Tag Archives: quilt

Pieces of Us

21 Dec

Making a Quilt for My BFF (Part Two)

My 17th birthday. Jen shared in my excitement over my OWN cordless phone.

Selection, cutting, piecing and assembly. These are the four main phases in the fabrication of a quilt. Or a friendship. Over the long course of each, great care (and luck) with the first two phases affect the rest.

These pairs of strips were cut to form the smallest "stair" blocks of the pattern.

I’m always reassured when I still love my chosen fabrics throughout and beyond the tedious process of working with them. Some become favorites, like the most cherished characteristics of a longtime friend. Others serve to bring harmony and balance–in color, pattern and scale. I like a mix of each.

For this quilt, my fabric selection included red as base (and backing). This is the primary color of both the elementary/middle and high schools to which my friend Jennifer and I attended together, which despite such extended exposure, remains the dominant hue in both of our home interior color schemes. The shimmered gold sun fabric was an exciting find, which I opted to employ as the “stairs” in the pattern. It reminds me of our coinciding faith in a saving God, who has always been and remains our ultimate shared fire escape.

A quilter's tools: rotary mat, cutter and edged ruler.

Precise cutting is critical. As I plodded through this repetitive phase with my handy-dandy quilting tools, the numbered inches on my rotary mat took me back to well-grooved positions in the timeline of my and Jen’s lives.

  • 2: We, the inseparable pair in high school. Two siblings in each of our families. Our marriages. We each have two kids.
  • 6-1/2: The age we first knew each other. Carvel ice cream parties. Our well-loved first-grade teacher, Miss Highland.
  • 12-1/2: Middle school drama. Bible confirmation. Our well-loved eighth-grade teacher, Mrs. Marsh, who taught us both how to write.
  • 18-1/2: College roomies first semester. Jen made me a neat-freak. We part ways to attend different schools.
  • 26: Jen has her first son, and I become a godmother. We’ll switch roles two years later.

The piecing stage takes the longest, although in my opinion, it’s the easiest. If you’ve cut right, sewing pieces together is pretty straightforward. If you watch this video, you’ll get the picture of how it goes. And goes.

Iron out the wrinkles and lay seams flat as you go along.

Right sides together, always.

As with any sewing, most everything in a quilt happens behind the seams. The pretty fronts that the world sees are placed together, face to face, and pinned at intervals along straight edges.

So, too, of a deep friendship. The real action takes place over hundreds of points of connection–those humorous, awkward, painful, inspiring stories behind the stories–conversations and confidences known only to you.

Preparing for the final seam, joining together the two sides.

For ease of sewing my 10 pieced columns, I decided to first attach the lengths within the two groups of five before combining the resulting two big pieces. I realized, in doing so, one more eloquent attribute of this pattern. The quilt can be divided in half, with the vertical patterns of the left repeating, though in opposite order, on the right.

I smiled again at the fortuitous symbolism. Jen and I: two halves of one enduring friendship.

Look for The Big Reveal next week in Part Three.

See also Who’s Your Fire Escape? (Part One).

Who’s Your Fire Escape?

17 Dec

Making a Quilt for My BFF (Part One)

This month, the Chicks and I have been mulling over Chapter 8 of Julia Cameron’s Walking in This World. It’s all about what Julia calls Discernment, that is, learning to “name our true supporters more accurately.” The task: Make Something for Someone Else, Not to Be Somebody.

Jennifer and I have been having "Field Days" for as long as we've known each other.

In truth, I bought the material for a new quilt months ago and have wanted to make it for much longer. Maybe since I was in first grade. That’s when I first met my friend, Jennifer, although I wouldn’t know for another decade that we were destined to be BFFs.

For thirty years, Jennifer has been my fire escape. And I think I've been hers, too.

When I picked out the pattern for the quilt I wanted to make Jennifer, I saw the word fire and thought I might name it something like “The Flames of Friendship”. But when my tweenage daughter, who’s much more observant than I, looked at the pattern picture last week and said “Oh, I get it. The little squares are like stairs,” I looked more closely at the name: FIRE ESCAPE. Huh. I didn’t get that before. At any rate, I decided it was the perfect (what else?) metaphor for our friendship.

My 16th birthday at Medieval Times.

Although sharing so many similar experiences together at St. Mark’s Lutheran School in Hollywood, Florida (tragically closed just last year), we didn’t grow especially close until high school. I was the loud and outgoing one. She was the quiet and disciplined one. But as we faced the daunting perils of pre-adulthood, our differences became complements. Our strengths and weaknesses fit together, like well-cut pieces of fabric.

My last quilt, made with love in 2009, was for my mom.

This will be my fourth quilt. Wanting to give something special to my sister, niece and mom were my motivations before. My favorite part of making a quilt is the stream of brainless mental wanderings that occur over the hours of cutting, pinning, sewing and ironing. It’s impossible to put so much into a gift without thinking fondly of its future recipient.

Good friends meet equally, at right angles.

Right Angles: One of my ethereal epiphanies came as I was cutting. We all have so many people we call friends, don’t we? The onset of Facebook and other social media has further eroded the term, which used to be a step above mere acquaintance. Perhaps the litmus test is this: is your friendship cut at right angles? Some relationships just aren’t. One person gives more than the other, making them (wait for it)–obtuse.

Before I became one of the 4 Chicks, I was the "co-owner" of a cutting-edge fashion enterprise. We paid for these labels with babysitting money.

But the fundamental starting point of any quilt is right angles. Meeting equally at a point. Over and over and over. That’s the first step of a friendship, too. More about both to come.

See also: Pieces of Us (Part Two) and What’s Your Block? (Part Three).

%d bloggers like this: