I could not think of a more appropriate title for this post. Life Lessons Through Quilting says it all.
Recently, my ten year old daughter had it in her head that she wanted to make a quilt. Though I was excited about her new interest, I was also a little bit nervous. I was nervous because I wouldn’t be able to help her. You see, I’m not the kind of mom who is gifted when it comes to crafting. To be honest, though I took a Home Economics class in high school, I still don’t know how to even use a sewing machine, let alone operate one! Sure, I can sew by hand and mend clothing if I have to, but help my kid make a quilt? Yikes!
The township was offering quilting classes and Little One just had to join. Not only were they making quilts, but some of her best friends were taking the classes too. My mom had gifted her sewing machine to Little One, so she was good to go.
The first classes were filled with highs, excitement, and a sense of accomplishment. The girls were taught how to use their machines and other sewing tools like the rotor cutter. They measured and cut out their squares, all under the guidance of their amazing instructor, Jackie White.
I say that life lessons can be learned through quilting, because this experience has taught Little One about persistence and determination. Quilting has also taught her about having her ducks in a row, and to measure twice and cut once.
My child is a perfectionist and we have learned over the past few years that she won’t even do something if she thinks she won’t excel at it. It’s not so much of a defeatist attitude, but more of a not wanting to be imperfect. We have seen that if she doesn’t feel like she can do something well, she just won’t do it. She is extremely hard on herself, though my husband and I do not pressure her to be perfect. In fact, we often have conversations with her about not having to try to be perfect. We tell her that in life, we learn through our mistakes. We actually have to make mistakes in order to learn. Life is about falling, picking yourself up again, trying again and again, and learning how to do things a different way if the previous ways didn’t work.
The kids were asked to have their quilt tops done over the weekend so they could assemble their quilts on the final day of class. Let me tell you what a roller coaster of a ride the weekend was!
Little One had miscalculated some of her measurements and her squares weren’t all the same size. We had some larger than others. Then her sewing machine kept acting up on her and at several times, stopped working all together! There were times the thread kept jamming up and she would have to take out the bobbin from inside and untangle the thread. The mechanism wasn’t working correctly and then we didn’t replace it properly. It was frustrating to say the least.
There were a lot of tears on the weekend.
When Little One sewed her rows together, the squares didn’t line up. Little One was frustrated. She cried and said she wasn’t good at anything and she can’t do anything right. I told her that this is her first quilt, and she had never done anything like this before. I told her that she is ten years old, and she made a quilt! I’m forty-three and I have never made a quilt in my life! She should be proud that she can do something her mama doesn’t know how to do.
Regardless of whether the quilt has wonky squares or if the rows aren’t in total alignment, the quilt will be beautiful and special, because she made it!
The most challenging lesson for Little One has been learning that she needs to stop striving for perfection, as it is unattainable, and it will make every learning experience a negative one. I pointed out that she thoroughly enjoyed learning how to use her sewing machine and she enjoyed the process of quilting. I told her to focus on the process and all the little achievements to get to the final product. She is only ten years old and it’s her first quilt. She needs to stop expecting perfection. It’s good to set goals and do one’s best, but to place such high expectations are hard to live up to.
This experience has taught Little One a lot. One can learn so much from quilting. Even I learned how to operate a sewing machine!