The following piece is an account of whisperings heard sweetly as I pulled thread through fabrics and lace. It is a bit astonishing to me that this simple act of stitching speaks volumes about life and living. I must give credit to the inspiration for even making a hand stitched heart in the first place. Krista of themendingspace on Instagram had recently posted a couple of lovely fabric hearts stitched ever so simply and topped with a bit of hand-dyed silk or ribbon. What is available to me, and which I seem to gravitate toward, are pieces of fabrics from thrift shop dresses I’ve altered, or lace bits from other garments, colorful scraps from previous projects. The gathering and assembling of these pieces is a process I adore, and would surely hang out in for such a long time, if it weren’t for the call of a vision of heart, to make something and to see it to the end. At times I held my breath, the story here unfolding literally in my hands as I stitched, turned and stuffed. It was a gift to me, one which I am still relishing and living into, remembering how the act of making was speaking tenderly to me of the life I’ve lived, of where I am now, and of what is ahead. I had no idea when I first thought to join in the #threaduary challenge, that it would bring me back to the poetry and story of living. I’m grateful for this work of hand stitches and for you patiently reading these posts.
The Making of A Heart
We begin innocently, wide-eyed, caught by beauty. Something small, seemingly inconsequential – like a tiny butterfly flitting on wings – and we chase after it in our youthful glee.
Early on is the gathering. Small bits of this and scraps of that, hints of what we can only imagine but have no assurance of it turning out the way we see it. We dive right in, cutting the cloth in the shape of love, assembling and ordering our gathered bits to make what we dream.
Then the questions begin. As our needle moves slowly up and down we ask…
Will this work here?
Does this bit fit in?
If I add this, will it overwhelm?
What will happen when these two are joined together?
How will it look in the end?
Is it all harmonious, balanced, cohesive?
We work the separate pieces (of our lives) until it is time to join them. Yet they must first be flipped. Turned over upside-down to face each other so that the joining can begin. And we are assaulted by surprise and another set of questions –
Oh this lovely work which has been going on behind the scenes…do I love this more?
This spartan, hap-hazard yet glorious work here which I did not intend , nor design, nor even imagine and yet…
it is lovely too, as much so as the front I have been working hard to create.
Should this be revealed? It is more raw and stark as it presents more clearly where a sharp needle has been. Such beauty in its simplicity.
Should it, and not the other, be laid bare for all to see?
I choose in the end for this surprise of unintended beauty to be enfolded into my heart, lovingly stitched and given space to breathe within me as the turning begins.
It is awkward at first, this turning inside out of a heart stitched in love. Perhaps it even borders on violent as one edge is mashed through a small opening and then pulled out wrenching the rest of what’s inside to come to the fore.
Yet so much is revealed in the process of the turning. Stitches one had nearly forgotten in the joining phase now gloriously come to light again. My fingers move reverently over the fabric of my heart in wonder at its history from the beginning until now. I smooth and open it all out, no questions for now, just marveling at what is here and how it has all become.
Filling a heart can be tricky you know. In its filling more questions now arise…
How much do I want to pack in?
Is there room for all this?
I don’t want so much that it hardens and makes rigid.
I choose less so that my heart will remain soft and pliable. Definitely less in the corners so that the shape of love is preserved.
I tuck in a small extra bit before closing it all up. There’s a lot here on the edge of this opening…bits of excess cloth, frayed, unfinished threads. Yet I delight to join it all together to hold what I have lived. Leave the lovely bits of white cloth and fluff exposed (like my hair), no tucking it all in. Leave the frayed threads and work just enough to keep it all from unraveling.
A final question rises in my mind as I hold the last bit of white perle thread still held fast by a needle…
Do I have the energy, here at the end, to finish it off with a flourish? I know that even if I do not, it is beautiful in its way. No fanciful flourish is needed to make a beautiful heart.
Yet why not end with loops that remind me of the beginning…of my childhood days of chasing butterflies.
**Postlude: There was a point after the turning, as I gazed at both sides of the heart, that I felt it needed just a touch of something more. A button, or two, yes that would do. And I knew it must be buttons from the Mend Mindfully Kit I had just received in the mail. The timing was perfect and so were the buttons, bringing gratitude and completion to the original inspiration for this little stitched heart.