Feb 2, 2007

Community Quilting: All Parts Contribute to the Whole

Every Monday morning, I pack up my sewing machine, my sewing box of supplies and whatever quilt(s)I am currently working on and head down to my community quilting group. The feeling of anticipation is quite lovely. I know that I will be in the company of a group of dear women. There is an absolutely wonderful spirit that embraces us as we set up and share and start in on our projects.

In our quilting group, we sew independently of one another, and seldom work on one thing at a time as a group, yet there is this true sense of group energy that becomes palpably present as we work in one room, separately, yet somehow, together. We have the most amazing fun, we laugh and laugh..sometimes until we are rolling on the floor.

The quilt that I am currently working on, is one of two in which we all contributed using some donated fabric. There was a piece of fabric that inspired no one, let alone any of us. There was a piece of a fabric that was just not the right color to go with anything else any of us even had in our stash. And there were some plain white scraps of rather strange content that was so small and scrappy in bits, that normally we might have just discarded the bits totally. So, three little orphans of leftovers suddenly became a proposition: Each of us was to take some of the three colors of the hodge podge scraps home and come back with at least two 12" blocks to contribute to a group quilt.

As I made my blocks, trying to fit pieces in and around arms eye cutouts in the fabric, I remember thinking...'boy, am I glad that I'm not the person who has to take the final blocks home and fit them together. Without a plan or a pattern to match one another, it was going to be hard to fit in each of our discrepancies into one whole. But somehow, the blocks began to show up and bit by bit we had enough for not one, but two quilts.

Well, as fate would have it...I ended up with half of the blocks and I was the one elected to make some of the 11", 11 1/2" and 11 3/4" blocks suddenly turn into perfectly appearing little 12" blocks! We all tried, we were using fabric none of us really even liked, it was tricky cutting pieces out of the odd shaped bits and pieces....so we just did as our personalities were want to do. Some of us try harder than others to be perfect. Some of us didn't try at all, and some of us tried too hard.

This is the joy of the blending of personalities in community quilting. We are interesting mirrors of one another and our community as a whole as each of us tries to fit in her own level of skills and abilities with others whose levels may be quite different. It is a lesson in loving acceptance of personalities and of the flaws inherent in each and every one of us... as well as in the blocks and the quilts that we each create.

I love, truly love, this hodge podge little band of women. We are a powerful group of women in many ways...beyond what most of us realize. Monday after Monday, we sew for a few hours, or we sew all day long and on some days we don't even sew at all. We organize, we label, we wash out mildewed donations of fabric, we box up and bag up and we support and applaud and we commiserate.

We join together in spirit and in intent and somehow, almost magically, quilts are created. To me it is the deepest and truest meaning of the word 'community.' We are all parts of a whole in all of the best and deepest meanings of the word.


Nellie's Needles said...

Reading your description of the Monday sewing group, I can almost imagine being there among all of you.

Is that photo of the red, white and blue quilt, the one you were relating about?

Shelina said...

What a great post about "community". I wrote one just the other day about that word. What a heartwarming group you have - it is always fun to sew with a community of quilters. I too was wondering if this was the quilt you are talking about - because it looks like similar pattern and fabric, and went together very well.

Michele Bilyeu said...

Yes, it is the one and the same. It's great fun getting donated bits and pieces and turning them into something useful. Makes you feel kinship with the pioneer women who started the whole idea of quilting!