As beginner quilters, one of the first things we usually want to do is make quilts for friends and family. We get to refine our new skills and give joy to those we care about. In my early years, I gave away 11 of the 22 quilts I had made. I learnt a few life lessons about making quilts for others that you might find useful before embarking on the project. Keep in mind that I have nothing against making a quilt for someone else under the right circumstances!
The first and most important one is that once you give a quilt, you must let go of it—100%. It may have taken you hundreds of hours to make, you used your most beloved fabrics or consider it an heirloom quilt but once it’s out of your hands, it may be treated like any other blanket. There are stories out there of such quilts that were used for picnic blankets, the baby may have used it as a food bowl or the cat peed on it and it needs a wash. You just chuck it in with the rest of the clothes, right? Insert horrified gasp here…
Be prepared to accept that someone else’s choice in colours, pattern and design may not light your heart on fire. You love the person dearly, but can you invest the amount of time, heart and soul into something that just isn’t you? Think about it carefully before you answer. If you can do it, I suggest making it as quickly as possible. I decided after several quilts that no matter how much someone wanted a quilt, I would teach them how to make it themselves. It’s funny how they didn’t want a quilt so badly after that.
If you do end up agreeing to teach someone, set some rules for the project. You teach them, they do the work. So many quilters end up doing the work and it may breed resentment because this wasn’t how it was supposed to go but you don’t want to say anything because they are your friend—yet they are getting away with it! I suggest sewing your own project whilst taking time out to teach them.
If you decide you’ll choose the colours, style and design to save your sanity (after all, they wouldn’t have chosen you to make it for them if they didn’t like your style, right?) be prepared that you may receive an honest opinion on the finished product if their tastes are different to your own. Another scenario is that you’ll get a fake thanks of appreciation and they put it in the cupboard and wait awhile before re-gifting it. They may, of course, love it with all their heart. Let’s hope it’s the latter!
I admire people who use their quilting time to make quilts for others, I just found it wasn’t really for me. I felt like I’d given away enough and that I got into making quilts for me and if others wanted one, they’d put the time and effort into making one. I had so many quilts I wanted to make for me that if I kept going on the path I’d started, I wouldn’t have time to achieve my goals. I don’t feel that this is a selfish position, it just isn’t right for everybody. Making quilts for charity may be a different story. There may be size restrictions but the design and colour choices may be left up to you.
Have a go if you feel that is what you want to do. It may be the richest blessing in your life to give that joy to a loved one. Each case may be a different set of circumstances too, so don’t rule out making them altogether if you have a bad experience.
When I learnt to machine quilt, I needed quilt tops to practice on. The first one I made I gave to my almost blind grandmother. She loved it, but now that she’s gone, someone else on that side of the family may have it in their possession…and their eyesight will be better!
Ah, let it go, girl…