Here’s a simple quilt. Red, white and blue. One single motif in the middle. Inspired by the individual bolts of fabric, found at Darn Cheap.
Sewn up super quick. Then stuck on my quilting sewing machine for many many many weeks. Progress was so slow. Not helped by a whole bobbin’s worth of quilting that had to be unpicked because of dodgy bobbin tension.
Not helped by starting my new nursing rotation.
Overshadowed by all the fun I am having with my mosaic.
Finally finished whilst staggering through the worst flu-thing I’ve had in 8 years. As I sat sneezing on the first day of sickness, I wodged a tissue up my nostrils and sat down to just FINISH the bloody thing. Then lay on the sofa, whining and coughing and sneezing, quilt draped over me, to sew down the binding. Then read and slept under it for the rest of the week, intermittently panicking over the five shifts of work I missed, and melodramatically wondering whether I would ever feel normal again.
Good to know, though, that this bit of sewing works well as a warm and comforting quilt. Can’t have too many quilts, right?
It’s the first quilt I’ve started since Grandad’s death. The first quilt I’ve ever made that I haven’t sent him a photo of so that he could see what I was up to. Grandad loved that I quilted, but still offered objective criticism. He’d tell me which colours he thought worked really well and which were not pulling their weight. Which techniques he thought showed I’d really put some time into the quilt, and which he thought were obviously a quick fabric fix. And if I suggested any doubt, he’d always remind me of the value of pulling things apart to start again if the end result truly wasn’t right. But also of not seeking perfection – a vanity he thought stymied both the creative process and the joy to be found in making.
Grandad also loved that I quilted onto vintage, thrifted blankets. Like many of his generation, he was disappointed in the loss of Australian manufacturing, especially the wool industry and its accompanying small rural mills. And he could never understand how someone could prefer a doona over a well made, nicely checked Australian pure wool blanket.
He also loved a good display of thrift – there’s not much that’s thrifty about our modern day patchwork and quilting – we flock to designer fabric labels and gobble up glorious, high quality cotttons that we carefully cut and piece to make something beautiful. And yes, it’s undoubtedly useful, but Grandad loved to ponder that earlier purpose of patchwork – the gathering of small scraps from clothing which were saved, then carefully curated to make warm bed coverings for families. He loved that I eschewed expensive battings and backing fabrics and just whacked my quilt tops on blankets rescued from the opshops.
But whilst he may not have seen this quilt, I was able to include some fabric I know he loved – the binding. It’s from the fabric I used to sew his little black wallaby – the one he is buried with. And as we were driving up to Wombat Hill on Friday afternoon, the car packed to the roof with bits and bobs for the cottage – quilts, crockery, lamps, the Lotte sideboard – we were almost at Mum’s, there was only a skerrick of light left, and there, standing on the side of the road on one of the last sharp bends between Eden and Pambula, was a beautiful little black wallaby.
You often see kangaroos by the road – in the late afternoon there are often dozens gathered on grassy verges and in parks – but not wallabies. They are shy little, solitary things, and much prefer to stay nestled back in the bush. This little wallaby stood alone on the bend, just watching us speed on by.
Dear old Grandad mightn’t be sitting up in his armchair in Queensland, on the other end of the phone, listening to all of our exploits, but oh, he is with us every step of the way.
Every plan we make, fence we strain, trailer load of supplies we buy and unload, fruit tree we plant, vegetable garden we till, compost pile we nurture, chook run we build, animal we feed, Grandad has already laboured over the same, and is loving that we are now continuing on with a way of life he thought was marvellous.
It’s a good feeling.