I have recently taken up sewing with a vengeance. I’ve sewn sporadically since junior high, although I received my first sewing machine in the third grade. As a seventh and eighth grader, I had home economics, where I made a drawstring bag and a pair of boxer shorts. I made some attempts at embroidery and a brief attempt at quilting. Several years ago I became interested in penny rugs, and I recreated this penny rug candle mat. I gave one to my best friend and one to my grandmother. After my grandmother passed away, I reclaimed the mat, which now sits on my dresser. (By the way, I just found this penny-rug-inspired wedding bouquet. I think I’m in love!)
During my divinity school years, I alternately made quite a few small carry-all bags and stuffed monsters of my own design. The latest incarnation of this creative impulse is decorative pillows in whimsical shapes. So far I have made a leaf, an apple, and a pear, and right now I am working on a commissioned piece. Sporadically I will try to sell my things, but I end up just giving them as gifts or objects of my affection to friends and family.
I always used to tell myself that sewing was a dying art that my mother practices (she made clothes and costumes for me growing up; she quilts; she sews pillows) and that my sister would carry on (she creates marvelous embroidered samplers that hang all over our house) in our family. But I have discovered that I must create things or go crazy. Well, go crazier than I am. So, I create! And, I also enjoy thinking about carrying on the tradition of sewing in my family.
Most of my crafting is done in solitude with minimal collaboration. So many networks of communication are being created every minute, but so many of those networks are virtual rather than actual or physical/tangible. Although I do not necessarily long for the days of quilting bees, I do desire to have relationships that are signified by material means (one of the reasons I like writing letters so much). I desire to create those relationships and have an object that shows how a group of people come together to create something beautiful.
Now to the point. This year’s Mormon Stories Conference, themed “Mormon Crossroads: Traversing New Paths,” includes an art show, which is open to professionals and amateurs working in all media. I would like to submit a piece, but it’s one that I’d like to be collaborative, along the lines of Relief Society album quilts of days of yore. In the next few weeks I’ll be designing a quilt, more properly an applique blanket, in the shape of the tree of life. Each leaf will be the individual creation of a different seamstress, and I’ll create a small-scale map of the tree showing who created each leaf. You buy the fabric and fashion the leaf, and we’ll sew the pieces all together on a Saturday afternoon. If you can’t be there for the quilting, you can just mail your leaf to me and I’ll add it to the quilt. If you are interested in being a part of this project, join the Mormon Stories Album Quilt Facebook group I created. There you will find the pattern (when created) and more details. Our new path will be preserving the material heritage of Relief Society sisters past and reinventing it in a digital age, a network of bloggernaccle sewers near and far. Bon courage!