I don’t know when I knew my Girt By Sea quilt was female, but it was very early on. Even when I was choosing fabrics, I was already calling her “her”, and named her “Flirty Girty”. I remember talking about Girty with some friends while walking around the Australasian Quilt Convention in April and saying how headstrong she was. How Girty takes you on her journey, not the other way around.
Making the medallion was like watching Girty grow from a tiny baby into a child with a personality all of her own, trusting me every step of the way to make the right decisions for her.
But Girty found her voice when I tried to add some of the neon pink spot fabric (that put the ‘flirt’ into ‘girt’) to the medallion border. “Ugh. No way.” she said, tossing it aside in disgust. What tweenager doesn’t love pink? Girty, that’s who.
By the time we got to the windmills round, Girty was a full-blown teenager, complete with raging hormones, body image and IG comparison angst. And we had our first row.
“Stop dressing me all fussy and frilly! You’re making me look frumpy! It’s not who I am!”
I made many, many more windmills than required so I could audition lots of different layouts – all sorts of new ‘outfits’ for her – but with each one she fell to the floor in the despair that only a teenager can display and cried about how she hated herself.
“You’re trying to make me fit into this pattern that doesn’t suit me! I can’t help it if I have lots of negative space!” At which point she slammed the door of her room and I left her to sulk.
The next day I crept quietly into my sewing room and looked again at the fabrics I’d chosen for Girty. The problem was they were selected way before I knew her. Before she even had a personality. And even though they were all great fabrics, I realised that I was trying to fit Girty into my vision of what she should be, rather than letting her be the personality she was slowly becoming of her own accord. If Girty wanted to celebrate her beautiful, fleshy, negative space then I was damn well going to give her room to do that.
So I loosened the corsets of the pattern, taking away some of the windmills to give Girty space to breathe. And breathe she did. She sighed blissfully as she relaxed, and smiled, finally feeling comfortable with the woman she was becoming.
Alison (and Girty) xx