Piecing things together… quilts and stories


Stored on a shelf downstairs there’s a box labelled “Quilt”. It contains one of the two patchwork quilts I began making thirty-four years ago. Its face is done – various pink and white multi-sized gingham squares alternating with plain pink ones. I have this sweet fabric sprigged with pink flowers for its backing.


Originally there was enough fabric for a second quilt, but it became obvious many years ago that I wasn’t going to get one quilt finished, never mind a second, so the extra fabric was eventually given away.

I had great ambitions, but I’m not a quilter at heart. I don’t have the patience to do all the piecing, the painstaking stitching together of multi layers, locking polyester padding between the colourful cottons.  I wish I did, because I admire the finished works of art.

Quilt designed and made by Ellen Lewis - a retirement gift from our church choir. The theme reflects a combination of music with leisure time at our cabin, and my DH's love of hunting and the outdoors. (Click to enlarge photo)

I know a few very talented quilters who love what they do and find the process soothing. It only exasperates me.

For the perfect quilt, every piece of fabric and every stitch must be placed “just so” to comply with the pattern, or the end result will look slipshod or chaotic. It’s a little like piecing together a novel from an outline … which is probably why I’m more of a seat-of-my-pants novelist.

Deciding on a theme, choosing the colours and fabrics, and beginning to cut out swatches … these all resemble my novels’ initial stages since they get a certain amount of forethought and pre-planning. But during the actual writing I don’t do well when it comes to staying within a rigid outline. Of course some might think the end result would be better if I did, but no one has suggested that … yet.

Are you a quilter? A novelist who follows plot outlines? How do you reconcile the concept of using stringent control to produce something creative?

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Good friends are like quilts – they age with you yet never lose their warmth.  [Author Unknown]