I have no idea why I am so drawn to anything having to do with quilts . . . but I am. I bought my first book on how to make a quilt when I was seventeen years old though I never did make one then. For college graduation I asked for and received a sewing machine. I was thrilled.
Though I loved to sew and even dragged my mom’s sewing machine to college with me, I got married and had a child before I actually made my first quilt. Since then I’ve lost count of the quilts I have made. I love designing quilts, sewing them, snuggling and sleeping under them, giving them as gifts, reading about them in stories, researching them, and now, writing about them.
My first foray into actually stitching a quilt happened when I talked my mother-in-law and a friend into taking a beginning quilting class. We made a log cabin quilt, tearing the fabric into strips rather than cutting it. The fabric got all wonky. This is my own weird word for a quilt square that is close to perfect but it’s just not quite square, or the seams just don’t quite match up. It can usually be fixed with tweaking or a bit of “un-sewing,” but it must be dealt with.
Despite some wonky blocks, I felt pretty confident after my first class and also loved the whole process of quilting, so I signed up for a quilting class at the local community college. This was taught by a professional quilter, and it definitely challenged me. The pattern had lots of tiny little points and curves. I learned that stitching a smooth, even curve is HARD. I made so many wonky blocks that the instructor (who is now a good friend) actually spent most classes sitting next to me pulling out my stitching and making me re-do it while she chatted away with the more experienced women in the class who didn’t need quite as much supervision.
I didn’t start quilting until I had a solid understanding of sewing. Transitioning those skills to creating a quilt required learning some new skills but also relying on skills I already had. From my first wonky log cabin, I have grown and improved. I have even made a few quilts that I would categorize as artsy. With perseverance, I have progressed. My fiction journey so far has followed a similar course.
In terms of my writing, I know I can write. I’ve written numerous academic papers, but on this latest adventure I’ve had to transition those basic skills into the new arena of fiction. This has required some new skills. The more I write, the more comfortable and confident I get, but some of the scenes that I’ve written so far have been, well, wonky, not that different from a quilt block that’s not quite right. They’ll work but just need a little fudging or tweaking to fit the plot’s structure. I could probably revise them forever and never reach “perfect” in either a quilt or a scene, so I’m accepting that wonky scenes are part of writing just like the occasional wonky block is part of quilting. And maybe wonky isn’t so bad. At least for me, its a place to start.