Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Quilting Bee In My Bonnet

I joined the quilting circle at church. That is to say, I will be joining on Thursday when they have their next session. When I said I'd love to help, I assumed that it was just going to be like my last quilting circle a hundred years ago, where we gathered to hand stitch a single gorgeous quilt and have a nice gossip. Ha!

These gals don't have time for that. They crank out over a dozen lap quilts a month for shut ins and folks in rehab in addition to the big quilt for the annual craft fair in September. When I asked how that was possible with only a handful of people, the organizer told me they do everything by machine and stitch down the edges rather than binding them, then forgo the top stitching in favor of tieing through with bits of yarn.

May I just tell you right here and now that I am clueless. I've never machine quilted in my life. I have no idea how to piece using fancy charts and graphs and blades. When I told her that I would have to be taught what to do, she didn't seem phased at all. She said I could bring my machine or some handwork and just watch and learn and maybe tie some lap quilts off.

So today I ran up to the quilting store for some fat quarters and perhaps a clue. The ladies there must have thought I was slightly bonkers as I spent about half an hour just staring at everything. I looked at all of the exotic tools and notions and books with spectacular geometric masterpieces on their covers and I began to tremble a bit. I am going to slow everybody down and they are all going to hate me for throwing a monkey wrench in their well-oiled quilt making machine.

That was when I saw it. Hidden in the back of the store was a barrel with a sign that said "All the Scraps You Can Fit in a Bag $5.00". I started rummaging and presently I was pulling out calicoes and ginghams and tickings in my favorite shade of blue. As I sorted and searched and picked and folded, I was transported back to my childhood. It was like being seven years old again and given a free hand to explore my grannies' and my aunties' sewing boxes and bags.

Suddenly I knew that everything was going to be just fine and that I did the right thing volunteering to help. I have fresh needles, a new thimble and a yummy sack of scraps so I won't show up empty handed. The quilters meet on the second and fourth Thursday of the month. I will let you know on Friday how it goes.