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:
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.
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.
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.
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