For the first time, I took a quilt top I had made to someone
else to be quilted on a long armed quilting machine. It was a queen-sized top; I have
made one king-sized and two queen-sized quilts before, and this time decided that I simply
did not have it in me to quilt it on my own machine. It was like trying to push an elephant
through a keyhole. I paid for my efforts dearly in back, shoulder, and neck pain that lasted
long after the quilts had gone to their respective recipients.
But oh, the agony of making that decision. First, I had to
get past the idea that if I didn’t quilt it, it’s not my quilt. Having jumped that
hurdle, I next had to convince myself that the top was “good enough” to ask to someone
else to quilt. In other words, were the seams straight and correctly pressed all in the
same direction, points sharp as arrows, corners matching squarely? Had I clipped all
the loose threads? Did I get the top squared off to a fare thee well? Would she silently
smirk at those inevitable imperfections that she noticed as she was quilting it?
The day came when I decided it must be done. I had carefully
pressed both the quilt top and the backing I had chosen. Wrestling each of them on the
ironing board in a vain attempt to get rid of any wrinkles, brought home to me again the
reason I was taking them to a long armed machine owner to be joined together with batting
to make a quilt.
I arrived at her home and gently carried my quilt top and
backing into her garage, where her machine was set up on a platform, rather like an
altar. I felt a sense of awe as I approached it timidly. On it was stretched a quilt
which I recognized as having been made by the most renowned quilter in the area.
I happened to glance down at the part that was rolled up, waiting to be quilted.
What? Could it be? There was a loose thread dangling and what's more, the seam it
was attached to was pressed first one way and then another! I immediately felt better.
Maybe my quilt top would pass muster after all! I decided that those who machine quilt
professionally for others must be as priestesses of a noble faith: they know the inadequacies
of the faithful, but are sworn to secrecy.
Still, as I left after making the arrangements and decisions
necessary for her to quilt my quilt top, I felt like I was sending my child into the
world, alone. Kind of like the first day my son went off to kindergarten.
Know what I mean?
Quilting: challenges the mind,
nurtures the soul,
stimulates the brain, and
warms the heart.
©2004 Patricia Littlefield