A couple weeks ago, I decided to partake in the most recent Modern Quilt Guild Challenge. Why not? The theme is “Find Your Own Voice” and I’m pretty sure I have one. But… it took me a while to think of a quilt that really felt right for this particular endeavor. But then it came to me in one of those eureka moments, whereupon I ran from my sewing studio to the living room (about 15 feet) where Kyle was eating a bowl of apple cinnamon cheerios sans milk (I wasn’t kidding) and announced my plan. His response? “That sounds hard.” We’ll see…
Anyway, while I know most quilters have a similar tendency toward starting too many new projects at once, I think I’m slightly unique in that unfinished projects kind of torture me. They just sit there, all dejected, taunting me from whatever bag or corner I’ve relegated them to. So I decided that before I begin this next ‘for me’ quilt, I’d better finish up my clamshell.
Yep, those would be curly cues in my clamshells.
I’m going to cut to the chase here: This quilt. Is. Not. Perfect. Not even close, as a matter of fact. It’s wonky in all sorts of ways, and puffy enough in places to be a quilt-pillow hybrid. Really, I was looking for a way to keep up with my quilting while on the go and decided it would be fun to try some more traditional hand piecing—not my usual style. But I love it. And here’s why:
The shot cottons remind me of Christmas morning when I opened up a package from my mother full of these stunning fabrics. Except for the lime green which I purchased at a Boston Modern Quilt Guild meetings, held at the most charming fabric store I know in Portsmouth, NH. I cut up all those little clamshells about one week before my wedding, full of the excitement and anticipation of my upcoming marriage. I remember piecing them on a porch in the Kruger of South Africa, watching an impala pass by ten feet in front of me, then on the beach in Mauritius while the water line crept up toward our lounge chairs. I remember sewing together a few clamshells at the Dubai airport, bleary-eyed and swollen-ankled after a 15-hour flight, having just washed my face and brushed my teeth in a public bathroom (an oddly bonding experience with my fellow travelers) and while sucking down a giant Starbucks cappuccino. I continued piecing on the airplane ride to the wedding of two dear friends in Texas, and at SOWA in between rushes of the craft-enthusiast customers that remind me why I love Boston and its residents so much. I stitched the final clamshell while listening to the 96th NPR discussion about the debt crisis… perhaps that last memory isn’t the fondest.
Furthermore, this quilt will probably always remind me of the first time I got my finger caught in my machine while quilting. It wasn’t pretty. Something about those curly cues got me into this overly-confident flow and before you know it… not pretty. I didn’t even tell Kyle at first (What do you say? You know that machine I’m obsessed with, which cost more than two-month’s rent? Yeah, it just massacred my thumb) but it didn’t take him long to spot my bandaged left hand.
This quilt is a little sliver of my life (as well as an homage to my somewhat slivered thumb). It was a chance to dip my toes in the tradition that I’m now a part of in my own off-kilter way. So I love it, flaws and all.