So a few years ago, my sister in law got pregnant with her third son. We were all in seminary together and lived just a block away from each other. We were also dirt poor. We weren’t like “Old Mother Hubbard” poor, but pretty dang close.
I was racking my brains, trying to come up with a great, useful, inexpensive, but do-able gift. I came across a blue and white gingham curtain that someone was giving away. It had never been used. I got to thinking, and whipped out my handy dandy scissors and before I knew it there was a whole pile of perfectly squared blocks. I hunted around all the baby gifts I had been given (I had just had Emma) and pulled out a white receiving blanket, still in the wrapper (for real, how many receiving blankets did I need?) and a white sheet. Cutting the sheet required a little more finesse, but I cut veeerrrryyyy ssssllllooooowwwllyyy and did my very best to cut straight. I went to Walmart and bought a spool of white hand quilting thread and a needle. And I got to work.
It was actually very easy. And turned out pretty dang cute, if I do say so myself. It never, ahem, got any use because my sister in law is a “saver” meaning it found it’s way into a box into her closet “for the future”. She probably meant, I hate this ugly quilt, please let’s stick it out of sight and just tell her we don’t want it to get puked on. It didn’t matter. I was hooked on quilting.
I’ve lost count on how many baby quilts I’ve made for friends who have had babies. I’ve only made one full-sized quilt for a friend (hello, it was queen-sized and I will NEVER do that again). A friend took pity on me when she found out I was making quilts by hand and brought me over an old, metal sewing machine that just made one kind of stitch. It was crazy scary to use at first, but man alive-once I got the hang of it, I was whipping out those quilts. I even moved on to bags; day bags for Emma to use when I just needed to carry a couple of diapers and some wipes, purses, bags made out of pillow cases, purses made from place-mats…you name it, I tried it.
Now, after all that machine sewing, I still prefer to hand-sew. Is it because I’m crazy? No, it’s because I feel like I have way more control over the stitch. And I’m a big believer in using handquilting thread, it’s super strong.
Last year, a friend of mine found out she was pregnant with her first child. I, of course, immediately started planning a quilt. But I didn’t just want to do a quilt, so I made a teddy bear. I’ve made other teddy bears, but those were just two pieces of fabric, cut to the size of a teddy bear. I wanted to see if I could try a bear with actual arms and legs, so I found a pattern online and here’s the final product:
Here’s a kind of close up, so you can see the bear better:
Now, I’ll be very honest and say that lots of my creations end up looking butt ugly. I once knitted a hat for Lance (I totally didn’t know what I was doing as I was just winging it) and it was THE ugliest hat EVER and he told me in no uncertain terms he would NEVER wear it, but thanks for the gift.
BUT, Lance also thinks I’d make a killing if I sold quilts and matching baby blankets. I don’t think I’ll ever do that, though, because really making blankets and bears are a labor of love. There is not much I am really good at, but I have no fears whatsoever of picking up a needle, thread and some fabric and at least TRYING something. It keeps me sane, this creating. Maybe it’s a control thing. Life is chaotic, I can’t control how lots of things turn out, but if I’m holding the tools, I can at least attempt to control the outcome of this creation. It works in theory, at least. I’ve also discovered through this creating business, that I am not afraid of mistakes. I mean, don’t get me wrong-that quilt and teddy bear are as flawless as my flawed hands can create, but if something isn’t just perfect, I don’t go ballistic and chuck the whole thing in the trash. Instead, I think mistakes kind of give it character. Which is another reason why I won’t sell quilts and blankets, because most people don’t want to buy character, they want to buy perfection. To that I say, head to your nearest Target or Walmart then, because you won’t find that perfection with me.
Anyways, still at work on crafting fodder for etsy.com. Phew, it’s hard to find time to be a full time employee, full time parent, full time wife, and a part time crafter. But I sure do love it.