Monday, September 17, 2012

How to Teach a Man to Quilt

Sometimes, you can spend a year getting to know people, and not really know them until you see them outside their comfort-zone, challenged somehow. For some of our friends, recently, that challenge was learning to make a quilt.

I'd volunteered, a few months ago, to make three child-sixed quilts to be given to the first group of Ghanian children rescued by Mercy Project from slavery. The first two came together quickly from my fabric pile, but for the third, I really wanted to try involving a group of our friends (who are, incidentally, 95% male) in the experience. 

Initially, the plan was simply to have the group cut squares out of fabric -- a fool-proof way to get everyone, no matter their sewing experience, to take part. However, these chaps are pretty creative: musicians, philosophers, more INFJs than you could dare to hope for. So it seemed a bit of a waste to have them simply serve as manual labour!

Instead, I cut and prepared the fabric in advance -- supplies for a basic log-cabin quilt. Twenty-five 8" squares, and a large pile of 3" wide strips, of various lengths (mostly cut from men's shirts).

The group, instead, was in charge of piecing the blocks together. The simplest construction: lay one strip along the edge of one block, pin it, and pass it along to be sewn. (I sewed each seam, it was ironed, and then passed back to them to add a second, third, and then fourth side).

(Here's our two-year-old electronics-expert manning the sewing machine)

So this is where I saw the true colours of our friends -- there wasn't one moan, one joke, one sigh over doing something girly. We put on some Flight of the Conchords music, and it was as natural as if we'd been sitting around playing cards. Okay, there were a few complaints that the only decent scissors I have are left-handed, and a little squabbling over blocks as they came back from the sewing machine ("That one was MINE!" "Don't put that yellow on there -- I wanted it all BLUE!"), but in a lovely, enthusiastic-about-what-we're-doing sort of way.

And so, within an hour, we had twenty-five completed blocks -- amazing! I simply joined them all together the next day, added a simple backing, and there you have it -- a community-effort at quilting.

Here are all three quilts (in need of an iron!), ready to join Mercy Project as they set off for Ghana next Wednesday!


Naturally Carol said...

Fabulous result! I adore those pictures of the men at work and their looks of concentration as they sew. Those people in Ghana are getting a real treat.

Loreal said...

Amazing! You know how much I appreciate stories like this. ;-)

Heather Toepfer said...

That is a great idea!!!

monique's mess said...

what a lovely effort and so organized. i wonder have they offered to come back again.

clearly inspired said...

I am an INFJ. Just learning to sew an stumbled upon your blog! pretty quilt! :)

clearly inspired said...

I am an INFJ. Just learning to sew an stumbled upon your blog! pretty quilt! :)

ann said...

I had to read 'teach a man to quilt ' aloud to my husband. We were both laughing at the thought of the arguments about whose block was whose, what colour was being added next.... What a terrific idea and suc a fantastic quilt which resulted. Good on you girl.