Ice Cream Soda is one of my most treasured quilts, and now I want to make one with you!
For years, I didn't understand the place of joy...
I don't remember meeting anyone who created for the love of it until I was in my 20s. My mum sewed when I was a kid because it was cheaper back then to make your own clothes. We had friends who were musicians, but they only wrote or played music for church. Art was something you did if you were a famous artist or an art teacher.
When I left school, I lived in a desperately poor part of Poland for a year, and for a long time after that the time spent pursuing any kind of joy (getting married, having kids, making quilts) felt like I was sticking my finger up at those people.
I've spent the last 12 years shifting my perspective. From needing to justify my sewing, to embracing it as a gift I'm going to enjoy gratefully and unapologetically. From putting others' joy first, to valuing my own enough to pursue it.
Joy as Essential
This road to joy started in my early 30s when I took up sewing. I had just had my second baby, finished my university degree, and was all set to be a stay at home mum of 2, but the adjustment rattled me. I was lonely and bored and surprised that the thing I'd always wanted wasn't as easy and fulfilling as I'd always assumed!
I started making kids clothes and selling them on Etsy and at local markets. I loved working on something that was just mine, putting thought into colour combinations and marketing and numbers. I used the scraps to make quilts which was, by far, my favourite part, but because people generally weren't willing to pay what they were worth, I didn't feel like I could justify my fabric spending and time sewing if it didn't pay for itself.
A couple of years later, I suffered a miscarriage, and for months, I couldn't bring myself to do anything for money. I sewed only for survival. I sewed for expression, for processing, for the life-giving beauty I craved.
Before this, I hadn't really considered creativity as essential to my existence. It was more of an add-on. A special treat for when all the other ‘important’ items were checked off. A reward, or a special skill I could bring out at Christmas and birthdays. Soon, however, I was skipping the kids clothes altogether, and diving straight into the quilting part.
My Theme Music for Change
I stumbled across the Ice Cream Soda quilt design while playing with different paper shapes, moving them around on my dining table to learn how they tiled together. Tim and I had spent our whole adult life living as a part of a tight-knit Christian community and, then in our mid 30s, we were starting to chafe. No longer content to follow someone else's vision for our lives, we were longing to take responsibility for our own direction and purpose. I spent HOURS in those months moving shapes around, letting the world around me fade, letting these shapes make new connections in my brain, letting the swirl of impending change process away in the background.
Like songs that become theme music in our teens and 20s, my Ice Cream Soda blocks became the backdrop to months of late night discussions with Tim, quiet longings, fear and excitement, slow plans falling into place. We left all the community we'd ever known half way through my quilt, with no money, no work experience and only a thread of a sense of direction forward.
The years following that were the hardest I'd experienced. When starting a family or losing a baby, I knew the dislocation or grief I felt was normal, and shared with other women. But here, I felt embarrassed. I felt like we were running 10 years behind everyone else, that we'd made a huge, stupid mistake investing all that time and work in something so nebulous, and often ill-fitting.
Learning to Tune In
Sew an Ice Cream Soda quilt with me!
I have been a student of colour ever since. And, a student of joy. I'm trying not to just offer myself up to the machine like I was always taught (whether the church machine or the family machine or the work machine) and to tune in like I've learned to with my quilts--to do things on purpose, to work in step with what I love and what I'm good at. Rather than dragging myself along, to care for myself deeply.
In 2024, I'll be hosting the Ice Cream Soda Quilt club, and I want you to grow in confidence and joy too! I'll guide you through the process of making a beautiful quilt you love. I'll be sharing how to understand the ways you like to make, and planning your quilt to suit you. We'll tune in to what we want our quilt to look like and how to achieve it with colour and contrast and pattern. And, then we'll enjoy regular check-ins as we stitch our blocks, growing together in permission, confidence, and joy.
Sign-up to the club will be free! Folks who have bought the pattern or kit before and made a start are very welcome to join us, as are folks who are just curious about my process and journey to joy. Click the button below to sign up for the club!