"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Monday, March 14, 2011

How Making a Quilt is Like Writing a Book

I love to quilt. I love to create. I'm one of those odd people who can't just sit and watch television. Or sit and listen to a long sermon. My fingers itch to be busy, whether it's taking notes, or more often than not, quilting. As I begin my third quilt, I'm struck how creating a quilt is similar in many ways to creating a book.

1) Selecting the fabric: All those bolts of beautiful fabric in my local craft store can be intimidating. What colors to use? What pattern to pick? Applique or simple square piecing? And most importantly, what will the end result look like?
Beginning a story is no less daunting. What characters to use? What plot? How should I research, and should I plan each scene or fly by the seat of my pants? And the all important question: what will the end result look like?

2) Cutting and piecing the fabric: It's almost painful to start as I cut the fabric into its proper shape. Did I make the right choices? As I begin to piece, I get caught up in the unexpected beauty I've created. Maybe I do know what I'm doing...
The same is true when I look at that white space beneath the "Chapter One" heading. Is this going to be any good? Is the idea in my head going to form itself into coherent sentences, paragraphs, and chapters? As I throw caution to the wind, I often lose myself to the story. Its potential is heightened in my (the creator's) eyes. Maybe I do know what I'm doing...

3) Those nasty mess ups: I like my corners tidy and my ends to meet. This often means taking out stitches...a lot of them. I'll reevaluate where I went wrong and try again. Maybe all the blocks need to be rearranged. Maybe I should give up on the whole project. I don't. Times like these humble me.
Rewriting is no different. Sometimes a paragraph just doesn't look neat. Sometimes the whole plot needs restructuring. Often that means pulling my hard work apart, word by painful word. Discouragement sets in, and I fight the temptation to call it quits. I don't. Times like these humble me.

4) Quilting: This is my favorite part. I finally tie all of those pieces and layers together with small, careful stitches. I see something useful born in the midst of chaos.
When the editing of a story is finally done, and all the subplots are neatly tied together, I can rejoice in my work. Whether it will be useful or not is yet to be seen, but I would like the think that something special was born in the midst of chaos.

I think anytime we create something, there's not only a vulnerability, but a deep sense of accomplishment that binds us to our work. It is a part of us. I think the Author Of Life had this in mind when He made us. Whether we like it or not, we are bound to Him.
What do you like to create? How does your creation reflect how God made you?


  1. Heidi, My mom is an excellent quilter. She taught me several years ago and I've made a table runner, several pillows and a throw. I'm pretty good. She has to help me with the borders.

    Love how you tied this into writing!

    I like to refurbish furniture too. Reminds me of how God cleaned me up (and still is).
    ~ Wendy

  2. I love knowing other quilters, Wendy! Yes, those borders are tricky. I'm always surprised if mine come out half decent.
    Love your comparison about refurbishing furniture. So true--and what a handy skill to have.
    Thanks for stopping by!