The Heirloom Myth

There are many things I love about working in a quilt shop. Talking to people about what they’re making is right up there near the top. It’s not unusual to hear people downplay their projects. “It’s just a quilt.” “It’s nothing special.” “I’m just a beginner.”

One of our regulars was telling me recently that she makes quilts for the high school graduates she knows but that the ones she made weren’t anything special because she’s still new to quilting. And it dawned on me that she really, honestly thought the quilts she was making weren’t anything remarkable — which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you take the time and love to make someone a handmade gift — especially something like a quilt — you are giving them something they will treasure for years, I told her. You may look at it and see all the mistakes you made but the recipient sees you and feels loved. If you gave that same person a comforter from Target, that blanket will go in the trash when it’s no longer worth using. But that person will seek out someone to repair the worn spots, the damage from years of loving use, of that beautiful handmade gift you think of as “nothing special.”

Whether or not we intend it, our quilts, clothes, stuffed toys — they’re all special for the love and thoughts that go into making them. If that doesn’t make it an heirloom, then I don’t know what does.