Saturday, December 30, 2023

'A Quilt Made of Days'

"Each day is like a panel in a quilt. Some days are
ugly and some days are raw and some days are chaotic
and some days are colorful and some days are orderly
but if you keep adding them up they turn into something."
AUSTIN KLEON, "A Quilt Made of Days" online article

'A quilt made of days.' That phrase—borrowed from Austin Kleon who wrote about his idea HERE—captivates my imagination. Although I am not a quilter, I am an ardent admirer of talented seamstresses, including my mom, who skillfully piece swatches of fabric into gorgeous patterns that become something beautiful and useful in one's home. Their creativity inspires me.

Perhaps that's why I gravitate towards creator/author Austin Kleon's words. His comment above seems particularly fitting as we stand on the cusp of a brand new year. The days yet to come in 2024 are unknown to us but we guess that some will arrive bright and colourful; others will show up muted and dull, some will be raw with pain and filled with chaos. And still other days will arrive, thankfully, with calm and peace as the order of the day. To create an actual physical quilt, crafters start with a plan. They know the pattern they want to create; they have chosen their colour scheme. They carefully pick out the fabrics, cut them into the appropriate shapes, and sew them together into the design they dream about. When it comes to creating the more ethereal quilts made of days, in life we aren't given the materials ahead of time; we can't plan the pattern, we must make use of what appears. Still, if we pay attention we can make use of what shows up and gather the pieces—memories, experiences, events—that are our life story. We can watch as patterns emerge. We can learn to recognize the value each block brings to the developing design.

When I took a water colour painting course years ago, I came to see how paintings need contrasts: they need dark to show light, shadows to give depth and perception, darker backgrounds to set off brighter foregrounds. For me, I found the most important contrast was the juxtaposition of using something plain or dull, maybe even ugly, in order to set off a thing of beauty. It was a life lesson to learn that maybe we need ugly and pain to truly realize the immense value of beauty, order, peacefulness, and joy. I'd rather not experience the pain, but would I know the great joy without it to compare?

It's the same in the world of quilting with fabric... or the days of our lives.

I have always been drawn to Victorian crazy quilts (see the photo above for an example). Rather than blocks that march squarely into place, there's a kind of creative higgledy-piggledy that makes use of the tiniest bits of fabric alongside the larger pieces, all in various shapes, colours, textures, and patterns. Victorians would use scraps of fabric, often from worn out clothing and linens. They'd include swatches that had been handed down from one generation to the next—maybe from a great grandmother's wedding dress or a baby's christening gown—creating these lasting works of art that burst with texture and colour, embroidery and ribbonry. Fashioned from the days given to them.

As I said earlier, I'm not a quilter, but I'm mulling what a quilt made of days would look like for me. I'd probably fashion a 'quilt' from the bits and pieces of how my life unfolds in 2024, and rather than sew or craft with fabric or paint, I'd probably create a 'quilt' using words, watching for the patterns, hoping for more red letter days than chaotic ones. And when something ugly turns up, dear Lord, I'd want His help as I waited for the beauty when it isn't yet fully evident. Taking days as they come, all the while learning to walk with confidence and hopefulness, being comforted during trying moments embroidered with prayers, when laughter and cheer have flown off. There is something comforting about recognizing there's a bigger picture, one I cannot yet fathom, of One who is making all things work together for good, One who is creating something bigger than our individual lives. For in God's created world, we believe there is a greater plan and purpose, trusting that He is taking all things and fashioning them into something truly exquisite and out of this world.

I wonder what kind of a quilt it will become. With the craziness of life in our upside down world, I'm pretty certain my quilt of days will have its own slant on crazy quilt. While things happen to me and around me, it's also up to me to do something with what's given, whether I think a piece will fit or not. It's my job to creatively work my attitudes, gratitudes, prayers, and dreams, staying hopeful through the storm darkened days, enjoying the small joys 'that tip the balance towards hope' (a phrase borrowed from Sarah Clarkson). All the while imagining something beautiful... my own quilt made of days.

