Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sew Perfect

I finally attempted my first quilt. :)  My friend just recently had a little girl so I pretty much made my mind up I would make a baby quilt.  And finish it.  This is key. 

Quilts have always intimidated me.  But ever since I went to Quilt Festival, I have been enamored with quilts and the idea that I will start making quilts and then one day become America's Next Top Quilter.  Then, I will write a book titled I'm Bringin' Quilting Back: Them Other Quilters Don't Know How to Quilt and be featured on Martha Stewart where I will start a quilting revolution that will spark a quilt-making frenzy across the nation and then, ultimately, around the world.  But, first things first....

Every time I go to Seattle, I pretty much flip when I see Amy Butler fabrics in a regular fabric store. Seattle fabric stores make sewing seem so much more hip than a Hancock fabric store here.  And they actually carry designers I recognize and usually just gawk at online during my lunch break.  Since I've got a good fabric stash going, I told myself I couldn't buy any fabric unless I knew exactly what I was going to do with it.  When I saw AB's Camel/Full Moon Polka Dot for the first time in person, I knew it was going to be the fabric that I would use to start building my ANTQ resume.

I love it.  It's not a quilt in the traditional sense.  But that's why I love it even more.  It's a lovely, simple, modern quilt.  I followed this tutorial, but I did cheat a bit.  I am a horrible blind stitch-er.  I don't have the patience for hand stitching.  I am a perfectionist and I much prefer the perfect stitch of a machine over my crooked ill-spaced stitches.  So I asked my mom to blind stitch it for me.  I told her to take her time.  I wanted it to be perfect.  When she took it home, my grandma decided she wanted to do it for me.  And that makes me so happy to type that. 

My grandmother has been sewing since she got married at 14.  She's now 84.  She was really just a kid when she got married.  My grandfather was always gone, so she says she would just be at home waiting.  She said one day her mother-in-law took pity on her and sat her down and taught her how to sew.  And she was hooked.  And she couldn't stop.  She says she sewed every day after that.  She would eventually become sort of the seamstress for the town.  She never made much money doing it.  People came by and promised to pay her next time but never could quite pay.  They'd offer her food as a barter.  They'd run errands for her if they were short.  When people asked "how much?" she'd often times say, "Just whatever you can pay" and take what they gave her.  One time a lady stopped by while I was visiting and my grandmother took $4 for altering 4 shirts.  When her customer left, I said, "Grandma, you need to ask for more money!  Four dollars isn't enough!  She's taking advantage of you!"  She just said, "Mija, I can't ask her for more than she can give.  It's so nice to just sit and visit.  I don't need much.  Besides, I enjoy doing it."

Two years ago, she had to leave her home and her hometown of 50+ years because she needed someone to care for her full time.  Naturally there will be an adjustment period, but the part that worried all of us was that she quit sewing.  She's had glaucoma for years and that never stopped her.  But, when my mom brought home my quilt to sew, my grandma looked at it and said, "Well, I guess you better get me my thimble."  And she started sewing.  My mom said she told my grandma she didn't have to finish it in one night.  But my grandma kept on sewing.  And she sewed until she finished it.  And my aunts, my mom and I all cried.  And I cried again when I saw all her little stitches this morning.  If you look at them closely, they aren't all perfect.  But yet they are. 

I talked to her last night to thank her for working on it.  She said, "Well, when are you going to make another one?  I need more work."  And then I cried again.

{My Grandma, taken with my mom's camera phone}
I have yet to meet the little girl who will be receiving this quilt, but I already need to thank her for what's she's done for my grandma in the short time she's been here.  Her name is Farhana.  In Arabic, it means happy or happiness.  What a perfect name. 


Allison said...

Could not love this more. What a fantastic story. It brought tears to my eyes!!! There's something so wonderful about the generational aspect of sewing. Not to mention that I seriously love the quilt. Great job!!!! Have you started planning the next one? :)

Seester said...

That made me cry!

Sarah said...

Aww. This made me so teary. It looks great! Love it, love it!

pintobean said...

You all are going to make me cry again!! Thanks, Ladies! Glad I could share the story with everyone. :)

Allison, I decided I am going to make a quilt for my bed. I *may* attempt a more traditional quilt...but we'll see. :D I am inspired by your amazing quilt!!!

shpatel2 said...

I think your next project should be a wedding quilt... =)

Aradhana said...

So sweet to have such a grand mother. Lovely story.