make beautiful things

Missing June {Why I Quilt}

Over the past week, little reminders of why I love to quilt have been popping up here and there. First, the birth of my son. There’s nothing like new life to inspire an overflowing heart and endless inspiration. I just want to stitch my love into a million timeless quilts so that my family can be wrapped in a tangible sign of my love, always. Family, babies, love–what beautiful things!

Then, days later, Amy from Stitchery Dickory Dock announced her new book, For Keeps. In her words, here’s what For Keeps is all about:

For Keeps Pledge

What is it all about?  Well, quilting, yes, but so much more than that.  It’s about building relationships, about preserving priceless memories, and sparking unforgettable family time.  It’s about making beautiful things, and infusing our patchwork with even more meaning and functionality.  After all, isn’t that what quilts are all about? They’re a joy to make, a joy to give, and a joy to use.

It’s about making beautiful things.

This line gets me every time. I’ll tell you why in a minute… but first, the next sign: yesterday, Moda Fabrics posted a graphic on Instagram sharing that it was National Making Life Beautiful Day.

create beautiful things moda fabrics

Create beautiful things.

All of these little signs, popping up here and there all within the first weeks of June remind me strongly of the one who first inspired me to quilt: Grammy June.

On one of the last days before she died, while she and I were looking through her photo album of finished quilts, I kept saying, “Wow, that’s beautiful!”… “Oooh, beautiful!”… “That’s so beautiful!”.  Finally, in her matter of fact way, she turned to me and said, “Well I only make beautiful things.” I wish you could hear her say it. It was just so… true. And so very much like her. She told it like it was like no one else I know, both the good and the bad.

I remember one time, shortly after my second child was born and I was over at a family gathering, just feeling soooo tired and sleep deprived and needed to the brink of my capabilities. I said, “I just need a break,” and Grammy June, in all her tactful truthfulness, replied, “Well you don’t get one.” She was right, but her matter of fact manner stopped me in my tracks. I think I actually laughed. After all, at times like that you can either laugh or you can cry.

Grammy June was an extremely talented traditional quilter. She pieced and quilted by hand, piecing with her Singer featherweight during her final years. I still find myself thinking things like, “I wonder what needle Grammy June would use for this” and for a split second feeling excitement at showing her a new skill or completed quilt. I am sure she would be proud, and I like to think she’s smiling down from heaven, saying “Of course you did” whenever I successfully complete a new quilting technique or create a new pattern. I do know she provides inspiration daily, through her creations and simple advice, which still echoes in my mind regularly. Her one simple statement, “I only make beautiful things” has become my mantra.

make beautiful things
Photo by Liz West, used from Flickr with Creative Commons. Text added by me.

I aim to make beautiful things, daily. To create just a little bit each day: an act of love, a creative outlet, and a little stitch into the quilts of time. I’m missing June, but Finn was born the day before her birthday and within a week I’ve been reminded of her multiple times through her very own words:

…make beautiful things.

I quilt. I make beautiful things. I am continuing her legacy, building relationships, preserving memories, and sparking unforgettable family time. This is just one of the many reasons why I quilt, but it’s a big one.

A few months before her death, I completed a quilted wall hanging for Grammy June. She had made countless quilts for every family member, but I had never heard of her receiving a quilt. I knew that had to change, but I also knew I didn’t have much time. A wall hanging it was, in her favorite color purple, with my first-ever paper pieced Irises, my first-ever flanged binding, and my first-ever free motion quilting. It seemed fitting, and Grammy June loved it. It was far from perfect, but she saw the love and the effort and that’s what matters. That’s why quilts matter.

grammy june iris quilt
Grammy June opening her quilt.

In sum of this reflective post, I will echo Amy’s words and invite you to refocus your heart when it comes to your sewing. Take a moment to pause, amidst your busy lives, bursting sewing rooms, and piles of unfinished projects, to take a quick look at why it is that you sew, and for whom you sew. If you feel so inclined, take the #ForKeepsPledge and spread the quilty love.

At the very least, go ahead and make something beautiful! xoxo

15 thoughts on “Missing June {Why I Quilt}”

  1. That is so sweet, you have a great capacity for love and quilting is a wonderful outlet. I do think homemaking is true too. Fill your home with family and love and wrap them all up in countless quilts. Congratulations on the birth of your son and it will be interesting to see if he influences your future quilts.

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  2. Oh my gosh yes. The first quilt I actually finished (my second quilt started, naturally) was for my grandmother. Her mother, my great grandmother, was very crafty with sewing and crochet etc, and my mother can make anything, but my grandmother could barely thread a machine. When she was in the nursing home for the last few weeks of her life, that quilt was with her, and all of the nurses and visitors commented on how much brighter and cheerier and homier it made the small dark room. Being able to have that quilt there with her has been priceless as I think back on that time. You never know which quilts are going to mean the most, but to me, that one will have such a high place on my list of most important quilts. Thank you for sharing! I am sure that your Grammy June was so proud to receive that quilt, and what a blessing to be able to give it to her!

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  3. Your “make beautiful things” philosophy is great… I too miss my quilting grandma and I’m a lot older than you! The best quilts are used and used and loved and loved. That’s what makes them beautiful!

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  4. What a very wonderful grandma you had Kitty! I love her wisdom and feisty spirit. It is great that you have adopted her words and turned them into your credo: “Well I only make beautiful things.” A beautiful way to live life!

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  5. What a beautiful post, Kitty! Grammy June sounds like she would have been a great woman to know. How wonderful that you share her love for quilting, and that you could make a quilt just for her.

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  6. Thank you for sharing these memories of your Gram with us. I love that sassy comment, I only make beautiful things is a sassy spunky thing to say! I’m too often agreeing to help others with my skills on projects I don’t love and it can be frustrating cause I prefer to end up with a project I love at the end.

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  7. Kitty, I missed your June 12 post until today! I guess I was so busy with teaching the little ones to sew at LQS during that week, I got so behind on everything technology! ha ha. what a lovely story of your Grandmother June. No one in my family quilted but all the women sewed clothing, aprons, etc. I always admired quilts for YEARS, and am go glad I began to learn 14 yrs. ago just before I turned 50! hug that baby Finn extra for me.

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