Making a quilt as a gift is more than just a way to warm the heart. It’s an act of meaning.
It is magical to be part of a tradition that has been passed down through the centuries. Quilting’s history is filled with stories, untold hours, needles, thread, and cloth.
From a practical perspective, it makes no sense that quilts are still made. Consider the entire process of making a quilt. It involves cutting large pieces of fabric into smaller pieces that can be sewn together to make a larger piece. Even in the 21st century, bedding can be found in almost infinite options and often costs far less than it does to make a quilt. This is why quilting continues to thrive.
Although some might question the necessity of quilting is based on material, it is clear that quilting today is more than a practical art. Quilts are no longer needed to keep warm or survive harsh winters. However, quilts can be used to fulfill other needs, which may require less material.
Every quilt is a culmination of many hours of hard work and creative thinking. When we hold a quilt we can’t help but feel and see the effort of others. It is important to take a moment to reflect on the nature of quilts. Our quilts invariably resensitize our senses to the greater world.
We give quilts as gifts for reasons beyond sharing our work and offering warmth. Every quilt is a binding act between the giver and the receiver. The quilt acts as an invisible thread that connects the maker and the recipient, no matter how far they may travel. The maker enters the room symbolically every time I use one of the quilts that were given to me.
A quilt gift is an act to love, not because we share something we have made but because it is a request. It is an act that hopes that, despite distance, the recipient and giver will still be connected. This is why I consider quilts selfish gifts. They are just as valuable for the recipient as they are for their maker. They are a symbol of our desire to be part of another’s life, even when we cannot physically be there. When distance is a barrier between us and our loved ones, quilts can be our surrogates.
We also make quilts to be shared with our family. Many people find that the first quilt they make is a baby quilt. This is because it is the one that keeps a newborn safe, warm, and loved. The same impulses are evident in all the other quilts we make. All the quilts in our homes send the same message: You are safe, you are loved, and you are warm.
This is probably the main metaphor of the quilt. While warmth was once a literal means of protecting against the elements, it is now a symbolic symbol of protection. Our desire to protect others is a reflection of our love for them. Quilts are not only a tether for those far away, but also act as insulation from the uncertainties and difficulties of the outside world.
These quilts are a way to protect and wrap up loved ones. Although we realize that we can’t physically wrap our loved ones and they must still be part of the big, vast world, we can offer them a refuge in the form of our quilts. These quilts can serve as symbolic shelter from the inevitable trials and tribulations. These quilts are akin to swaddling pillows, which I can see as a symbol of the same desire to protect and comfort, to hug and secure. Our love is reflected in the quilts that remain in our homes.
We make our quilts with the hope that they will be passed on to future generations. While we want our quilts to be useful now, we can’t help but notice that quilts have a long life span and may outlive us. That is the beauty of quilts. They have a life of their own, and they can endure in a world that is so fleeting.
Quilts become infused with memories as they are used: birthdays, weddings, picnics, slumber parties, and births. Quilts are subject to spills and stains that will eventually happen and remind us how integrally they have been part of our lives. These stories are part of the history that is passed on to the next generation when a quilt is passed down.
Quilts can be a testimony to the life of the quiltmaker. Quilts are a record of the life and times of the quiltmaker in thread and cloth. Quilts are a legacy that we create for future generations. They guarantee a connection over the years and even through death. Every quilt is a reminder of its maker. It suggests her presence, even when she is not there. It is not only the quilt that lasts. The quilter also outlasts time.