Like me, Chiyona has been a camp counselor, retreat leader, youth minister and so much more. Unlike me, Chiyona saved every single shirt. When she first contacted me I had only made two t-shirt quilts – one for me and one for my older brother. Two quilts and it was all in the family. I hadn’t considered doing this for others yet, but Chiyona sent me a message asking if I’d take her t-shirts from college and make a quilt out of them. I said yes. I’m not sure why I said yes, I had no business saying yes to this, and yet, I said yes.
I was apprehensive when I first starting cutting. I really didn’t know what I was doing. Not all of her shirts fit into the neat 12″x12″ square I was used to (“used to” – like I had been doing this for so long or something, haha!). I had to start getting more creative. They all had to end up that size square, but I realized I could piece different shapes together to get to the final size. I was improvising. I had no idea what I was doing but I kept moving forward. Her first quilt looked like this:
Why she trusted me with these valuable shirts I will never know. But she did trust me. And that bit of trust gave me a little more confidence. I began to understand that most of us have no idea what we’re doing – we just do it with a lot of hope that everything will turn out okay. And it was okay, more than okay! She loved it.
Some time later Chiyona contacted me again. She had more shirts from her college years – seriously, she has so many shirts! This time I was more confident when I said yes. I had made several more quilts since her first one. Quilt number two looks like this:
I did a lot more piecing with this one – 9 patch blocks. I didn’t even know the term “9 patch block” but I was creating them. And look, I got labels! I still felt like I had no business taking other people’s shirts and cutting them up, but there I was getting labels made for my own small business. I just kept saying yes to whatever popped up in front me.
I’ve made two more quilts for Chiyona since then – yes, that’s right, she has four quilts so far! One was made completely of bandanas – front and back full of bandanas. I tried a new technique – half square triangles (HSTs). I also used straight line quilting on this one. Again, so much trust. I asked if I could try it and she enthusiastically gave me permission to do it.
I will forever be grateful to Chiyona. For her trust in me. Because of her, I began to think about the possibility of starting a small business. Because of her, I had pictures of quilts to show other people my work. I created Quilting Moonbeams out of nothing in 2012. Now here we are 4 years later, over 100 quilts created by my hands. (Seriously, I just counted and I’m in shock…over 100??). All because she asked and I said yes.