What Quilts Mean (& Orange Peels FO)

What Quilts Mean Header

Wow, guys. This quilt has been a long time coming. It’s been through a lot. I started planning this project last August, and started really sewing sometime in September, so it’s been over eight months in the making. And not just any old eight months.

Orange Peels Quilt

While I was finally quilting, sitting at the sewing machine for hours on end, the quilt passing under my hands, I thought a lot about what it means to me. What making it meant to me while I worked through the first eight months of grieving for my mother.

Orange Peels Quilt

In a very literal way, this quilt helped me work through the first steps of this seemingly never-ending process. The hand-stitching of appliqu├ęd orange peels is a beautifully mindless process, allowing me to shut down my brain while keeping busy at the same time. And sharing the steps and my progress with you all gave me the vehicle to interact online again, before I was really ready to talk about casual stuff. Every bit of this project helped me inch forward in some little way.

Orange Peels Quilt

This quilt has been a distraction, a comfort, and a friend. As I guided it through the machine, I thought about the actual tears that have soaked into its fabrics over the last eight months, and I wondered if it’s like the Sword of Gryffindor: what it absorbs only makes it stronger. Will it hold on to all of those feelings for me?

Orange Peels Quilt

One thing I know for sure: this quilt is not just a blanket. And the moment I thought that to myself, I knew it was true of all quilts. We don’t make quilts because they keep us warm. For most of us, we don’t need to do that at all. We could go buy a blanket for a fraction of the cost at our local department store. I’m forever saying that I love how quilts are allowed to be, symbolically, a little corny. We join fabrics that symbolize special people or times in our lives. We sew together to symbolize a sense of community or bond between the makers. We quilt to celebrate special occasions or meaningful events.

It’s clear that making quilts means something to us, and (hopefully) to the people who use them. To me, my orange peels quilt was something like an amour – to both protect me from and insulate me in my grief. And for the rest of my life, it will remind me of a comfort that I can’t quite put into words. There is a sort of comfort in sadness, when you feel broken-hearted – and this quilt will contain that for me, forever.

Orange Peels Quilt

I’ve invited a handful of fellow quilters to share their thoughts on the meaning of quilts. I’ve asked them to prepare a post, in any form or style they want, with the title, “What Quilts Mean” and I will share their responses over the coming weeks, or maybe months, or until I run out of contributions. I was overjoyed that they wanted to join me in this little project, though I know so many have thought about this topic from a million different perspectives – I can’t wait to hear some from our online community. I really hope you all enjoy the series!

8 Comments on What Quilts Mean (& Orange Peels FO)

  1. RxQuilter
    May 8, 2015 at 13:55 (2 years ago)

    Beautiful quilt and the story it holds. Your post is spot on. Fabric and quilts are snapshots of history and memories, happy and sad.

    Reply
  2. wendy
    May 8, 2015 at 15:14 (2 years ago)

    What a gorgeous quilt it turned out to be. I am so touched by your post and the meaning behind this quilt.

    Reply
  3. Zoe
    May 8, 2015 at 17:21 (2 years ago)

    This post brought some tears to my eyes. Beautiful quilt.

    Reply
  4. sophie
    May 9, 2015 at 08:43 (2 years ago)

    Gorgeous words Julie x

    Reply
  5. Kay
    May 9, 2015 at 12:59 (2 years ago)

    I loved this post. I have an EPP hexagon quilt that I am sewing very slowly, and I will always remember that part of it was sewn while I was looking after my dad last year while he had terminal cancer. I never sew just to make product, there is always a reason, maybe just to make a special gift but that is still a good reason. x

    Reply
  6. Karen
    May 9, 2015 at 18:51 (2 years ago)

    Beautiful, Julie. Just beautiful.
    xxxxx

    Reply
  7. Rebecca Bell
    May 15, 2015 at 09:25 (2 years ago)

    Aww Julie it turned out so beautifully and all those memories stitched into it too. Lovely quilt and lovely post xxx

    Reply
  8. Pam
    June 30, 2015 at 16:50 (2 years ago)

    Love this quilt. And the story! Quilting has been my solace for years, so very comforting.

    Reply

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