I made a quilt last week! More accurately, I made a small-sized quilt, and it took me several weeks, as I worked on it in fits and bursts, at one point stopping for days due to having sewed the borders on all wrong and becoming sort of avoidant about making them right again. I was sewing it for a baby, however, who’s two days from her scheduled arrival, and there’s nothing better on this earth for my productivity than a hard deadline; I pulled my project back out of wherever I’d stashed it, undid the seams, and finished just in time.

I learned a few things about sewing from making this quilt. For one thing, proper tools are probably a more solid starting point than all-around improvisation, without any real tools at all (save for the trusty sewing machine itself). I went with improvisation, which shouldn't surprise you. I cut the squares from un-ironed fabric (pieces I’d pilfered from a scraps box outside a fantastic fabric store/craft factory here in Austin, Stitch Lab), without measuring, using kitchen scissors. I didn’t have any pins yet, either, so when I set about sewing I just topped one square on the next and got to it. Eyeballing the quilt into being this way wasn’t unsuccessful or anything, but it resulted in a few uneven lines, some bunching fabric, and other minor annoyances that could have been easily avoided, given proper planning. But shit, I’m not a planner, and the final product turned out to be kind of awesome for its intended purpose. No, it’s edges aren’t perfectly straight, but I did commit myself to the thing and pay attention to detail in a way I usually don’t (I am BIG picture-oriented, people. This was good for me!). It looks handmade. It looks perfect for bundling a baby, for getting spit-up on and washed again and again, for tea-party picnic outings, for fort-building, cape-wearing, and maybe someday for re-creation or incorporation into something else someone else makes.

On the day that I finally finished it, I put my real work (the kind I get paid for) off until the evening and went out to buy some filling, and a fabric for the back. (Found organic materials for both-- score!). When I arrived home, a package was sitting outside my front door with my name on it. It was from my dad, and contained an old box full of colorful thread, some thimbles and PINS like you wouldn’t believe. I’d never seen it before, but immediately deduced that it belonged to my paternal grandmother (who passed away when I was in high school... and I didn’t even know she sewed). Hooray for my dad being a hoarder of sorts, because here was my perfect sewing tools starter-kit, needing some organization and updating, but definitely enough to get me through. I rocked the final touches on the new-baby quilt, took some (imperfect) photos to remember it by, and sent it off in the mail.

I like making presents for people. I like swallowing my impatience in order to see something (big picture) I imagined take shape from pieces. I like the uneven lines. I like that the quilt I made doesn’t have six million identical twins, all manufactured in China. It's completely unique. For the borders, I cut up (without measuring) a big piece of cloth my most favorite of cousins had brought back from some travels in Kenya before Kaspar was born; we swaddled him in it for months, and now it’s part of something new, for someone new no one's met yet. I like this piecing-together process. It takes patience but brings about surprises (thanks Grandma!) and rewards. My friend, who’s very pregnant with the little girl-baby, wrote today that it’s “by far the most beautiful thing we have for (her). I’m so touched.” Which left ME so touched that something so clearly imperfect can also be beautiful and appreciated and loved.

This is how we are. And so it's fitting that our things-- that we make, give, and receive-- should also be this way.

Now I want to make more. My friends better keep having babies, though; I don’t think I have a big quilt in me just yet. Not until I learn to measure things properly, anyway, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Hello, my name is Taylor, and I’m an imperfectionist.

Kaspar, making sure the quilt works...
02/15/2012 06:30

um, at the risk of breaking anonymity, can i say that we are the recipients of this amazing quilt. and i see no imperfection, just amazing thoughtfullness, it's the most beautiful thing my baby (still in there! today is the due date), owns. i am deeply grateful.

02/20/2012 20:06

Just saw today that little lady has arrived!!!! YAY! So glad I could send something for her that you love. Can't wait to meet her in person, mama!

02/15/2012 08:58

It's beautiful! And I like how Kaspar served as your tester (very important). I've got some quilting projects stashed away, but haven't been able to face the hugeness of laying out everything and cutting perfect squares.

02/20/2012 20:04

Dive in, Daughter Fish! Perfect squares are overrated. Can't wait to see your quilts!

02/15/2012 13:54

You are full of surprises! What a beautiful quilt. I saw the reversible pants you made a while back, too. You make me want to sew.

02/20/2012 20:03

Do it! If I can, anyone can!

02/19/2012 02:57

love it! it's one of those gifts that she'll keep for life :-) Just did a little post about favorite blogs and you're on it!

02/20/2012 20:02

Wha?! I blush. Thank you! I must add you to my links I love. Long overdue!

Liz Hengen
02/19/2012 06:36

Dear Taylor, I'm so glad you liked the sewing box. It actually belonged to your maternal grandmother (Granny). I remember when she bought it back in the late 1960s and filled it with all her daily sewing needs. She would be thrilled happy to know you have it and find it useful. Love, Mum

02/20/2012 20:00

Ah, so Grandma wasn't a secret sewer... Though dad apparently thinks she was! I love having the back-story on the box; thank you. It's so very sixties, actually. I'll have to post a photo. xo


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