On Giving Quilts – What I wish you knew
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Yesterday I awoke with the realization that the holiday season is here! Oh my! (Where has 2017 gone???)
Which means tomorrow is Black Friday. I hope you will check back with me tomorrow because I have a super special announcement post for Black Friday. I’ve literally been waiting four months for Black Friday to happen, just so I can make my announcement.
But the whole Black Friday mood has me thinking about gifts.
If you’re one of those quilters who is “on the ball,” then I’m sure you plan on giving quilt gifts to some of your loved ones. To me Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year, and giving quilty gifts to the people I love is just the icing on the cake. Sure, it’s a little stressful trying to get it all done on time, but mostly it’s fun and exciting to give a quilt to someone as a gift.
But I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t admit that it can also be a little bitter sweet, too. Can we just say it? I will try to put this as delicately as I can, but sometimes it feels like the person we gift our quilt to isn’t as thankful as we wish they were. In their defense, most of them have absolutely no comprehension as to what you just gave them. If that’s happened to you, then I feel your pain. It’s happened to me a few times, too, and so I hope the words I share below will be an encouragement to any quilter who has felt that sense of let down.
These are the things we wish they knew, but we will probably never tell them. So, just mull these words over, and say them back to yourself. Hopefully, this will bring you back to a place where you remember that it was worth it, even if they didn’t quite “get it.”
What I wish you knew about the quilt I gave you
You may be thinking, “This is just another one of her quilts.” Let me remind you that, just like you, the quilt I gave you is a one of a kind original. There is not another one like it on the planet.
If you’re thinking that it’s just a blanket, let me correct you on that, too. A blanket is made from one whole piece of fabric, cut to size and bound on the edges. It takes about an hour to make a blanket.
A quilt is lovingly stitched from many carefully selected fabrics. A typical bed size quilt that is machine pieced and quilted requires at least 25 hours of labor. And you were worth every one of those 1500+ minutes.
I knew I was going to give this quilt to you before I went to the store and shopped for the fabric. I took an extra long time selecting each one because I wanted to choose colors and designs that were just right for your personality. I chose motifs that reminded me of you, your hobbies, your likes and dislikes, our private jokes. Each fabric reminded me of how unique you are. And during every one of those 1500 minutes I thought of you and said prayers over you. My love for you was threaded into each and every stitch.
It took some extra time, but I carefully chose the stitch designs for the quilting. If you look closely, you might see motifs of things I know you enjoy. You may even see little messages from me stitched into the fibers. “I love you.” “You are my sunshine.” “You are amazing.”
While I can never know for sure, I estimate that the average quilt contains about a million stitches. Just think about that for a minute. With each stitch I thought of you. And you were worth every one of those million stitches. So, even if you don’t understand the value of this gift, you should know that I would make a million more stitches if it would help you know how much I love you and how important you are to me.
If you’re thinking that it’s just a handmade item that doesn’t have much value in today’s economy, let me point out a few things. An average bed quilt requires about 11 yards of fabric. Quilting fabric costs about $12 per yard. I invested a little over $130 in your quilt just for the cloth. This does not include the price of the batting, the thread used to piece the patchwork, or the threads used to stitch the layers together. And while we’re discussing cost, we haven’t really addressed the value of my 1500+ minutes. If you think that sewing a quilt is a minimum wage job, let me set you straight. Making a quilt requires careful engineering and precision, an understanding of basic geometry, the ability to solve a few mathematical equations, and an intimate understanding of design and color theory. Most jobs that require that level of skill are NOT minimum wage jobs. And we will not venture into the discussion of how much money was needed to buy the panoply of tools and equipment I’ve purchased in the pursuit of making quilts for the people I love.
A conservative estimate is that this quilt is worth over $1000 (perhaps even closer to $2000 if I hand quilted it) but that isn’t really what is important here. What I really want you to know is that the gift is extravagant, but not because of the investment of materials or time that I put into it. It’s extravagant because of the investment my heart made when I first decided to give it to you. My soul is woven into this quilt. In fact, it may have a little bit of my blood in it too. (Needles are sharp.)
I’d be flattered if you’re thinking that it’s too special a gift to actually use, or that it should be put on a shelf to be displayed and admired. But I should set you straight on that idea, too.
It was made to be used.
I will know you have appreciated the gift when I return years later and notice that the binding is getting a bit frayed. A few stains will only serve to remind me that you loved me too. I can only hope that every time you covered up with this quilt you felt me near you and that you felt wrapped up in my love.
So, if anyone ever envies this quilt or asks you how much it’s worth, you can tell them that they cannot afford it. Because whether you realize it or not, this quilt is not only a gift of my art, but it is a gift of my heart. And if I had all the time and fabric in the world, I would keep making quilts for you and everyone else I love. Because love is worth a thousand stitches.
Did I leave something out? What is it you wish someone knew about the quilt you gave them?
Until next time, Happy Quilting!