Forty-nine months and a couple of days. THAT is how long it took to finish my daughter's memory quilt. The one for her wedding which was just about four years ago. Blood, sweat, and tears. I carried my heart, the fabric, clothing, cotton batting, and the idea from the house in Weston to Chappaqua to Pleasantville to Starksboro. On March 8 I made a quilt sandwich, basted it with 200 big juicy quilting pins and started shoveling it through the 5.5 inch throat of a home 'quilting' machine.
Note: pulling stitches with a seam ripper requires patience and that's about it. Pulling stitches out of two layers of fabric and a quarter inch of cotton batting is a no go. You'll destroy the top at the very least. I did manage to salvage the backing and batting can be pieced back together and in the end that was all that mattered because the entire project turned into a do-over from just about the ground up. This part: Don't start machine quilting until you're absolutely certain a thing deserves to be quilted.
The Fibonacci spiral on the screaming orange (she likes orange. a lot) background was a bust. The design was exceptional in my head, on paper, and even not so terrible in the mock-up. The near finished product was horrifying. Not everybody hated it but I did which is what made it a no go. If it wasn't for the clothing I'd have burned the thing in the driveway.
The fabric circles were cut from fourteen separate articles of clothing (some given freely, others harvested from the back of a closet) belonging to nine people. They were glued, pinned, taped, and sewn to the background until I had a mathematically almost accurate spiral. Ugly as shit.
That was March 8, 2022. On March 9, 2022 I started ripping with the intention of saving every last one of those circles (I did, mostly). On March 10, 2022 I ransacked my stash in the morning and made a run to Joann Fabric in the afternoon. The good news was mostly the bolt of minty blue at the bottom of a giant bin. I consoled myself with the fact that I'd already invested in that much fabric even if I couldn't for the life of me remember what for.
On March 11 I did some math and started cutting. The math and the fabric were the extent of the roadmap and the rest just sort of happened. I learned a lot along the way. Mistakes were made. Some resolved. Others ignored. In the end I didn't overthink the thing, I just thought about Lucia and Lucia's husband and the rest of us.
On April 18, I had this:
As of Monday, there are also two of these:
The machine was sent to the sewing machine doctor but that's not really what took so damn long to finish that last bit.
I wanted to see my daughter. I wanted to give her the quilt with at least two of her siblings and the step-father we kept but that wasn't happening without a significant amount of chasing and wrangling on my part and I'm just about done with that business. Instead it sat folded at the foot of my bed until I surrendered. Yesterday.
I drove to the Fedex store in Williston, acquired a shipping box and sent it south, no signature required.
I live a long way from anywhere and Williston is a ninety minute round trip drive. I cried all the way home.
I needed to get it out of my room, out of the house, and out of the state. I needed to let go of the last four years and move on. I needed to step over the risk of having it received badly, or worse, ignored. After all, those things aren't about me but they do gnaw at my guts.
This morning the quilt is gone. I checked. It's in Connecticut. It will arrive on their doorstep by end of day assuming the creek don't rise. And I feel empty.
To be fair, it's a grim rainy day in a long line of grim rainy days and probably if the sun was out I wouldn't feel so badly. I might not feel as if I'd shipped off the last little bit of my daughter. I haven't. It just feels that way and that feeling is just for now.
Having written all that I've got one last thing to say.
Should a quilt arrive on your doorstep one day, chances are it's got somebody's heart quilted into the batting. In addition, it's probably got a good bit of you quilted into the batting. Who knew?!
I'm lonely for her, now the thing's gone. I'm lonely for all of them but I'm very happy with the final product.