Mini quilts are a thing.
I knew this, but I didn't realize just how crazy people are for mini quilts until I started seeing all kinds of swaps pop up on Instagram. (And I'm giggling now, because I never thought that I would say people were crazy about mini quilts or even quilts for that matter. But they are. They really are.) I never joined in for various reasons – too little time to spend making for someone else, deadlines looming, and, let's be honest, I didn't get it. The mini quilt craze, that is.
But then my book blew up. I spent my time knitting a dozen winter hats. I made my mom a quilt. I made two dresses, a sweatshirt and a blouse. I cut three kits worth of quilt tops and sewed 1.5 of them back together. I stitched on my needlepoint in the carpool line. All of this done in an attempt to keep my hands busy and my sanity intact. Makers gonna make and all that. What it boils down to, though, is that for the last four months, I have been going through the motions without feeling creative at all. AND I WAS OK WITH THAT. Really. Truly. OK.
What prompted it, I will never know, but when I saw that there were signups for a Cotton & Steel mini quilt swap, I didn't blink. I jumped in, reservations and nervousness aside. I got my partner pairing and began to think about what I would make. I had more than a few moments where I wondered why the hell I had done this. I wasn't feeling inspired at all. I was doubting every single idea that I had. But the deadline isn't until June so I decided to give it time. I went to Quilt Con. I participated in some classes, went to lectures, took in the quilts on display, hung out with other quilters. I came home overwhelmed, with a lot to process. I gave myself space. I returned to piecing the quilt kits. And then I saw a pattern that was promising. I started to plan how to piece it into a mini quilt and realized it wasn't very suitable. That gave me another idea. I revisited part of a pattern that would have been in my book. I adapted it, added a little improv and immediately I knew I had landed where I need to be. I got busy sewing.
I made a mini quilt. And I loved every second of it. I now totally get why people go crazy for these things. They are small, manageable and really fun to make. Maybe it is something about the small scale that makes them so fun? I don't know. But for me, every step was a delight. From searching for the right look for my partner to sewing the final stitch of the binding, it was joyful. I loved picking the fabrics and putting them in pairs. I happily cut a bunch of pieces, sewed them together, cut them again and pieced them into a top. I was giddy to applique a perfect circle to the center. I fearlessly tried a quilting pattern/method that I had never attempted. I didn't even get too upset when I had to rip some of it out. I fixed the quilting and I savored every single binding stitch.
For the first time since the book business, I enjoyed quilting. I felt like I could actually design something decent. That I had something good to say and that I could make it a reality. That my design had legs. That the creative spark was back. That I was actually good at what I love to do.
Making a mini quilt gave me joy.
Silly, maybe, but true.
While this mini was made for a swap, I have decided to keep it. I cannot let it go. I have hung it up on the wall of my studio as a visual reminder of why I do what I do. I want my eyes to take it and remember that I am good enough. I want to walk by and have the memory of making it spark even more creativity. I want to see it and push myself to create, to play, to experiment, to take myself less seriously, to think less and do more, to stretch my creative muscles. Most of all, I want to look at this mini quilt and remember to CHOOSE JOY.
I do think my partner would probably like this mini. I'll just make her another one.
This one is all me.