I like it when I wake up and a song speaks to my heart or in this case speaks to the “should’ve” part of life. Should’ve done this, should’ve used that color, should’ve figured something else out, should’ve asked for help, should’ve been more respectful of the bias, should’ve whatever. Shoulda, woulda, coulda knock us down in ways that are difficult at best. They can teach us a lot but often what’s associated is a deep sense of guilt that does us no good. When we can stand back and reflect often we can develop a deep sense of appreciation for the situation. Sometimes not.
I have a feeling somewhere up in the photo archive I have a photo of my first quilt. As with every quilt there’s a story: the quilt was a gift to welcome a baby into the world. He’s gotta be about 20, 21 or so now. Okay I don’t really want the quilt back, it was a gift given with love. The quilt taught me a lot. I remember lots of lessons. And, while it had a lot of “issues” I’m really proud of it. More to the point, while I know all of its flaws and will happily point them out there is something more important – I made a quilt.
I made that first quilt.
When I tell the story of this first quilt I’ll share all the flaws and struggles with this quilt (depending on the crowd) because I am taking the time to share a couple of things 1) it was the first quilt I ever made and 2) it’s important for newer quilters to know that our first quilts are just that, first quilts, that are often fraught with troubles. We’re just learning how to use a rotary cutter or we’re making templates for the first time. And we’re learning how to get a good quarter inch (which, by the way can elude us for years). Our quilting stitches are often uneven whether by hand or machine. We may not have enough quilting, as in my case. We may have chosen fabrics that are too loosely woven to last long, oh I did that. We may wear needles to the point of bending or breaking, been there done that. Because the needle was worn the batting started pulling through one of the fabrics. Yeah, that.
One of the best words of advice by my first machine quilting teacher is to say, “Look what I did!” and not point out the flaws. She went on to explain that most people won’t notice (they don’t), if they do they won’t be rude enough to say anything about it (for the most part they don’t) and if they do say something it’s on them, not you. I tell every student I have this. I notice a lot of things in quilts. It’s actually one of the things that allowed me to start entering quilts in shows, if these amazing, award worthy quilts had flaws in them then I stood a chance.
When I had troubles (and I still do sometimes) I asked guild members and got some good solutions. When I had eye-lashing on the backs of my quilts Mary Anne shared with me about hand and machine speed and that slowing down a bit would make a huge difference. It did. I learned how to fix most tension troubles in that first class and added a lot of personal info by not being afraid to experiment.
As people of faith there are things we can learn at any point in our journey of faith and of quilting. In my view one of the most important lessons is kindness to ourselves along the way. This leads to kindness towards others, a generosity of spirit that is quite forgiving and loving. Being forgiving and loving towards ourselves and others allows us to make mistakes and own them if we need to but also let them go as we need to. We may notice what we perceive to be flaws in others and let kindness take over and rule our heart extending mercy and grace.
When we show our quilts let’s do take that time to say, “look what I did!” rather than pointing out out flaws. Let’s learn to see the good in ourselves and our quilts whether it’s our first steps and stitches or it’s our latest creation and part of our journey.