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Why I Make Quilts
If you had a chance to listen to the ‘Knowing Your Limits’ podcast episode, (you can find it here if you haven’t listened yet) then you know I’m a big believer in setting realistic, attainable, reasonable goals for yourself. Whether you’re trying to save money, build a house, create your dream homestead, or raise your kids, reasonable goals are the only way to go.
The thing about reasonable goals, however, is that you can’t base what’s reasonable for you off of what others are doing. And likewise, what you consider reasonable may not work for someone else.
Along with creating reasonable goals, you need to create reasonable rest. And that it why I make quilts for my family. In fact, I announced to Husbando that I would like to work on clearing out my fabric stash. And to do this I am building up a little stockpile of smaller quilts. We know we would like to get involved in the foster system after we move. We believe this is a great way to give any kid that crosses our threshold something they can keep forever.
Building Quilts for Balance
But it’s more than that. I have found, over the years, that making quilts is great therapy for me. I love the challenge of finding a pattern I love, but then having to pull together the right colors. Very rarely do I come across a pattern in a magazine done in colors I just love. I’m more a blues, purples, and teal greens purple but not everyone is.
And not every beautiful quilt pattern is meant for the colors I like. Sometimes I have to branch out. There’s something wonderful about going to the fabric store and wandering the aisles. Pulling bolt after bolt from the shelves until I have exactly the right combination of fabrics is just magical.
It’s fun to take Husbando too. Our minds work so differently, and he spends the whole time trying to figure out what it is I see in a pile of fabric bolts that look completely different from one another. He’ll even ask me how it is I plan to put the fabrics together. Others might find it frustrating or annoying, but I love it. It’s one of the ways he tells me he loves me – the look on his face as I explain what I see fills me with confidence.
Repetitive Motion Therapy
Remember a couple of years ago when fidget spinners were a big thing? Or adult coloring books? They both serve the same purpose – to reduce anxiety by helping the brain focus on something new. My favorite repetitive motion activity for years has been quilting by hand. For some women, it’s knitting or crochet, but for me it’s hand-quilting.
To be fair, at the height of my troubles with my bipolar disorder, my anxiety was absolutely out of control and I could be found knitting everywhere. I would knit in the car while someone was driving, I would knit at church, I was knitting in movie theaters full of people. It took meeting Husbando, and him deciding enough was enough to finally have someone able to help me work on that aspect of my mental illness.
But hand-quilting is my favorite activity because, like coloring, it requires more than just one-half of your brain to do. I have found that over the course of even just an hour of sitting still and working my thread along a line to pull a quilt together that I feel calmer, more at peace, and mentally rested. It’s as much a balm for my heart as my head.
Giving a Gift from the Heart
The last thing I want to touch on about making my own quilts (and definitely encourage you to give them a try yourself) is how wonderful it is to be able to give quilts as a gift.
So few people think about how much effort and time goes into a hand-made quilt because they can pick up something that is called ‘hand-quilted’ at their nearest big box store and be done. But when you give a friend or loved one, a quilt you’ve made yourself they can feel the difference.
You’ve put love into your quilt, and it may seem silly but they can feel that love. When I make baby quilts for people I spend all the time that fabric is in my hands thinking positive thoughts and putting the energy of my hopes and dreams for them into that quilt. When they get it, I know they’re getting a gift that isn’t just beautiful, but full of all my love and prayers that they will grow up to be happy and healthy. You put a piece of your soul into your quilt, just as any artist does, and the recipient can feel that. It makes a gift unique and beautiful in ways that nothing bought a store could ever begin to compare to.