My First Quilt Literally Put Me in the Emergency Room


This is a story of firsts: my first quilt, my first boyfriend, and my first trip to the emergency room (okay, technically my fourth trip, but who's counting?).

Emergency room? Quilting? Yes, unfortunately those two things belong in the same sentence.

I was 15 when I discovered quilting. Brenda, who later called herself my "quilt mom," took me under her wing and into her sewing room. I was friends with her daughters, and was spending a good deal of time in their basement just hanging out. But as my friends played video games, I’d wander into Brenda’s sewing room, and one day I mustered up the courage to ask for a lesson. Brenda graciously welcomed me in. We made a nine-patch that day, and I was instantly hooked. I called Brenda the next day, determined to sew again.

And thus began my summer of sewing. I’d call Brenda as often as I could to make plans to sew. I’d tried to play it cool when my friend answered instead of Brenda, but she always saw right through me and put her mom on the phone. After I had a few blocks under my belt, I was ready to start my first quilt, a simple Rail Fence pattern.

And so, on the day of my friend’s 16th birthday party, I snuck over early to get started on my quilt with Brenda before the guests arrived. I was young, and definitely a little over-eager, and when I picked up that rotary cutter, I promptly sliced the tip of my pointer finger clean off. What followed felt like a comedy of errors. Party guests started to arrive as I laid on the couch, bandaged finger in the air. At one point, a classmate scooped up my severed fingertip and brandished it in the air. Eventually we all ended up in the emergency room: me, my mom, Brenda, my boyfriend (my FIRST boyfriend), and various other spectators.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get more embarrassing, it was time for a tetanus shot. A tetanus shot, administered in full view of the assembled crowd, right in my behind.

The quilt made slow progress after that. Brenda insisted I wear a chain maille glove when cutting, for obvious reasons, but these precautions didn’t dampen my love for quilting one bit. I’d found a respite from the awkwardness of being a teenager in that sewing room. Brenda and I didn’t have to talk, we would just sew. I suppose that was a first for me, too: I didn’t have to impress Brenda, I could just be.

The quilt was eventually finished and gifted to that first boyfriend (I’m SURE he still has it). There have been many quilts since then, and a few other boyfriends, but Brenda, my quilt mom remains steadfast.

Nowadays, Suzy Williams quilts confidently.

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My First Quilt Literally Put Me in the Emergency Room