made to actually keep the family warm. They were made from flour sacks and scraps of clothing. Hence the name scrap quilts. Ages ago people didn’t go to the store to find that perfect shade of yellow. Money was tight. Buying new fabric for a certain color would have been considered wasteful. Especially when you had fabric at home. Use what you have. In today’s economy we need to save more than we spend. Before you decide on buying something new, try to re-purpose something you already have. Come up with a creative solution that doesn’t require throwing something old out, to buy something new. It also helps our environment. Less waste in the landfill is a good thing.
Fabric is very forgiving. There have been more times than I can count when my points didn’t meet, or my fabric ended up lumpy. Somehow, it all gets quilted out. Fabric is very forgiving in that way. It can be manipulated in order to fix mistakes. People are not that forgiving. We tend to spend valuable energy holding grudges and getting even. Life is too short. In the end, will it matter? Or, will you regret that you never gave forgiveness for a wrong committed against you? We have all been hurt, but to truly move on, we must learn to forgive.
Only God is perfect. “Humility” blocks are legendary in the quilt world. Blocks put into a quilt, that shows a mistake, in order to show Gods perfection. Some say “Humility” blocks are a myth. I disagree. The fact is, we all make mistakes. Not a single one of us is perfect. This is a most valuable lesson to learn. It is so easy to pick out someone else’s mistakes. Yet, all the while forgetting our own shortcomings. The truth is only God is perfect.
Quilting, like life, is a learning process. We learn as we go to be kind to one another, to do our best, and to pay attention to detail. If we are lucky we will also learn to forgive and to save. We can all stand to have more humility. These ideas might seem a little old fashioned, but they greatly enrich our lives.