Posted in Life Lessons, Sewing Projects

Revisiting the Quilt

I found myself stitching together pieces of fabric while chunks of my heart were losing their grip on one another. My very first quilt started out of necessity. I needed something to focus on, to provide creative release in an acceptable way for my disapproving husband.

At 23, I dodged criticism and avoided conflict with the skills of a mediator armed only with a bachelors degree in education with ink that wasn’t quite dry and hope that I’d get through it. I was newly married and logging hours of persistence in becoming a “good wife” to a husband who would never be satisfied with me. When I saw myself reflected in his eyes, I was frivolous, misguided and inferior. The job I acquired after leaving the Capitol Hill office in which we worked together was ridiculous to him. There was no reason I should enjoy my work so much. In reality, I enjoyed my 10 hours a day away from his control even if it made him uneasy. The meals I cooked were disgusting, even after I eliminated or blended away any evidence of onions, mushrooms, and anything green, per his requirements. While his only descriptions of me were “outgoing and fun,” he preferred to spend his evenings glued to his Playstation without giving me a second thought.

So {after I took personal responsibility for disposing of the box of leftover champagne from our wedding} I bought a sewing machine. It seemed like a traditional, wifely purchase to make, so I suspected I wouldn’t be met with an argument. I just needed my own escape, and I’ve always been a maker, a doer, a creator. And since I wasn’t having much luck at creating a happy marriage, I thought I’d try fabric instead.

My sewing hobby is not new. I remember soaking up technique and inspiration from my mom as a child and I loved the sewing unit in home ec class. I didn’t do much of my own sewing until I purchased my first sewing machine as an adult.

I’d spend time on my own at the fabric store examining peaceful color combinations and patterns. We lived in a one-bedroom apartment, so I set up shop in a corner of our bedroom. My distraction took the form of industry. I could cut, press, stitch away the hours between my work days without feeling like an utter failure.


As things fell further into disrepair in my relationship, it was at my sewing machine that I listened to my husband tell his friends and family by phone all of the things that were wrong with me; I sewed another quilt block. As he dissected all of the reasons why no one else would ever want me; I cut some more fabric pieces. On one side of that thin glass window, I wasn’t even close to enough. On my side, I was constructing something. More than a blanket, it was my sanity, a reminder I was real and that the moment was truly happening. Seeing my hands work while my heart broke empowered me with the knowledge that there were some parts of me that he couldn’t touch.

I wasn’t empowered enough to change my circumstances, though. I didn’t fight, opting instead to file away all of my pain and wait for him to make the changes. But things changed. He left. I stopped sewing.

Ten years later I still love to sew, and since quilts have a special place in my history, I’m returning to them. I’ve long-dreamed of owning my own business, and I’m reconnecting with the quilt to get me there. Each time I sew a seam, I’m reminded of the determination I built to shield myself from pain years ago. Now, though, I’m building something for myself going through the same motions. When I look back, I want to say that my first quilt paved the way for my new life. That process gave me sewing and life skills that I will never take for granted; they were hard-learned and hard-earned by me alone.

Things have changed. The quilt didn’t, though. It still sits unfinished in my closet, but it’s made every move and transition with me through the past decade. Maybe it’s time to give that one the time and energy of completion. Just so I can sit back an look at it and how far we’ve come together.

Here’s another lovely post on quilts from


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s