A Pepper Grinder Post


My wife makes quilts.  As long as I have known her, she has often been doing some type of craft, including a couple of quilts and a couple of comforters, but until the last two years, she was not a quilter.  She would still call herself a beginner or perhaps an advanced beginner, but to me, her quilts look really nice.

jelly rollThere have been a number of things that have surprised me as she got into quilting.  For one thing, I pictured people either making quilts from scraps of fabric they had lying around, or else going into a fabric store and choosing different bolts of cloth that went together and buying a little of all of them.  Certainly there is still a certain amount of this, but you can also buy all sorts of cool collections of cloth in colors and patterns that are designed to go together.  charm packIn these collections, the cloth comes pre-cut in different shapes and sizes, and the intriguing names of these collections vary depending on the shape and size.  There are charm packs, fat quarters, and jelly rolls—just to name a few.

cuttingAnother thing that surprised me was how most quilters cut their cloth nowadays.  I pictured people going at the cloth with a big pair of scissors, but many quilters, including my wife, now use a much more efficient and precise system where you lay the cloth on a plastic mat covered with measurement markings, lay a big plastic straightedge over the cloth where you want to cut it, and then use a rotary knife to make the cut.

The final preconception to die was that of people doing the actual quilting (the pattern of stitching that binds together the front, the batting, and the back) by hand.  hand quiltingSome people do still quilt by hand, and my wife is hand-quilting one special quilt for our youngest daughter.  On the other hand, we have been delighted to find a really nice lady in our area who does quilting for a reasonable price, using a special machine that fills an entire room of her house.  The machine is a long arm quilting machine, and our lady calls herself a long arm quilter, despite the fact that her arms are a normal length.

flying geese quiltIt has also been fascinating to me to see the different kinds of patterns and colors that my wife incorporates into her quilts.  My wife is not a flamboyant dresser.  She has certain types of colors that she looks good in and likes, and she tends to stick to those.  When making a quilt, however, she pulls in all kinds of colors and patterns, some of which I wouldn’t have even thought she would like.  The amazing thing is, when a quilt is skillfully designed, even colors you might not have liked much can look beautiful in the overall pattern.

California Girl - unquiltedThe other thing I have found very interesting is the way all the parts of the quilt-making process go together.  I remember one quilt she made from a set of fabrics called “California Girl.”  I thought the way the front was put together was nice, but I just didn’t feel all that crazy about the fabrics.  However, when it came back from the quilter and when my wife had bound the edges, it was amazing to me how different it looked.  California Girl - QuiltedI’m not even sure why, but somehow the texture of the quilting made something that had looked a little insipid to me be bold and perky.

So why am I talking about this?  I must admit that I liked the idea of doing a posting where I could show off some of the beautiful quilts my wife has done or is working on.  Also, the whole thing made me think of the way God puts his people together into families, churches, and other units.  He can take people that we might not even like much and weave them into a big, beautiful pattern.

checkerboard quiltThis is why I think we need to be careful about disparaging people who are sincerely following Christ, even if we have strong disagreements with them.  Are you a conservative, protestant evangelical?  Don’t be quick to write off that charismatic Catholic.  Are you an intellectual in a thoughtful, hipster church?  Don’t say sneering things about the people who go to that old-time fundamentalist church.  Like an expert quilter, God can take all these different pieces and make them into something amazing and beautiful.  We tend to be scared of variety, but I believe he loves it.

fraternal twin quilts

bold quilt