"She seeks wool & flax, And works willingly with her hands" ~ Proverbs 31:13

December 20, 2011

My Quilt Epiphany

I was just reading an article in the latest Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine asking when your quilt epiphany was. They went on to describe a quilt epiphany as being the moment when you saw a quilt and thought, "I can do that" or "I want to do that."

But, before I can share my epiphany with you I must share where I started. As you know I've been sewing since at least 12 years of age and probably started before that while playing with mom's scraps. Right around 12 or 13 I told my mom I wanted to make a quilt. I picked out a pattern I wanted to make, full of diamonds and lots of pieces. 

My mom tried her best to talk me out of doing this pattern and starting with something much simpler. But, I wouldn't hear any of it. I was so full of myself I was sure I could do it. How hard could it be?  

Amazingly, my mom actually took me shopping for all the fabric I needed. What a sacrifice, we weren't rich by any means, but to spend all that money on fabric for a quilt she knew would be too hard for me, astonishes me.

How I ever learned anything is hard to tell, mom tried to explain to me that the templates I needed to make, needed to be out of plastic so I could cut the fabric accurately. And once again, I refused to listen to her words of wisdom. I grabbed some paper sacks, traced several of each shape onto the sack and cut them out. Then pinning them onto the fabric {just like I would have done for a dress pattern} I set to work, cutting out hundreds of pieces. 

Now, this system would have worked if I had been precise in both tracing and cutting.  What 12 year old do you know who pays close enough to details to be as precise as would be needed for this? Needless to say, I had a huge mess on my hands and didn't even know it.

I pieced several pieces together,  and quickly found myself in quite the pickle. Things were not fitting together like they should have been.  I laid it aside in frustration and avoided it for quite some time. Several times I came back to it and would try again, but every time I'd give up in frustration once again.

This whole experience left me with a very bad taste for quilts. I had no desire to ever work on a quilt.

Fast Forward ten years and as a business owner a customer brought me hundreds of pieces in a box with a couple of blocks started. She called it a monkey quilt and asked if I would finish it for her.  My first problem was that there were no directions. I didn't have a clue where to begin. Secondly and most influential for me, I hated piecing quilts. My answer was an almost immediate no.

My customer wasn't one bit impressed. The name of my custom sewing business at the time was, "Stitches Unlimited by Marcia Ann".  To her this meant that there was no limit to my sewing ability and no limit to what I would be willing to sew.  For me it was a cute name that meant I had varied sewing abilities, but always reserved the right to refuse a job, especially those I didn't feel able to finish well.

Fast Forward again to 2010. I have a friend who, after many years got back into quilting and as I listened to her talk about quilting and all that she was learning, my "distaste" for quilting began to melt away. For Christmas 2010 I pieced two small projects {a pillow and an apron} and the desire to do a real quilt was ignited. Then in February 2011 my quilting friend, provided me with the perfect excuse to make an actual quilt. She and her pastor husband were moving to a new church in a different state.  Immediately I knew I wanted to make a memory quilt for her.  It would be a quilt that all the church members would be able to sign and write messages to them. I'd present it at our going away luncheon, which was only 3 weeks away. 

The inspiration for doing this type of quilt, with the messages and signatures, came from a quilt that this same dear friend had recently rescued from an antique store. She felt lead by the Lord to purchase this quilt, that had obviously been a labor of love for a pastor and his wife. After getting it home, she began to research, starting with the little amount of information on the quilt {I think it was a church name and location}. In a "Chase the Wild Goose" aka following the Holy Spirit turn of events she found the quilt, actually met the original recipient, though she had never received it and returned the quilt to where it belonged.

The rescued quilt

The date helped in her search for the rightful owner

With this little bit of information the search began.
As soon as my friend and her husband let us know that they were moving, I knew I was going to make the same type of quilt for her.  This time I had the wisdom to hear my mom's voice, echoing in my ears, from so many years ago. "Pick a pattern that's simple and can be done fairly quickly."

"Beginner-Friendly Quilts" from Leisure Arts Publication, provided the exact pattern I needed. Not so ironically it was a "friendship album quilt". The description said that it was intended to be signed. I always sit in awe of how the Lord brings such things together. 

After many, many late nights and some sneaking around to get church members to sign the fabric pieces, the quilt came together beautifully. It truly was a labor of love, for a very dear friend. A labor of love that I was honored and thrilled to be able to give to a very dear and beloved friend and mentor. 

The Quilt:

The light squares on these blocks is what was originally meant to be signed by friends. But, I wanted them to have enough space to write a message if they wanted, so I used the sashing strips for the signatures and messages.
The blocks ready to be laid out.

The finished quilt ~ fits a queen size bed

Not too bad for a first quilt

Inkjet printed picture of the old church building.

Inkjet picture of the new meeting facility ~ a high school in the area
The sashing strips provided lots of room for messages

 TIP: If you decide to do this type of signature/ memory quilt, make sure to tell every person signing to stay 1/2" off the edge. This allows for a 1/4" seam allowance and room for stitching. To stabilize the fabric for writing on, I ironed freezer paper to the back of the fabric and asked the people to sign directly on the right side of the fabric. After all the signatures/messages were finished, it's simply a matter of pulling the freezer paper off the fabric before stitching all the pieces into the quilt. Be sure you use a permanent pen that will not bleed on fabric.

My favorite block ~ Love the colors

In the end my quilt epiphany was more of a journey than it was a single inspiring quilt or a single moment in time.  Since this first quilt, I've fallen in love with both piecing and quilting quilts and again I'm in awe of how the Lord has worked in my life and heart. I love the fabric, I love how all the fabrics come together to make something more beautiful than each fabric could ever be own its own.  Seems to me that it's kind of like our lives, individually our lives can be something beautiful. But, when we allow Christ to be Lord of our life and become a part of His Church; our life becomes something more beautiful and more amazing than it ever could have been without Him.  

 Wishing you a Merry CHRISTmas!
Marcia ~ The Little Pink Rose


  1. Thank you for the story, thank you for your sacrifice of time and energy, thank you for your love. I love the quilt and happen to be laying on the couch with it right now as I write this:) Your friend, Eve

  2. Eve, I'm so happy that you're enjoying the quilt. I hope that it brings about warm memories and blessings for many years to come!


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