Not so fast little lady. As usual, when things seem too good to be true, they usually aren’t. My quilting friend, Janet, who attaches the quilt top to the batting, and then to the backing, using her incredible creativity and long-arm machine, called me about a week after I’d dropped it off. I could immediately sense she was hesitating to say something. I assumed the cute panda ears, sticking out to add character, were causing the problem. Not so.
“How did you attach those borders?”, she asked. “Did you sew them on, then trim them, or measure them, cut them, and then sew them on?” A quilt class from my distant past started to come into focus. For Andy’s quilt, I’d cut slightly longer strips than needed, attached them, then trimmed them off. But that foggy memory, and Janet’s voice reminded me I should have measured the length and width of the quilt in three places, taken the average of each dimension, and cut the strips to those specifications. This would have ensured that the top and bottom were identical, and the left and right sides were too.
Fabric is interesting, and not all fabric is created equal. My red fabric, it turns out, had a lot of ‘give’ to it. When I attached it, I ended up using a longer length of strip than the actual size of the quilt. Then I added the blue, magnifying the problem even more, and causing a slight wave in the borders. Janet knew the fabric would pucker once it was quilted. The result was I needed to either accept there would be puckers, or remove all the borders and start again. I chose the latter. I suspect this quilt will be used for many years. When I compared that to the time it would take me to make the correction, and the way I would feel if I didn’t do my best work, it was an easy decision.
A border is what frames the picture of a quilt. It holds it in place, and shows it off. It allows the eye to relax, fully focus on the design, and not be distracted by little bits of the quilt that are wandering into border territory. Borders create security and clarity. Within them, we get an accurate and complete experience of the picture, fully appreciating its beauty and detail.
So too in life.
When countries have clearly defined, stable borders, the citizens living within those borders have a clear understanding of the rules, culture, norms, and values by which the society functions. Visitors to those countries witness the full beauty within, and gain an understanding of why the people living there live as they do. Unstable borders on the other hand, create uncertainty, even chaos.
In our personal lives it is the same. When we take time to think about and put in place clear borders, we show up in our lives as the person we aspire to be. These borders, create the frame to support our life. The picture we create, the tapestry we weave inside the frame becomes a true reflection of us living a life aligned with our values. Our values, our borders, make it easier to welcome into our lives, only the things we intend to have there. The borders also keep out things that distract us from our best life.
It is when we become less diligent with our borders, when we fail to consider the limits we are willing to live within, our picture, our life begins to feel off-kilter. My dad used to remind us to get our priorities straight. He meant for us to think about what was important to us, and to live accordingly. In other words, to get square with our values.
Luckily for me, the borders on Andy’s quilt were removeable. It did take time and care. I had no extra blue fabric so I couldn’t risk damaging any bits of the original. I had a lot of tiny pieces of thread to carefully remove.
I’ve now measured, measured again, cut, pinned, eased and sewn. It shouldn’t have surprised me that the new version, with the newly measured borders, vastly improve the look of the quilt. The cute pandas are still cute. But somehow, they look so secure, so peaceful, now that they don’t have to worry about the edges failing them. Now that they know they are safe and being supported by unconditional love; the love of this Gramma, Chamma as Andy calls me, who would do anything to support our precious little Andy.
May you shore up your borders this week, allowing the picture within them to dazzle others with its beauty and intentional detail.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘How secure are your borders?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups and has expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to find out how to secure your borders.