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A Quilt Like My Marriage

I started making a quilt for our king-sized bed two years ago. I made it extra large. My husband and I wrestled over the blankets in our sleep, and one of us usually woke up uncovered and cold. I researched the dimensions, bought the batting and started sewing. I used a quilt top that I had sewn together when we were dating as the central part. I bought barely used sheets at the thrift store to cut up and use for borders and the backing.

To select the fabric for my quilt, I carefully chose colors that complimented the center blocks I already pieced together. I only used 100% cotton fabric, as that is the strongest and warmest material for quilting. I was very picky about this quilt because it would be the central décor piece for the bedroom I shared with my husband.

I finished the quilt top, pieced together the back from two large sheets, and did all the quilting on a standard short-arm sewing machine. Because it was an oversize quilt, this was an insane amount of work. It was tedious and time-consuming. It made my wrist hurt. It was difficult to do with my five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son underfoot.

I put the partly-finished quilt into my fabric bin and stopped working on it several times. Eventually, I became too pregnant with our third child to dedicate much time to finish it. I became discouraged with its lack of progress, suddenly decided the colors were too bold and realized I hated the whole thing.

What was I supposed to do with the almost-finished blanket, then? It was too late in the game to send it to a professional quilter with a long-arm sewing machine to finish stitching for me. It wasn’t possible to shrink it down. It was way too late to change the colors of the fabric.

I realized my only option, if I truly didn’t like the quilt and didn’t want to spend any more time bringing it to completion, was to throw it away. I could take this blanket that I had dedicated hundreds of hours to making and stuff it in the dumpster. I carefully selected only pure, natural fibers for the top, backing, and batting materials, and they would all wind up in the landfill, never to be used as an object of warmth and comfort.

Then I realized that the quilt was like my marriage. Seven years ago, I started off as a brand-new bride, nothing but raw material and enthusiasm. I learned on the job to communicate with my husband when I was upset, just like I learned to sew straight lines on unmarked stretches of fabric while quilting my giant blanket. There were plenty of crooked stitches and a few thread snarls on the back, but those weren’t reasons to throw the whole quilt away. I wouldn’t toss out my marriage over a few harsh words spoken in anger or a couple of bounced checks.

I finished the quilt after the baby was born. It lays on our bed, and the kids love running their hands over the textured fabric I painstakingly created using my regular old sewing machine on our kitchen table. It is imperfect but worth finishing, just like my marriage.



About Ann Henry

Ann Henry lives in rural America with her husband and three small kids. She manages their household and is the children's primary caretaker. She freelance writes for various publications as a part-time vocation.

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