There is always a bittersweet emotion when I have finished working on a quilt. Especially a quilt that is somewhat large and time-intensive. So when I have completely finished a quilt such as the one I just did, that bittersweet emotion hits me like the loss of a good friend.
Maybe I should explain. After many many hours of planning and studying and sewing and futzing and plain-old holding it, the final hours of needlework on a quilt takes me into a finishing-phase with a mixed bag of sentiments. Bittersweet.
To me, finishing a quilt translates to letting go of the work that has held me captive for so long. Finishing a quilt means that the concerted effort and, sometimes intense, concentration has ended. Finishing a quilt is also when I feel the presence of a void that I don’t often experience. But make no mistake — it IS a void, it is the loss of a place or a friend that I used to know. That place where I would go frequently to have fun and play or take myself to create or to remember. Or where I would visit for quiet reflection or conversation with everyone, and no one, at the same time. A place that I miss when it is gone.
So finishing up a quilt like Pastel Pinwheels brings forth a variety of sentiments in me that some could compare to having an empty nest or, as I mentioned, the loss of a good friend. I doubt I’m unique or alone with these bittersweet endings. There are probably other quilters who experience the very same bittersweet endings as I do when they have finished a large quilt. Happy because I have succeeded in completing a large quilt. Happy because I actually like the finished quilt. Sad because I’ve finished it. Sad because I already miss it. Bittersweet.
For me, I always know if the bittersweet endings will come. I know myself well. Once I have finished hand stitching the back portion of the binding on a quilt, I am in the final stages of letting go of that quilt. Some quilts I’m just happy to finish. Others I’m not ready to leave. Those are the ones I bond with. Those are the good ones. Those are the ones that grow on you, with time. And those are the ones that, while you are creating them, they are creating something in you. (How do they do that?)
I’ve quilted for such a long time that I know my sentimental attachment can be determined by the quilt label I make. If I really love a quilt, and really bonded with that quilt, the label will be special. It will be a label that was created to somehow reflect the attachment or importance of that quilt in my life.
For me, the quilt labels are like a measurement of the quilt’s value. The nicer labels are placed on the quilts that I appreciate and value the most. For whatever reason. the longer it takes to create the label, the more solid the bond becomes with the quilt. It’s as though the quilt’s label is not just my signature but my allegiance to the quilt. Some labels on my quilts are lavish. Some are personal. Some quilts don’t even have a label. It all depends….It depends whether the quilt created something within me as it was being created.
The special quilts get special labels, and from my viewpoint, it’s because they have earned one. Such was the case with this quilt, Pastel Pinwheels.
The blocks in this quilt include fabrics from both my mother’s and my maternal grandmother’s scrap collection. A few other fabrics came from a deceased best friend, Jan. I just love the festive pastel fabrics in this quilt. But it’s the extra-special scraps that gave this quilt an extra-special quality.
And then there are those vintage buttons I added. Some of those buttons were from my grandmother’s house dresses, I am sure. And I do so remember her wearing those house dresses when we would visit. I think I’ll put this quilt on the twin bed today.