Happy New Year to you, dear beautiful friends!
With love and heart hugs,

Photo credit:
Top Image by chenspec from Pixabay


  1. I love that "A quilt made of days". Could have lots of creativity fun with that theme. Like what would January quilt look like compared to May or September? Could be quilted with words, or with photos. It would be very interesting to look back over the year and see how it played out. Happy 2024!

  2. Brenda, I can imagine your quilt being made up of your very expressive and lovely words, colourful, shaded, different lengths and sizes, but creating a very harmonious result.

  3. Hello Dear Brenda...I'm sure your 2024 quilt of days will be most beautiful, filled with colorful happenings and poignant memories of happy times and heartfelt experiences.
    Your writing is very lovely and touches the heart. Who could not admire a quilt of days that comes straight from the human heart? Happy, Happy New Year, Brenda!

  4. Such a beautiful post, dear Brenda! A lovely way to imagine the coming new year and how it will all be pieced together, day by day. I hope your imaginary quilt is filled with lovely memories and give you warm comfort on those dark days that you don't deserve. Happy New Year, with many blessings to come. Hugs xo Karen

  5. ...It was a life lesson to learn that maybe we need ugly and pain to truly realize the immense value of beauty, order, peacefulness, and joy...

    Dear me, Brenda, what a profound observation. We learned exactly that lesson this Christmas when an ugly episode blew up in some cousins' lives just a few days after the most beautiful of days. Even as we commiserated with the wounded family, we saw with refreshed eyes the value of spouse and children. That even if the world tips over the edge, we will make it through if our hearts are tethered tightly to God's. We learned this lesson anew this year standing by the edges of pain. Our cousin learned it by 2 arrows shot right through her sweet and tender heart. But in the end, as you put it so beautifully, it took pain to make us see truth and to light the way forwards.

  6. Lin Floyd loves your creative thoughts on how life is like a crazy quilt. Happy new year friend...

  7. Dear Brenda,
    What a lovely post to write as we enter a new year. Crazy quilts are beautiful with their oddly shaped patches and rich fabrics. Dark and light play together to create beauty in nature and in our lives. I am so thankful that the Master Creator gives each day what is needed and that He is always with us.
    Happy New Year to you and Rick!

  8. Wonderful words! Wishing you and yours all the best for this new year, dear Brenda, hope it's a good one!

  9. What a beautifully woven reflection on life as a quilt of days! Your analogy to quilting, with its contrasts and the importance of incorporating both the plain and the beautiful, resonates deeply. The idea of creating a 'quilt' from the bits and pieces of life, using words as the medium, is truly poetic. The Victorian crazy quilts analogy adds a layer of richness, reminding us that life's tapestry is made up of diverse experiences, textures, and colors. The hopeful perspective of embracing challenges and finding beauty in the midst of chaos is inspiring. Wishing you a 2024 filled with red letter days and the creative courage to fashion your unique quilt of days. I

  10. Oh my goodness Brenda!!!
    What an ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL post!!!!! I will be rereading your words often!!
    First of all, as a younger girl(😂) I remember finding a few quilts in our linen closet at home. One was a Crazy Quilt. Looked just like the photo!! I looked right away for embroidered initials and a date , feeling that this was a “family treasure!” I took that with me, to my first home, keeping it safe but not hanging it or keeping it out to look at and enjoy. Then I moved. ~ A BIG move, by myself and “under the gun” of a date I had to meet for the new owners. As I write this I am hoping that I can go to a bottom drawer of an old dresser and find this quilt! At times I feel that gut “dis ease” that something is lost; out of my hands and life. This is one of those items I fear will not be found.
    Still, I do “take joy” in the fact that we, I had one , just like your photo!!
    Aside from the actual quilt, your description of “life,” quite like the essence of a Crazy Quilt is deep and brilliant. I will read and reread your comparison often. I think for 2024 I will try to remember this “overall” peace that ALL of our days, “good, bad and sometimes ugly” are “pieced” together , creating the overall BEAUTY of the fabric that it is; our life.
    OH how I APPRECIATE your heart and your thoughts!!!!
    THANK YOU!!!!!! Happiest of new years to you!!!! ~ Ann from Ohio

  11. What a wonderful and inspiring posting Brenda! I wish you that this year would bring beautiful and colorful fabrics and patterns to enrich the quilt you're making in 2024!


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo