Yesterday I was one of fifty, women and even a few brave men, that joined together to ‘Sew Many Quilts’ for the thousands of refugees that are moving to our city. Most of these refugees come from warm weather climates and will welcome the quilts when they get a taste of Syracuse winter. We gathered together to cut, design, sew, press and tie quilts today. A good old fashioned quilting bee.
At the end of the day we had finished 18 quilts and there were a few ‘take home kits’ available. I brought one home, the fabric already cut, colors matched and ready to be sewn together. A nine patch crib quilt top. I do not pretend to be a quilter. And I’m not a seamstress either. I have a sewing machine and I like to sew but I’ve never been very good. And I proved that to be true once again.
Yesterday I discovered that 1/4″ is very different from 3/8″. Just ask a quilter. That small difference, block after block, adds up. And when sewing in a group, with each person building on the next person’s work, let’s just say, my work created problems down the line. And this group was not hesitant to point out that I was making a mistake. That might sound harsh but it was actually very helpful. I didn’t know that my mistake would make it difficult for others. And by letting me know I was messing up I could stop creating more work for others and actually be helpful. Isn’t that what friends do for each other? And I discovered that quilters are forgiving. They taught me, corrected me and forgave my mistakes. They even trusted me with a ‘take home kit’. (Maybe that was one way of keeping all my mistakes in one place.)
Today I set up my table and sewing machine at home. I was careful to keep my seams at 1/4″ and finished the quilt top by myself. Only “unsewing” 2 blocks. I pressed it, laid it out and admired the creation, a beautiful patchwork of squares. Complete but not satisfied.
Today I was sewing quilts. Yesterday I was building relationships. While tying, snacking and sewing I had met Mary Lou, Joy, Kathleen, Alex and Ti Yuhn. I laughed with Sandy, Lisa, Alison and Sybil throughout the morning. And learned not only about quilting but about friendship from Doris, Barbara and Kristen.
When I was young my grandmother would tell stories of the quilting bees that she would attend on a regular basis. I admired and eventually inherited a few of those precious heirloom quilts she made at those bees. I think I discovered why she spoke of those times so fondly. Yes, she was sewing, but more than that she was building. Building into relationships with her family and friends.
Sew Many Quilts will meet again in two weeks, making more quilts for refugees and at the same time building friendships with all who participate.
Come build something with us.
Sew Many Quilts