The doll quilt above was made by my maternal grandmother in 1932 as a Christmas present for my mother.I put it up as Exhibit A and ask that you note the uneven red squares in the log cabin pattern and the unmatched edges of the four big squares. She would have hand sewn all this from used clothing by the lamp light in the evening. I am thrilled to have it and my mother’s memories of it.
Exhibit B is a purchased antique quilt. The hand quilting is quite spectacular in this double wedding ring quilt top but what I am asking you to notice is that the purple and pink corners don’t quite match at the binding edge. Overall though this is not what you notice when you look at this old work of art with such intense beautiful colours.
Exhibit C is a modern paper piece place mat and I point out that the very top triangle is cut off slightly with the binding. This was a brand new technique for me but I expected to “nail it” the first time I attempted it.
Exhibit D is a modern table runner that has all corners matching perfectly but I ask that you notice some of my stitching in the ditch (quilting lines) are not exactly in the ditch as I strayed a little; perhaps due to excessive speed while sewing or a slight lapse in concentration.
Now the point of all this is to notice that the errors in the old quilts seem to add character and we are willing to “cut the quilters” some slack because they worked by hand, without modern conveniences and in less than optimum conditions. Ourselves, on the other hand, must do the job perfectly or we will rip it out until we make it so. Our modern world seems to demand that we provide only the best and that we do it instantly. In this day and age of disposable replaceable items and instant access to everything we fail to stop and recognize quality and craftsmanship. You can relate this to quilting, meals, our attire and certainly our abodes. It applies to our jobs, careers and our personal space.
So I think it is time to recognize that we are all individuals doing our best with what we have at this point in time. Perhaps in a hundred years when my grandchildren or great-grandchildren look at the quilt I bound tonight they will recognize the time, energy and commitment that went into making this article rather than criticizing the fact that occasionally my sewing line wiggled a little (darn that lack of speed control!). It’s time to let our expectations become realistic within the realm of what our abilities and time allow and not expect perfection. Character is equally as important.