Sunday, September 07, 2008

Summer Sew Day Part Two

Nathan came the following weekend in order to finish the sea otter wallhanging. At the end of the last sewing session he'd sewn and ripped the two long inner borders five times each in order to get them straight and true. Therefore he had to pick up where he'd left off. I suggested using fabric glue stick to 'baste' the borders in place and ensure they didn't slip while he was sewing.

*Bam* Worked like a dream the first time. Now why didn't I think of that sooner? He mitered the inner borders. We looked in the stash for outside border fabric and found this terrific ocean wave looking print, perfect. He added those borders and mitered the corners. We took a much needed break.

Danielle appears to be completely unsuspecting; this wallhanging is a surprise for her.

We dove in the stash for backing, I pieced a remnant of batting together on the machine. Time and energy were running out so we decided to skip doing an applied binding. Instead we layered it right sides together to stitch and flip; machine quilting it after the edges were finished. By this point Nathan just *wanted it done*! Ever get that feeling as a quilter? I certainly do. Haven't we been working on this thing long enough?! Frank and Danielle were watching a video so I suggested he join them and I'd do the finishing. I machine quilted around the windows and attached a hanging sleeve. I named it "Monterey Memories" and inscribed the date.

When Nathan showed it to Danielle she was tickled. "You did all this work for me? Aww..." Maybe that helped make it worthwhile for Nathan, the joy in the giving.

Just before they left that afternoon Nathan and I had a good conversation about "process versus product". He said having spent all that time on one little wallhanging he realized again it always takes longer than he thinks it's going to, so that's frustrating; that he doesn't really enjoy the process that much and the craft seemed to be mostly about process.

He also said he wasn't very good at the process and didn't know if he liked the whole thing well enough to take the time to get good at it. I thought that was a really good observation... one that would take some time and consideration to understand. How do you know if you're going to like something until you become good enough at it that it's relatively easy - which is where the enjoyment comes in. And in order to get good at it, you have to put a lot of time into getting good at it. I tried to encourage him by saying that he was also learning basic sewing skills while he learned to quilt and that that's as challenging as someone wanting to make miniature quilts without knowing how to make full-sized quilts to begin with. Those that know how to sew bring a whole base of knowledge to the craft. He said he preferred working with wood. "You measure, you cut, it stays put. Fabric is so flexible. It's different every time you pick it up." Yes.. but that's what's beautiful about it, it's forgiving.

I received a really nice e-mail from Danielle later that week saying that they'd bought a dowel to hang it on and it was in her office at work. Her coworkers all thought it was terrific and were really impressed that her BF made it; all and all a sucess story in my book. But it reminded me of quilts I'd wrestled and grappled with and when they were all done it took a long time for the frustrations to fade to where I could look at the quilt with love. Each one is a journey, that is for sure!


Fabricfaire said...

What a great accomplishment! I love the colors together! I am really impressed. Took me 4 years to attempt a mitered corner! Hope he doesn't give it up yet! He has talent like his Mom!

Shasta said...

Nathan (and you) did a great job on this quilt. It's beautiful. I am incredibly impressed that he started with a difficult quilt like this - set in seams, mitered corners, oh my. That is stuff that I have a hard time getting myself to do even now as an experienced quilter.