A little while ago, I decided to make a quilt. Let me state upfront that I have never made a quilt before, have no idea how to make a quilt, and I don’t know how to sew. Yet, there I was, wide awake at 3 am one morning, considering the numerous pairs of old jeans currently in my closet, as one does, and wondering what to do with them. “I could make a patchwork quilt,” I decided, with the confidence of someone who has never made a patchwork quilt. But I am nothing if not determined, so here are the steps I’m following.
First, I had to decide how many squares I would need. I lay there at 3 am, doing math, and if that doesn’t tell you about my level of determination and/or boredom, I don’t know what will. So, a king-size bed is 72” wide and probably the same in length. No, I didn’t bother to actually MEASURE it at any point during this process and have yet to do so, and that’s just fine. Anyway, I need a 6 “ drop on either side, so this quilt will be 84” square. And if the patches of denim are each 4” and I have to cut them at 4 ½ so I have a hem around each one, that’s…well, I don’t know, but it’s a lot of f*cking squares. After some painful mental gymnastics, I finally resorted to using a calculator and discovered, to my horror, that I will need approximately 441 squares of denim. At first, I didn’t believe it, then I counted the number of squares on the patchwork quilt my mother-in-law made us and it was just about the same. How many pairs of jeans IS that? Am I actually going to have to buy more jeans just to make a damn quilt? Luckily, I have 14 pairs as well as a few of Kate’s old jeans, so I might be OK. Otherwise, they sell them cheap at the thrift store.
Next, I had to decide how to cut the squares. Note that at the time of this writing, I have not yet cut the squares. But when I DO, I’m going to make a cardboard template that I can trace around. Or maybe two. I need the squares to be 4” but as I said before, I need a border or something that I can sew, and it should probably be like a standard width or whatnot, because I don’t want people to think my quilt was made by an amateur.
Me: So when I make my template, should I make a big one and a small one, or a big one with holes at certain spots?
Ken: What are the holes for?
Me: So I can take a Sharpie and mark the places where the pins need to go. Ooh, I have to buy pins!
Ken: Can’t you just fold the fabric over the smaller piece of cardboard and mark it that way?
Me (scoffing): You obviously know nothing about quilting, Ken.
Now that the squares are hypothetically cut, I have to sew them together. Normally, I just use a staple gun when I work with fabric—in fact, I recovered all of our breakfast room chairs a couple of weeks ago and all I needed was a pair of scissors and a staple gun. At first, I figured I could just hand-sew the squares, like the way I sewed up a rip in Kate’s leggings the other day. But when I considered the sad state of my sewing basket (it’s actually a Quality Street tin with a hotel sewing kit in it) and the time it took me to thread the needle, let alone the ten minutes to stitch up a 1 inch rip, I decided against that. So I needed to buy a sewing machine. And wow, those f*ckers are expensive! Luckily, I was on Facebook Marketplace and saw an ad for an old Singer that some woman was selling for thirty-five bucks, which seemed like a good deal. And in the ad, to prove it worked, she was demonstrating sewing a piece of denim! Talk about kismet.
On Thursday after work, Ken and I went to pick it up. What should have been a quick trip took a little longer than I expected because, even though I had already e-transferred her the $35, she hadn’t accepted it yet, and insisted that I wait while she booted up her Commodore 64. Then she got the answer to the security question wrong, even though I had messaged it to her and then told it to her AGAIN while standing in her kitchen, causing the transfer to fail which meant I had to resend it. Finally, she tried to print me off a receipt, even though I kept telling her I didn’t need one. Was she lonely? Maybe. Did she talk about making horse blankets and barn coats the entire time I was there? Yes, she did. Was that helpful to my quilt-making endeavours? No, it was not.
Sewing Lady: I have so many machines, it’s time to get rid of a few.
Me: What do you use them all for?
SL: Well, I use some of them to sew barn coats and horse blankets, but some of them are just for display. I really like sewing machines. I’ve been collecting them for years.
Me: Well, lucky for me you’re selling this one.
SL: I’ve taken off the plate and oiled it and set up the bobbin for you.
Me: Those are all English words, yet…
SL: It’s easy to use. See?
Me: That needle looks very sharp.
At any rate, the sewing machine is now sitting by the door where we left it. Today, I’m going to buy some pins and cardboard, and I will be giving regular updates on the quilt. Hopefully by this time next year, my mother-in-law will have taken pity on me and made the quilt for me. And that, my friends, is how you make a patchwork quilt.
Update: I have not yet purchased either pins or cardboard. Maybe tomorrow…