Favorite Handmade Item – Jessica Stewart

Welcome to August – and almost September!! This beginning of fall (yes, I said it, fall!) I’m going to introduce you to Mrs. Jessica Stewart of Bedford, IN. Jessica and I met (in person) after some FB stalking (on my part, I’ll admit) at this past year’s Midwest Craft Con in Columbus, OH, and I couldn’t be happier to be able to call her my friend. Jessica once bought a building on the downtown square in Bedford, revamped it, and turned it into the AWESOMENESS that once was Ginger Threads. Ginger Threads was a quilting shop, for all intents and purposes, but it was so much more too! It was a classroom space, a community building experience, and a true passion. Now, Jessica is moving on to the next thing, but not before sharing her favorite handmade item with us!!

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My Great-grandmother hand pieced this quilt in the 1940s.  It sat for years in a “top only” state.  When I received it, she had been long gone.  A quilt top doesn’t do any good as a top alone. You can’t really use or display it.  I must admit, I was a bit intimidated when I decided to finish something so old by machine.  However, I wanted it to outlive me and generations to come, so by free motion quilting it, I ensured it would last much longer than if I were to hand quilt it.
I thought it was so fantastic that she used such a vibrant red; a nod to my future in owning a modern fabric store.  As I free handed and moved the longarm across the quilt to create the meander design, I thought about the countless hours she must have spent on it. It’s interesting how people think that the old hand pieced quilts are “better” than the modern quilts that are made now. If you truly look close at old hand pieced quilts, you’ll see that’s not always true. The points don’t properly match and there are often puckers…but that’s what’s fabulous about handmade, it’s the gift of a mistake– showing our humanity.

I was excited to get near the bottom of the quilt, and as I advanced the frame to show the last 18 inches of the quilt, I gasped…there was a piece sticking out that my Great Grandmother had attached to the wrong edge!  Her very last piece of this time consuming quilt was placed incorrectly.  I laughed out loud and left it, because that’s definitely something I would have done! When I attached the binding, I bound it around that large mistake, in homage to her and her awesomeness. I hope people see my quilts after I’m gone. I hope they see my mistakes. Maybe they will also be inspired to make some imperfect creations themselves.

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