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The Anxiety Quilt

(Image courtesy of Adrian van Leen)

On one of my quick forrays out to the shed, to try to see if I can salvage things and fix the roof before winter hits, I found the old shoe storage bag that I had once kept my quilt fabrics in back when I lived in the old house with my parents.

The side of the bag had completely deteriorated away, and over half of the fabrics in the bag were ruined or beyond saving, but there were a few bits that were in good condition. I took those bits into the quanset and looked them over for a day or two, then on a whim I grabbed two that had been bought to go together and started cutting and sewing.

Back when I discovered quilting I had made a very basic quilt for my mom that was scraps of material I had bought for bookbinding. each scrap was cut into triangles roughly the size of my hand and sewn into squares that were then sewn together.

I had worked late through the nights, spreading it out on the kitchen floor after she had gone to bed so I could get a good distribution between the patterns and the pieces of velvet that were scattered throughout it.

That quilt was, sadly, lost at some point after I had moved out of the old house.

I began this one much the same way – triangles sewn togther to create squares. I then pinned them one by one to the cork board I use for laying out my novel cards.

A third fabric was chosen as a contrast color that works well with the first two and slowly I have created two long panels that roughly frame out what will probably be the sides of a lap quilt and have began working on a center piece.

This project could not have come along at a better time for me, because with the stress of trying to work on the shed and get it ready for winter, paired with a need to go to Anchorage in the near future, my stress and anxiety are through the roof. The calming activity of holding the fabric while slowly working a needle back and forth along the edge is a meditative sort of activity that has been helping me to slow down my racing thoughts and breathe slowly and evenly.

Years ago I used to carry a small quilting project in my purse, working on it when sitting in doctor’s waiting rooms with my parents, or while waiting with my dad for him to get a catscan or whatnot.

I had not thought at the time how it might have been helping me deal with the anxiety of the situations, but now, looking back, I realize it had. Quilting by hand is a hobby that requires one to slow down and enter a sort of meditative calm as they focus not on the problems their mind is worrying over, but on the motion of the needle moving up and down though the edge of the fabric.

Bonus: When it is finished, I will have a lovely lap quilt that I can toss onto my desk chair and can start on a new project. And there is no expense to the project, because it is salvaged quilt material I had bought over a decade ago and an old spool of thread that has been in my sewing basket for years. I even have some old quilt batting that had been salvaged from my brother’s garage a few years ago and has been hidden away in my trailer.

I have come to determine, thanks to this project, that I need to make myself a small sewing bag that I can take with me when I go places. That way when writing fails to reduce the stress and anxiety, I can work on a small quilt square project.

Are you a quilter? What do you think about using quilting, or just general hand sewing of projects, to reduce feelings of anxiety or stress? If it has helped you I would love to hear about it.

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