Counting Quilts

Some people count sheep when they’re trying to sleep. Last night I decided to count the quilts I’ve made. I had just read about a quilter, who’s made over 300 quilts in her brief career. I can guess how many hours that took!

I tried quilting in the 70s, but it didn’t stick. Those were the days of young motherhood, when I was sewing clothes for me and two little boys. However, about a decade ago, while browsing in a quilt shop with friends who quilt, I impulsively bought a pattern for a small (14 inches square) wall quilt. It went together well, its blocks arranged (or “set” as the quilt world calls it) to form a wreath. I still love that little quilt, because I added design elements not included in the pattern. I made it “mine.” My Wreath. It hangs over a stairwell in the living room.

Okay, that’s number one.

Other quilts hang on the walls or drape across surfaces in my home. “Freedom” in the dining room: the result of a class that got me out of the everything-has-to-be-square-and-match rut. “In the Garden” in the living room came about because my quilting friends and I had a block swap with a group of German women we met online. In the guest room hangs another swap project we dubbed “En der Sea.”

Also in the guest room is a wall quilt my sister made and gave to me, a precious gift, as it was her first quilt. Over the years I have made three quilts for her, because I know as a quilter, she will appreciate them.

Seven and counting.

My sister and I have spent precious hours sewing on quilts together. We first discovered the fun of it when we decided to make a quilt for our niece. I hauled my sewing machine to my sister’s house, where we planned, cut and sewed together. I love to imagine “Two Angels” hanging on our niece’s bedroom wall. It sort of lets her two aunts hover over her in our own way, since we don’t see her very often.

A few years ago, my sis and I decided to make quilts for our parents. This time we each made a twin size, but we had to plot and plan and mail each other fabrics to be sure the quilts would go together. That was the only bed-size quilt I’ve made. Since then we’ve lost Dad, but Mom still uses her “Red, White and Blue.”

Until this writing, I didn’t notice how often I’ve relied on my quilting skills when I need gifts for weddings, birthdays, thank-yous, or Christmas. I once made a quilt, really a fabric get-well card, for a friend who was fighting cancer. Printing tribute poems and words of encouragement onto cloth seemed the least I could do compared to what she was going through.

Another time, someone asked me to make a quilt for her to give as a gift. She hired me to make a crib quilt with a Looney Tunes theme because she couldn’t find what she wanted. I designed it myself, and it turned out great. I liked being paid for something I love to do, but I found that it could be hard to part with something I put hours of work into, especially if I would never see it again.

Before I fell asleep, I had counted over a dozen quilts patched together by me. Today, I thought of more to add. “Scrappy Sarah” resulted from a class on how to make a flannel quilt. I gave it to my first son and his wife for Christmas and now get to watch my grandchildren make tents with it. I made “Martini Time,” the size of a piece of printer paper, for a friend, who invites me over for movie and martini night. For my cousin, I made a quilt of her t-shirt collection, many formerly owned by her brother who died several years ago. For my husband I made “Asian Squares,” because he liked the one we saw in a quilt shop and helped pick out the fabrics. Because my second son liked that quilt, I made a similar one for him, the “RyLa,” which hangs on his family room wall. Most recently, I made “Mi Casa es su Casa” for a cousin and her spouse, who welcome us to their home in Arizona every winter.

So, that’s a couple dozen quilts. So far. I haven’t made hundreds like the quilter I read about, but I’ve made a lot more than I realized. Something else I’ve realized as I write this? Making quilts is about more than the number I can produce in a year or a lifetime. It’s about the joy in the creative process and accomplishing something I love to look at and touch, or give to someone I care about.

When you go to bed, I recommend listing what you’ve done during the day instead of lying there regretting all that you didn’t. You’ll sleep better.

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