The pattern showcased in my modern stained glass quilt is called "Shoeman's Puzzle" and comes from Denyse Schmidt's book, Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration.
When my husband John and I first got married we lived in a small loft apartment in Wicker Park, Chicago. We were blissful newlyweds and pretty poor so our standards weren’t very high. But this apartment, oh gosh, it really was beautiful – exposed brick, lofted ceilings, a bathtub and EVEN a garage space (that’s a pretty big deal with Chicago’s crappy weather). Everything was sunny and grand except, there was no sun...none at all really.
We had a bank of windows on one side of the house and that was it. Most of the apartment was never touched by natural light. That made cleaning much easier, because if I couldn’t see the huge balls of Scrappy hair tumble-weeding across the floor, they didn’t exist. However, this lack of light was pretty terrible for photographing quilts.
White fabric became blue, greens became brown and the red! Oh dear the reds looked like...well...old blood, to be honest. And that was an inexcusable tragedy! For a girl who thrived on color, this muddiness was going to drive me to madness. Like Mad Hatter madness. Case in point...
I was making one of Denyse Schmidt’s wonderful patterns when the common frustration started to set in. I had laid out my fabric in pretty little piles, but the light was so drab I couldn’t get a clear shot of the colors. I snipped and cut all of my pieces, but STILL, another cloudy day in Chicago only added to my pathetically poor single ray of sunshine failing to make its way into my home. Then, after weeks of work, I finished the quilt top. I went around and around my little apartment laying it out on every flat surface plausible seeing if MAYBE I could get a decent photo. And what do you know? nada. Nada single one.
I’m pretty sure at some point I screamed. Which is a reeeeal big NONO when all of your walls are shared and at least 20 people can hear you at any given time. In a rage, I yelled, “Well maybe I’ll just turn the damn thing into curtains!” Or something equally nonsensical and melodramatic. Grabbing a few chip clips I haphazardly clipped it to my villainous windows. I huffed and stomped a few paces away then twirled back around, as only tantrum-throwers can twirl, and...all of my frustration and anger dissipated.
It’s hard to feel exasperated when looking at stained glass, and somehow, that’s what I had created. The colors were off. The seams were showing through. The raw edges frayed a little on the sides, but I realized that I could see my work. By allowing light to shine through this quilt top, it took on a level of transparency that showcased the time and tedious steps of making a quilt. In seeing the seams, the fabrics, the raw edges, I remembered all of the moments I spent in the process of making this quilt.
Have you ever finished a project, looked at the end result, patted yourself on the back and then immediately rose-colored over all of the hard work that went into its inception? I do it all the time! I love living in the moment, and if I’m not doing that, I’m frantically planning for the future. The minute I finish one quilt, BLAM! I’m onto the next one! Very rarely do I step back and think about the hours I could have been doing something else, but chose to create something beautiful.
I may be getting too touchy feely here, and the red wine is definitely playing its part, so feel free to stop reading, but I think by writing this post, I’m reminding myself not just to live in the moment, but to remember all of the other moments that allowed for something beautiful to be born.
Sometimes I let Netflix or podcasts or audiobooks numb out the actions of what I’m doing while I’m planning, cutting, pinning, sewing. Maybe once in awhile I should hit mute on those things and focus on this act of creating, because maybe the hours of work put into making a quilt, is just as beautiful as the finished quilt itself. Maybe that’s what is at the core of why quilts are so special – they take a lot of work. To a quiltmaker, it doesn’t feel like work, though, does it? It feels like taking steps in the right direction on a path we were meant to walk.
I should write and drink more often. This stuff is just poooouring out! Wait, John, no don’t take my glass away!!!