2019 Word of the Year, Build, machine quilting, quilt, Teri Lucas, terificreations

Building vs Rehab

This post is a reflection, focusing on recent drive time thinking of the difference between building new vs rehabbing established based on my Word of the Year, Build. It’s very quilterly, and rather nostalgic.

Thirty years ago now, oh it feels so long ago, I was in the middle of a volunteer service year at Habitat for Humanity in Americus, Georgia. My primary work during this first year was child care, and reception with tour guide thrown in for good measure. Eventually I worked my way into the construction crew. I got to work on the home building process from beginning to end digging and pouring foundations, framing, drywall, mudding and taping, painting, roofing. I really loved roofing and would sit on the edge of the roof finishing the last 5 feet of shingling while the guys would start the run.

Then there were the rehab crews who would work on older homes restoring the building to a usable status. These crews often had to shift gears in the middle of their plan because something came up that required unexpected, immediate attention that halted progress on the work while the extent of the unexpected needs were assessed and met. This was a fascinating process, one that I heard more about rather than experienced. At the end I was always impressed by what these crews were able to accomplish with their hands, minds, and tools.

Building and Rehabbing are different skill sets

As the words flow from brain to fingers images of homes I worked on, roofs I sat on the edge of, people I worked with pop in and out of my head, like flipping through a photo album capturing moments in time. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, memories are priceless. Friendships that lived in a moment of time.

While these words, build and rehab hold special, significant meaning for me in this moment they are meaningful for us as quilt makers. We build on skills, and hone them just as other fine crafts people do. We do the same thing over and over and over again in an effort to get better at the doing of that skill. In both building new, and in rehab it’s important to remember that nothing is perfect. NOTHING is PERFECT. Builders over time learn how to find, and use the good materials that will improve the overall quality of their work, quilt makers do the same thing.

The thing is that we are building a body of work that shows how our skill have improved over time. More importantly we are making quilts for people we love, and care for, for those in need of warmth and love. Most of us are hard on ourselves because our work isn’t perfect, (I’m including myself here), or because we’re beginners and believe we need to apologize to more skilled quilters for our quilt making skills or lack thereof. I think it’s important to listen to our friends, and teachers, and others who let us know that they love our work without pointing out where all the flaws are. I think it’s important to tell others how beautiful their quilts are without reservation or hesitation. We all know where we’d like to see improvement in our quilt making lives. Let’s build this thing.

One of the best things that came out of my volunteer year is meeting the guy who would become my husband. We have built a life together, and are still working on that.

Happy Stitching,


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