Sewing in time

April 13, 2014

Yes, more musings on time and craft. Thank you for your contributions and perspectives on time too…very thought provoking.

In retrospect, I think I was a little hasty in suggesting that the meaning of craft lay only in the process or time spent making rather than the object itself. Upon consideration, I reckon the made object itself becomes imbued with time-related meanings and becomes in effect, an artefact of time.  Bear with me as I muddle this through.

This is my last year at home with Our Dear Girl.  Next year she is off to school.  Although she goes to kindergarten, we still have a couple of days a weeks just for her and I.  We ride our bikes, visit friends, cook, garden, play mums and dads, schools, exploring and of course make things.

On one of our days at home, I was putting away some bits and pieces of fabric destashed from a friend, when Our Dear Girl decided she would like a ‘beautiful patchwork quilt’ for her dolly.  I love these moments and what the kids think is possible in an afternoon with zero experience.

IMG_2094She started pulling out bits from the scrap bin and I let her choose some things from my stash too. Then we grouped them into piles of similar colours and got rid of non-cottons and other odd scraps.  I know nothing about quilting except what I have read on real quilters blogs so we just winged it.

IMG_2097I cut out strips and then she and I sewed them together.  We ironed them and that was all we got done that day.  But Our Dear Girl was so excited she carried those bits around and showed her brother and her dad as soon as they got home, declaring them her beautiful patchwork quilt.

IMG_2100That night I cut them into wedges and sewed the wedges together.  I was hoping for hexagons but didn’t realise just how much fabric you need. So I sewed in the reversed wedges as well and made, well, nuclear radiation symbols! Oops!

We used an old worn out cloth nappy as the wadding and a favourite worn out pillow case as the backing.  Then over the next couple of nights, I sewed the quilting lines.

IMG_2109Done…much loved and carried about. Our Dear Boy wants one too. My thoughts are turning to something bigger, a quilt for an actual-sized boy perhaps.


IMG_2106In this tiny quilt, made of her most beautiful, favourite and lowly fabrics, is stitched my last year with Our Dear Girl, our spontaneous projects, our open days, our playing, our making and that bitter-sweet feeling that a profound joy will inevitably end.

Recently, Betsy wrote of this very phenomenon in her Craftivism blog,

As lovers of things handmade, I think we are lucky to appreciate the work that goes into them, as they hold traces not just of the hands that made them, but of the people themselves.

In this way, craft work can be seen as preserving time. Hand made items preserve time in the same way that fruit is preserved as jam, not as the unchanged strawberry or plum fresh plucked, but as something cooked and processed to preserve the taste of summer.  Hand made items embody both the hours of making (time) and memories and feelings of people (the times) within the construction of the object…a true cultural artefact.




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  1. Oh yes , handmade items contain memories of time spent. I love your little dolls quilt and it warmed my heart to hear of dear girl sharing her patchy pieces with her brother and dad. I then I laughed to hear that you’ll be making another because I know only too well how addictive quilting can be, it rarely stops with one.

  2. Those patchwork quilts are a winner! Never fear, there are always those endless school holidays. Lulu ‘patchworked’ herself a quilt over last September hols. Using squares stitched into strips and then joined. She sewed them herself on my Grandma’s machine, the same one I learnt to sew on (Yes, much joy for me in that!) A week away by myself at the beach house was not entirely spent working on the Thesis – I was able lay the quilt out and stitch all the layers together, on the vast open floor space. The quilt is now proudly displayed on her bed – sometimes you can even see it despite all the toys and clothes dumped on top!

  3. I Never would have thought of the pattern as nuclear radiation symbols!!! How funny. I loved that she picked out the pieces, makes it very special. And you did a nice job. Speaking of time, again :), I like the process of making things so if it takes a ‘long’ time, so be it.

  4. your thoughts really hit home with me this morning. I come from a family of makers. My sisters and I learned to knit and sew at my Mother’s knee. each of us continue take joy from our fiber every day. this week I am at my Mother’s house caring for her. even though she has stage 4 cancer she still works and knits each day making hats and mittens for her kids and grandkids. on this visit I brought 2 quilts with me for Mom to use. the large one was made by my daughter as a present for me. the smaller one is one I made when she taught me to quilt. the sewing isn’t exact but preserved within the seams are pieces of the dresses and shirts my family wore and even some bits of clothing belonging to my Nana. My Mom carefully traced the fabrics with her fingers after I unwrapped it and we talked about when the different dresses were worn and who she had made them for. She was surprised I still had this little scrap quilt after all these years.
    the stitches we make today are little time capsules for the future.

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