My post this week is about a treasure of very personal sort — more than a decade in the making (and it’s still not finished!). Back in high school, I started saving scraps of denim whenever I turned a worn pair of jeans into a pair of cut-off shorts. I originally planned to make pillows out of them. In college I learned to quilt, and so the denim scraps that had been piling up for years found their purpose.
During winter break of my senior year of college, I started piecing together the first square. That was nearly 11 years ago. The quilt is a sampler (each block is a different pattern) and I accented the denim with pieces of other clothing. One block has pieces of the dress that I wore for high school graduation. Another includes flannel from my grunge days. Over the years, I obtained used pieces of clothing from friends that they planned to discard — some thought I planned to wear the dresses/shirts myself. Others knew I was really going to cut the material into strips for quilting.
Now, some of the quilt’s blocks contain pieces of a shirt from a college roommate. Other blocks have a floral pattern from a dress a former coworker and dear friend gave to me. I love the quilt all the more for the people and times that I recall as I work on it.
After I finished piecing the blocks I bought yards and yards of thin denim for the borders on the top of the quilt and to make the backing. The top, backing and a thin layer of batting are basted together and I’m in the quilting stage right now. The quilting is also sampler-style, with different patterns along the border and in each block. The layers are so thick, and the quilting needle I use is so long and sharp, that I must improvise a thimble using a metal spoon in order to protect my fingers.
The quilt is queen-size and completely covers me as I work on it. It is so heavy (mostly due to all that denim) that I can really only work on it during the winter. It’s actually been several years since I did so (like many things, it took a backseat to grad school). I’m determined to get back to work on it again now that the weather is turning colder. It will no doubt be several more years before I can finally finish the edges and call it done. Not unlike a scrapbook, it documents nearly half of my life thus far. Every stitch has been done by hand. It is my opus.