Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bunny's First Quilt


Over the past week I've spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be a mother. Having three little daughters is hard work -- God forgive me for all the times that I, as a single teacher, thought that stay-at-home moms had it easy. There have been moments when the responsibilities and resulting exhaustion have been almost more than I could bear. Last weekend I devoured a copy of this book which I highly recommend to all overwhelmed mothers, especially those with young children. I came away with a much needed dose of hope, a few new strategies, and a renewed commitment to spend time learning to really love and understand my children.

I'll be honest: there are times when I use my sewing as an escape from motherhood. While I don't think this is completely abnormal, I know that it's also not the best idea, especially for someone who sews as much as I do. Instead of using my sewing as a way to get away from my girls, I want to use it as a method for connecting with them more deeply. My girls have been begging me for months to teach them how to sew, so I decided that this week we were going to finally start. And today, Bunny and I finished her very first quilt.


Keep in mind, my girls are young -- ages 6, 4, and almost 3 years old -- so I'm not going to hand them a rotary cutter and my sewing machine and say, "Have fun!" Instead, I let Bunny sift through my scrap bucket, picking out any pieces she liked. We spread these out on the floor and then she would bring me a scrap or two at a time as we slowly pieced together a log cabin. I did all the cutting and pressing, and often she would sit on my lap, helping me guide the fabric through the machine with her little hand on top of mine. We didn't always agree on her choices -- there are definitely some things that I would have done differently. When I tried to give her a little gentle advice about the wisdom of including a certain scrap, she looked at me with big eyes and said, "Mommy, it's my quilt. Can't I make it the way I want it?" I knew she was right, so I backed off and let her have free reign. I also soon learned that if I in any way showed that I liked a fabric she was thinking of adding, forget it -- she didn't want it anymore. I laughed about this later when I shared it with my husband and parents, all the while tucking it away as useful knowledge for future dealings with my independent daughter.


While we sewed, we talked...a lot. I taught her new words like "seam allowance," "basting," and "binding." She chatted with me about school, her sisters, and upcoming holidays. We both shared reasons why we love sewing. When the last stitch was sewn on the binding, I was tired and my neck ached from trying to sew while looking around a six year old's head, but the satisfaction was incredible. And the look on Bunny's face...it was absolute joy.


I had waited so long to sew with my girls because I thought they were too young, but they weren't really. I just needed to adjust my ideas of what sewing with them was going to be. Bunny didn't have to sew every stitch for it to be her quilt. And I gained the pleasure of time with my daughter and some valuable insights into her life.

In the grand scheme of things, that's a pretty good deal.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday.

33 comments:

  1. Cool. I don't have the patience to do that. Turning down my suggestions drives me crazy sometimes, lol.

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  2. Such a sweet post Heidi! I feel the same way with experiences I have had with Miss L over the past few months. Almost everyday she is asking me to sew something new. She is sad that we are too busy packing but I know once everything is settled she will get onto making that bunny she wants to make her sister. I love how much they love it. Also that I am teaching her something that we can share. Her Dad can't sew. She needs me for that.

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  3. What a beautiful quilt :) sewing sounds like a wonderful way to spend time with your daughters. My om sewed when I was a kid, but never with me (to be fair, though, that was probably my fault for wanting to play outside rather than be cooped up inside with the sewing machine all day- how things change!). I'm always a little envious of the quilters who learned to sew from their mothers or grandmothers. Think of the wonderful memories you're creating for your kids :) they're definitely lucky!

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  4. so wonderful Heidi and a timely reminder to me to spend good quality time with my kids :-)

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  5. Wow! Her quilt is beautiful! You are all going to treasure having it around the house! I helped Tully make a felt toy recently. I felt a bit silly at the end that I'd embarked on it with him, it was really too hard, until I realised that although I made 80 percent of it (mostly stepping in just when he asked me to), he was telling everyone he made it! I think you're right. We can spend time crafting with our kids 'above their level' in a way that's still meaningful and fun for them. I feel really glad for you!

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  6. Fabulous quilt, very special. I know what you mean (exactly what you mean!!) about escaping through sewing, it gives me much needed head space, but it is a lovely way to connect too.

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  7. Sewing is generally "my time" too, but my 9 and 11 year old boys have both made small quilts with me. I set my machine on the turtle speed setting and let them sew while I stand over them to help guide the fabric as needed. They love being able to show off their quilts.

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  8. This post reminds me so much of when my daughters were small. Now they are in their mid 20's and both are also quilters! Enjoy every moment. They are such a blessing.

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  9. I loved reading this post Heidi! Bunny did such a great job picking out and putting together the fabrics - what great choices.

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  10. How sweet! Wonderful to hear how you connected with your daughter doing a sewing project together. And the quilt turned out lovely. And it looks like she is very pleased with it. Love!

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  11. What a wonderful story - and the colors go together extremely well :-)

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  12. This post makes me want to have kids right now so I can teach them how to sew :) Beautiful.

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  13. I think it's a lovely quilt, and she certainly seems to love it judging from that picture! :-)

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  14. Sweet little quilt! I have to admit, I let my daughter sew at school first, and she sewed a dress in a whole term. But we are going to make pillowcases together this weekend!

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  15. FABULOUS post. Her quilt is very modern and I love her fabric choices.

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  16. This post brought some tears to my eyes... I have two boys (9 and almost 5) and a new baby on the way. I too escape from life/motherhood by sewing/quilting. I have made so many quilts and things for other people as gifts, but have never actually completed a quilt for one of my boys... They remind me frequently.
    My littlest sits on my lap while I sew sometimes and I find it frustrating, but try to endure it with patience and a smile. This post made me realize that I really need to find some projects to work on with my boys, engage them more in my crafty world, and in general engage more with them. Thank you.

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  17. Heidi, this post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for writing this. I, too, am guilty of using sewing (and, oddly, cooking complicated scratch dinners) as a way to escape motherhood. I think to an extent, sure. We need a break from our kids. But sharing something you love and spending that valuable time listening to her opinions and learning from her? Wow. I hope you've made another life-long quilter. :)

    (And can we talk about how awesome that quilt is? She's a natural!)

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  18. This is great, thank you for sharing this experience with us.

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  19. What a nice story. Thanks for sharing it, it gave me a moment to pause & smile.

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  20. How fun! No girls here, but both my boys have made quilts (that is, before they turned 12 and 13! :-)

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  21. Awesome! My daughter and I made her first quilt top not too long ago. It was fun (challenging at times), but fun none the less. We'll certainly do it again and I'm so glad you found it as a way to connect with your girls too!

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  22. Hi Heidi, lovely post and what a special quilt. One your daughter will always treasure I'm sure. I love reading your blog as you seem so 'real', down to earth, and caring. Thanks for your honesty as always - motherhood is definitely not easy, and I'm reminded I'm not alone in the MANY challenges with my own two kids. Goodluck finding the right balance between motherhood and sewing/me time. And keep up the good work :) Kelly

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  23. That is such a special experience you've shared, and such a cute quilt, Heidi!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

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  24. Oh Heidi, this is so sweet. The quilt and the time together will always be treasured! You are a great mom!
    xo jan

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  25. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks! You have made this old women very happy. Cherish those special moments. Let Bunny know that HER quilt is absolutely perfect!!

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  26. how sweet, and a great feeling you've given your daughter, good on you

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  28. I really should try that with my oldest daughter. She would definitely love it and has been asking me to teach her to sew for forever!

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