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Today a Facebook friend put up a cartoon of an antique sewing machine and underneath it had the inscription: Sewing mends the soul.

It really does but it does more than that and I wrote in a comment:

Sewing mends the soul,
It also patches a broken heart,
Occupies an anxious mind,
Is good therapy for those in pain,
Gives joy to the unhappy by creating something unique
Provides happiness and expresses love to the receiver of a handmade gift
Sewing does this and so much more.

I sew every day. I sew on a machine by day and by hand by night. It’s like breathing to me.

I was brought up in a house where needle and thread was always about. Mum was an expert embroiderer and made works of art from skeins of silk and yards of linen. After an evening of stitching she’d take the linen out of the hoop and there would be a perfectly executed flower, butterfly or bird. It was her way of relaxing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

She couldn’t be just sitting in front of the TV and just watch it, she had to be doing something. I am just like her in that respect. I can’t just sit and watch TV. I can embroider but its more embellishing than real embroidery but I can do tapestry and have made a couple of tapestries including one that is nearly three metres long.

My maternal grandmother didn’t embroider, she knitted. Again, she couldn’t be idle in the evenings, she needed to keep busy and so she knitted. I had several jumpers she made but one really was my favourite, a yellow cardigan. I wore it and wore it, it became threadbear and was patched but was no longer good enough to be seen in. When I was sick it was the one thing I so wanted to wear and when I became too big to wear it, it became my hot water bottle cover when I was ill.

Dad died in 2001 and it was a massive transition for Mum. She even stopped embroidering. By a chance meeting she fell into a group of friends from some time back who were patchworkers. Slowly she re-established the friendships and came along to the meetings they had and she took up patchwork. They became her support, her best friends and patchwork became really important to her.

Two years after Dad died from cancer, Mum died from cancer too. Mum’s patchworking friends were there with her from the diagnosis to her final days. Sewing in a different form, from embroidery to patchwork, had helped her maybe not to heal but to accept.

That was eleven years ago.

I’ve been quilting seven years. I ache to be able to tell her that I too have discovered quilting, how fun it is, how wonderful it is to share the joy with friends, the thrill of creating something from cut pieces of fabric. She probably would laugh at my shameful attempts at embroidery on my quilts but she would then pick up her needle and silks and show me how to do it properly. All my embroidery skills are just learnt from watching her stitch, never having an actual lesson from her, from anyone, even from YouTube.

Someone said when they heard that Mum was a quilter but never knew that I was too said that when we meet up again boy is she going to have something to say!

I don’t think she will, she’ll understand that stitching is in my blood. Its something we did. Not that long ago it was something everyone did, stitches held families together, it provided employment, it was sometimes the only opportunity for women to show their creativity, men lived by tailoring and it was all hand made.

I can’t imagine now not quilting. Its part of me. I spend most of my day in the studio doing something towards the quilt I’m making and it truly does feed my soul. Actually I’m beginning to think that it goes even deeper, I think it might actually be in our DNA, it certainly is in mine!

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