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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Grrr! (01/28/10)

TITLE: Pieces of My Heart
By Ann Grover
02/03/10


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When my daughter Lisa announced at Easter that I’d be a grandma before Christmas, I decided to do the only thing a grandma could do.

Make a quilt.

I envisioned myself piecing together tiny triangles and squares into a rainbow-hued masterpiece. I would love it. My daughter would love it. The baby would love it, dragging the handcrafted blanket around until all that remained would be a tattered, beloved rag.

I knew nothing about quilt making, but it couldn’t be difficult, could it? Just cut up fabric and sew the pieces back together. I dragged out pins and scissors and wiped linty dust from the sewing machine. The last thing I’d sewn had been a shepherd’s costume for a Christmas play when Lisa was ten.

The fabric bag was jammed in the closet and revealed a pair of knee-less jeans, a torn pajama top, and an unfinished placemat. Under a couple of stained T-shirts, I found an old dress of Lisa’s.

Pink, blue, and yellow stripes. Happy memories.

It was perfect.

Even with my limited experience, I knew I needed more material. Bursting with enthusiasm, I drove to our local department store.

“Do you have a pattern?” The clerk flopped a bolt of chartreuse fabric onto the counter.

“Squares and triangles.”

“You need a pattern. I don’t carry quilting books.” She pursed her lips. “You’ll have to go to the city for that.” She snipped at the cloth.

Grrr!

Relax! It’s only sixty-four miles to the city.

“Pattern?” asked the lady in the city store.

“Just something simple,” I suggested.

“Perhaps ‘Rail Fence,’ ‘Ohio Star,’ or ‘Broken Dishes?’”

She flipped the glossy pages of a thick book. Intricate designs swirled off the pages.

“This is a beginner book. Step-by-step directions,” she reassured me.

I felt dizzy.

“Trust me. A colour-blind woman with one hand tied behind her back and the other hand kneading bread could whip these up.”

Okay, I’ll try.

“Let’s choose your fabric,” she bubbled. “Would you like fat quarters?”

I think not. Something fat can’t be good.

Displaying several bolts of fabric, she explained how different hues complemented the colours of Lisa’s dress.

Two hours and $357.61 later, I left the store armed with cutting mats, rotary cutters, quilters needles, quilters’ thread, acrylic rulers, and enough of a “stash” to make several quilts.

Grrr!

However, onward!

Using the razor-sharp blade, I cut the fabric, piling up tiny squares and triangles. I was aghast at the number of pieces. Several hundred, at least.

Apple blossoms drifted across my overgrown lawn.

I sewed for miles and miles, joining squares to triangles, triangles to triangles. I pressed the seams, just like the book said.

Grrr!

I’d made a huge mistake. Some pieces were sewn together backwards. Dozens of squares needed to be picked apart.

As you sew, so shall you rip.

Persevere!

Hours, or possibly days, later, I tackled reassembling the colourful bits, but when I got to the end of the stack of blue triangles, there were leftover yellow pieces. I searched for the missing pieces under the sewing machine, on the floor, in my pockets. Nothing.

In desperation, I check the trash. Sure enough, I found the errant blue pieces hiding between orange peels and soggy coffee grounds.

Grrr!

Keep going!

Washed and ironed again, the triangles and squares were joined, frayed edge to frayed edge, forming blocks. Blocks blended with blocks, creating bright stars and pinwheels. It was finally time to put the quilt together, top to batting to backing.

Tomatoes in my neglected garden fell to the ground with a juicy splat!

I painstakingly pinned the layers, then quilted through all thicknesses.

Clunk!

The machine stopped dead. The needle was bent, angling forward like a hockey stick.

Grrr!

Try again.

Yellow and red leaves littered the yard.

Yards and yards of narrow strips became the binding, and I attached it to the lumpy, bumpy quilt. I jabbed my fingertips as I hand-sewed, then dabbed at the tiny dots of crimson until they were nearly invisible.

Snow dusted the trees and walkway.

Almost there.

The binding was rippled, many blocks were misshapen, and sharp points were missing from the stars. The stripes of Lisa’s childhood dress staggered along the border in a crooked line.

It was perfect.


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This article has been read 509 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Esther Phillips02/04/10
I love quilting and learned it from my grandmother. Hopefully, you can teach your grandchild. I enjoyed your writing and could empathize with the happenings you went through.
Good piece!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/09/10
I also liked the ending, after all next to Jesus who else would have perfect love- a grandma of course. It was well written and I could see the quilt in my mind's eyes. You were right , it is perfect.
Mona Purvis02/09/10
So nice. My grandmother made so many quilts in her 101 yrs. I've never attempted one...maybe I should. Love this story.
Mona
Loren T. Lowery02/09/10
Perseverance indeed! Even though I don't quilt, I can sure identify with your MC. She did, however, display a lot more patience than I and her humility was a teaching lesson in and of itself.
Lyn Churchyard02/09/10
Your MC's frustration at her first attempt at quilting pulled a heartfelt groan of sympathy from me. The "clunk" and the bent needle were a great audio-visual to remind me why I have unused cutting mats, templates and a pile of fat quarters languishing in a box under my bed. A very Grrr-worthy entry.
Beth LaBuff 02/10/10
A heart-warming story, perfect for my Grandma-heart. :)
Lollie Hofer 02/10/10
If my grandma was still alive, I would call her right now and read this wonderful story to her. She was a remarkable quilter. This was a lovely story with a great last line.
Carol Slider 02/10/10
Oh, hilarious! Loved it, from beginning to end! And as someone who can barely sew on a button, I could really relate to it. You know, if I start right now, I MIGHT be able to make a quilt for my first grandchild!! (Note: My only child just turned seven...:)
Noel Mitaxa 02/11/10
I admire the MC's persistence in following through what 'seamed' like a good idea before all the challenges hit. Good flow despite the delays. Thank you for this, for it was amusing - without having me in stitches!
Folakemi Emem-Akpan02/11/10
"As you sew, so shall you rip". Hilarious line. I was eating while reading this. Thank goodness the chilli did not go the wrong way.