Quilting is a Gift

David defines quilting as cutting up perfectly good pieces of fabric into small pieces and sewing them together again. Of course I think it’s way more than that.

One thing I’ve come to realize about quilting is that it’s mostly a gift culture.  A gift culture is a very special way of exchanging items. Things are not bartered, traded or sold, but rather given away, without an agreement for immediate or future reward. (Excluded from this are the vast sums spent in fabric stores by quilters adding to their ‘stash’.)

Very often finished quilts are given away to friends, family or community. And frequently fabric, equipment, and, in particular, knowledge and ideas, are shared freely with quilters.

I made this quilt for a friend’s baby boy, Beckham. The interesting part of the process for me was designing it on my computer using Microsoft Paint. It took only a few minutes on the computer and the final product ended up looking remarkably similar to the initial design—not always the case for my quilts which often morph as they progress.

The following quilt is made from cozy flannel that I found in Arizona and is unlike anything I’d seen here in Canada or on-line. I had in mind the cabin belonging to our friends and neighbours, John and Jorge, when I bought it. It was perfect, in a rustic cottagey kind of way.

At the time I thought I was making a quilt entirely different from the batik paper-pieced quilt that preceded it (pictured in my November 2016 guest blog). After having the new flannel for a short while I realized with surprise that the colour scheme was exactly the same as the batiks’.

I don’t always use patterns as I usually prefer to design my own quilts. However this twister’ pattern appealed to me and seemed perfect for the flannel. A special cutting ruler is needed for it—a fellow quilter was happy to lend me hers.

A cushion for my friend, Pat, and another for my daughter, Emily, were two smaller quilting projects.






The quilt below is a special one made for an island mom when her new baby was born. Grandma distributed squares to twelve of us to quilt in a mom and baby animal theme. Cooperative quilts like these have been made quite a few times to celebrate island events.

My very first quilt included Sashiko stitching (shown in the previous blog). I am still intrigued with this stitching so there  is  a new quilt in the works for which I have done some very non-traditional Sashiko work and purchased some authentic Japanese fabric.

Thanks to my old (length of friendship not age!) friend, Joy, http://www.avintagegreen.com/ I am the proud owner of a Singer Featherweight sewing machine. Joy is an antique dealer who found this machine and generously gifted it to me—I will be eternally grateful. It is the premier sewing machine for quilters as it is light to carry and clicks along stitching a perfect stitch year after year. Mine was made in 1952, the year I was born, so I feel a special affinity for it.

The older hand-operated Singer (below) was perfect when David and I lived on boats many years ago. I could repair sails easily, even if we were under way. It was a gift from another friend who was clearing out his parent’s home. Even though it comes with a lovely wood carrying case it is not remotely portable—it weighs a ton.

The sewing machine I use as much as the Featherweight is a trusty Jenome. I don’t know its age but it’s at least 20 years old. I bought it when my daughter’s school was replacing their machines. I have no plans to get a new computerized model.

This quilting table (with the beginnings of a quilt for David and my first grandchild laid out on it!) was a gift from a fellow islander when a family member, who was an avid quilter, died. I never met her but I have been told stories, by her friends, of a vibrant and outgoing woman. I feel that I am getting to know her a little by using her things and I think of her often when I’m sewing.

In my first guest blog I left readers with a request  to help give my quilt “Walking On Sunshine” movement and life. I took some of your suggestions to heart and did a lot of hand-quilting in turquoise on the quilt. It gives it new vibrancy and texture to the point that I now really like it. I like it so much, in fact, that I recently gave it to a friend whose name it seemed to be calling.

As you can see, I have gifted quilts and received equipment and more. But by far the greatest gift to me has been from the women of the Quadra Quilting Guild that I joined two years ago. They have all graciously shared their extensive knowledge and expertise, patiently answering my never-ending questions and Michelle even tuned up my Featherweight for me! They exemplify the gifting society. Maybe David will be willing to amend his definition of quilting?


