Friday, October 12, 2018

Quilt #25 :: Purple Mess (If Brain Injury was a Quilt)


As they say in my native Minnesota, uff da! At the time of this post, I have made 116 quilts. I'm going back and writing posts about all the quilts I've made. For some reason, in 2014 and 2015, I didn't write much about my quilts. I really can't remember why. Most likely my brain injury was acting up and I didn't have the words. So now I'm going through my notes and photos to make a more thorough record. 

Below is the inspiration for my 25th quilt, which I'm retroactively calling Purple Mess because it doesn't have my name on it and I'm pretty sure that whoever received it won't come looking for me!


See how pretty and cheerful it is? It was made by Megan of Jaffa Quilts. And easy peasy, just a few half square triangles and four patches. And yet, I made the Purple Mess.

I almost skipped writing about this quilt altogether because I'm not at all happy with how it turned out. I don't love all the quilts I've made, but this one is definitely my least favorite.

It's more like a case study of all the ways a quilt can go wrong.

I wanted a nice pretty purple quilt because I knew it would be going to a kindergartner at a local school and purple is my favorite color. But my fabric selection was off, despite it looking all right when I planned it out online.
I had the idea of making an extra fluffy quilt by using two layers of batting. The batting donated to our quilt group is the polyester type, which I no longer use because it's so unwieldy. But definitely a very high loft.


I attempted to echo quilt, but apparently, I didn't use a ruler, tape, or anything to keep my lines straight. Yikes. I think maybe I was going through a rough brain patch but was determined to have a quilt to donate with my group.


Now, see that big heart? That's actually my favorite part of the quilt because it was the first time I tried applique.


But if you look on the right you'll see what prompted my willingness to try applique:  I was trying to cover up a wrinkle in the back!

In hindsight, I'm kind of wishing I would have scrapped the whole thing. It's far from perfect, and it's far from my best work. I'm really conflicted about it.

But then, as I was looking at the notes I kept from the quilt, I found this newspaper article.


It's a little hard to read, but I was interviewed by the local paper about our group's visit with the kindergartners who received our quilts. I talk about my brain injury and how it causes me to be someone who needs a lot of help.

One of the biggest misconceptions about living with a disability is that every day should be a bad day. I do have bad days. A lot of them. Not as many as I did when I was first recovering, or before we found the medical protocol that works best for me. But I still have 5-7 days a month when I spend the majority of the day in bed. I have good days, too. Days when I can cook, and organize, run errands and make plans. Days I can be around others and socialize for a bit. And days where I can quilt.

Quilting lets me be a giver again. Finding that outlet has been life-giving to my soul.

Looking back at this newspaper clipping, two things come to mind. First, I remember that my mom was there. After watching me struggle for the first decade of living with my brain injury, I was so proud that she was able to see me be strong.

Secondly, look at the face of the little girl on the right.


Goodness! My heart is a puddle. Clearly, she picked a quilt other than mine, but that is about the best response a quilter can hope for when making a quilt. It reminds me of the two quilts I loved best as a child and still love today.

One was a crazy quilt a neighbor made for my mom's family. It has wild patterns and prints that I would have turned my nose up at if Mom gave me clothes made with any of them. And it had holes with batting poking through where it wasn't tied down with bright red yarn. But I loved it because it smelled my Gramma's house and made a great fort roof. I used to snuggle with it in my secret hideaway under the stairs. When I was feeling sad or angry or lonely, this was the quilt I wanted. Many angsty teenage tears are soaked into this quilt. It also has a really great lost and found story I need to write up before I forget it. This picture was taken after my mom and husband searched all the shops in town to track down the quilt after Mom accidentally sold it in a garage sale. 


The other quilt is the big Budweiser quilt that was given to my stepdad when he was a teen. Just two huge pieces of Budweiser print tied together with fluffy polyester batting. When my parents divorced, I took it with me. For years I used it as a sleeping bag because it has the magical quality of being warm when you are cold, and cool when it's hot out. It was a big joke with my friends because I rarely drink and have never had a beer. But I love this quilt. It's family memories, it's loss of that family unit, it's fun with friends in my early 20s, and it's cozy movie nights with my family. I don't care what it looks like. I love the feelings it evokes.


I don't know who received my Purple Mess quilt. I pray and hope that whoever has it can see it the way I see the crazy quilt and Budweiser quilt I cherish. I hope that she can look past the mistakes and feel the love that was sewn into every crooked stitch. 

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4 comments:

  1. I am sure the child that got the purple mess loved it! Children don't see how it is sewn, they just love the feel of it as you did with those two memory quilts. I love the retrieved garage sale on. Really vintage!!

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  2. I bet one of the kindergartners loved that Purple Mess between its colors and puffiness! :) I really love your story of what quilting means for you, personally, in giving you a way to give back to others when you've had to rely on so much help in your own life. What an important, fundamental need - to be useful and kind to others. You do a marvelous job of that.

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  3. LOVE that heart shaped label!! Good idea to go back in time and make blog posts for your pre-blog quilts.

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