Tennyson wrote, “I am a part of all that I have met.”
Brooke Hampton said, “I am pieces of all the places I have been, and the people I have loved. I’ve been stitched together by song lyrics, book quotes, adventure, late night conversations, moonlight, and the smell of coffee.”
I love these truths because they explain my contradictions. I’ve had a myriad of experiences in nearly as many places. I have been blessed to meet a great many people.
And while doing so, I was often wearing jeans – the uniform of my generation.
When we moved to West Virginia and encountered the quilting legacy, I thought how neat it would be to use our old jeans to make a quilt. I immediately set to cutting up our old, worn-out, or too small jeans into 2” x 2” squares. If you’ve worked with denim at all, you know what a chore this was.
There was also the issue of bias. The jeans were well worn, washed, and dried a thousand times, and the fabric had morphed to fit the human body. It was not amenable to straight lines with a straight grain. The whole plan quickly revealed itself as undoable. Thus, I have a wicker hamper full of old jeans and 2×2-inch squares upstairs in the big closet. I can’t quite give up on the idea.
Or, I’m just too lazy to throw the whole mess out. One or the other.
I still like the idea of a quilt made of old denim infused with the memories of people, places, concerts, vacations, quiet times in the garden, exciting times with family and friends, worn and warm as a scrubbed pine floor in an old farmhouse kitchen.
When I think of all the places that denim has been, I am given to reminiscing about my life, and isn’t that the goal of a good quilt? Not just a blanket to cover a bed – we are well past the times when it is necessary to save every scrap to keep ourselves warm. No, quilts, are a form of nostalgia – either in form or material.
I am often amused at how one can buy quilt kits. How shocked our ancestors would be at buying scraps of fabric to work on for no other reason than to hang it on the wall. Art. Hobby. A past time. Not – need, necessity, opportunity.
I do want a quilt made of old denim. Nine stitches to the inch – done in the traditional method – all handsewn, one square at a time. A meditation. Maybe a hot iron could fix the bias problem. Maybe it would be okay if the quilt isn’t straight and even. Maybe I’m not ready to throw out that hamper of old denim. Not yet.
This brings me to Augsten Burroughs, “I, myself, am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” Should I ever execute this quilt, I will embroider that on one of the squares. It is, perhaps, a succinct statement of my life thus far – a quilt of determined good intentions.