22 thoughts on “Quilting is a Gift

  1. amazing quilt patterns .
    Just dont let Dave get too close to the Singer….he may end up as a “feature” on one of your quilts.


    • The only time David ventures into the quilting area is as the aesthetics consultant when I am laying out squares. He’s excellent at getting the best distribution of colours. I’ve met other quilters whose husbands do this. Michael?


    • Thanks, Michael! You don’t look like a quilter. Oh, but David just told me your wife is. I’d love to see her quilts…


  2. The sashiko stitching is amazing. I saw a 30 minute show on Japanese television a month or so ago from the area that made it famous.
    I dont have the patience for untangling a bloody fishing reel, let alone the eyesight for intricate stitch work like that!

    Which makes one wonder…..How boring is my life when I’m drinking beer and fascinated with an undubbed japanese tv show about needlepoint?


    • That settles it for me! If we are THAT predictable that the bloody CBC can do a documentary on us, it is time to switch out, change the diapers and go down a new fork in the road. Bloody ‘ell. So…..? What’s it gonna be next? Living underwater? Genetically change to be East Indians? Mutate an extra arm?
      I DO NOT want some dickhead CBC producer anticipating my next move!
      Where do we go from here?


      • CBC, such a travesty, today imagine, Duncan McCue, full time host of this iconic call in show, cross country checkup saying,, Christopher Hitchens ,,?? never heard of him. Nevermind Duncans’ mom is/was a high school librarian, sorry I don’t give rats a–, about political correctness, nothing is real anymore in 2017 with Justin as our head of state, And CBC leading the crying game, for the likes of Musqueam with a per capita net worth of how much,??


        • Christopher Hitchens, “I became a journalist partly, so that I wouldn’t ever have to rely on the press for my information.” This was said I suppose wryly from behind his ironic mask. “Cross Country Check Up” offers some sort of public access for the sharing of reminiscences, myths, ideas and ideals of many stripes of trutherism. Rex Murphy, former host of ‘Check Up’, was a loquacious mansplainer freely giving his views about photogenic politicians and folks lacking the right stuff. Duncan McCue’s truth list consists of six books that made a differences Hitchens is not on the list but probably is on Rex’s summer reading list.


          • well I think I believe you now about the six followers, fwiw that baby is the finest looking speciman I recall seeing maybe forever, little guy got dealt a good hand


          • Yeah, cute kid. Parents look like models. Mother actually was. Worse, they are smart, rich, young and very good people. Basically, they make Giselle and Tom Brady look like dogs.


    • Interesting! I’m the only regular quilter on our off the grid islands that I know of. A few others might make the odd quilt and one friend who quilts is here for a number of weeks in the summer when we get to compare notes.
      Rachel spins and knits–her husband Roger knits like a mad fiend and teaches all the school kids. There is sewing going on, as you can see by the baby quilt picture. We also have painters, poets, writers, sculptors, musicians, woodworkers such as boat builders, instrument makers, and birdhouse fabricators, and I’m probably barely touching the surface of the many crafts and hobbies around here.


  3. Hi Sally

    You have embraced quilting and you are sharing such happy and vibrant quilts with friends everywhere. I remember the thrill when I finished my first small quilt and how much I learned by doing. I hope you will write more guest posts (including gardening and the work to get the space, soil, building etc – all with photos added). I also hope that you have another quilt post after you finish your planned and current quilts.




  4. My great aunt had a Singer Featherweight but I don’t know what happened to it. My mom was an avid seamstress, making all of our clothes for years. She once told me that sewing skipped generations. My great grandmother made a living sewing and doing handwork back in Norway. My grandmother didn’t sew much, maybe because she was a farmer’s wife with too many chores. I never got the knack of it even after having been forced to take home economics classes back in the day. I never tested the theory though. I never had any kids to see if any of them would love sewing. I’m more of the craft type. Right now I painting a large rock into a lady bug to put on our new front dock. It is a little too high on one end so some rock art will help even it out in the water. Loved your post. Just got my copy of David’s new book “Choosing Off the Grid” in the mail today. Thanks for sending it my way. – Margy


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