A Quilter's Survival Guide
In the coming zombie apocalypse, the uninfected survivors will be divided into two groups: those whose faces are eventually devoured by undead, flesh-munching demons and quilters. Because quilters uniquely possess the ingenuity, the guile, and the ruthlessness needed to survive. Skeptical? Believe me, it only takes one encounter with a slime-encrusted, brain-eating ghoul intent on getting gore all over your stash to see just how little “ruth” you have.
But that doesn’t mean you should greet Armageddon unprepared. That’s why I’ve watched every zombie movie and TV show out there (and hoo boy there’s a lot of them) and from the knowledge I gleaned have created this handy guide to help you get ready for the inevitable plague that will destroy humanity except for a few hardy souls who will somehow manage to escape its wrath. Hope one of ‘em is you!
1. Work on your hand sewing skills.
Anyone can learn to stitch up a gaping head wound neatly and quickly, but the one who can also add a pretty little birdie or a nice flower will be highly prized in the survivor camps and might not get traded to the Big Mean Sweaty Guy for food or latrine access. And naturally there will be no electricity, so if you want to get anything pieced in time for Christmas you better know how to do it by hand. You could, of course, invest in a treadle machine, but since you’ll be forced to walk hundreds of miles to the “virus-free zone” you heard about that one time your short-wave radio got a brief transmission before you shot it in despair (trust me, this happens to everyone), you’ll probably want to travel light.
2. Befriend the meanest quilter you know.
As you wander the seemingly deserted landscape, you will inevitably meet another survivor, possibly with a young child in tow, who will initially team up with you but will soon turn on you in order to steal your weapons and food. In order to adequately handle this eventuality, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of professional backstabbing: how to anticipate it, how to subvert it, and how to walk away with your tuna cans and rotary cutter blades intact. You know that one quilter who tells you the quilt you brought to show-and-tell was the loveliest one she saw all night and she just has to make one like it for her great Aunt Phyllis, but then you find out she took pictures of it on her iPhone and uploaded them on uglyquiltsmadebymorons.com? Become her acolyte. Learn her ways. True, no one will want to room with you on retreat ever again, but you can take comfort in the knowledge that no one will be able to steal your thread snips without losing an arm in the process.
3. Start saving thread.
This wasn’t actually in any of the movies we watched or the graphic novels we read, but it just seems like a good idea. Never hurts to be thrifty!
4. Take risks.
Somebody’s going to have to come up with the balls necessary to storm a shopping mall full of crazed, soulless corpses in order to save the one person that got left behind, and it might as well be you. Ask any long-term zombie apocalypse survivor and she’ll tell you it’s the ones who do the craziest things who manage to make it out alive while the timid scaredy-pants become dinner for deadbeats. So start practicing your devil-may-care attitude by taking on projects that make lesser quilters pee their pants with fear. By the time you’ve paper pieced and hand quilted an entire king-size quilt, you’ll be more than ready to take on 500 undead demons with nothing more than a pair of pinking shears and an AK-47.
5. Learn to improvise.
You’re holed up in your local quilt shop (a natural choice of fort for any respectable quilter) with your ragtag group of fellow survivors, and there’s a horde of hungry zombies trying to break through the doors and windows. You have only minutes until something gives and your hideout becomes a grocery store for ghouls. You ran out of bullets for that AK-47 when you shot up your short-wave radio, and your rotary cutter blades are all nicked up. But you’ve got a store full of fabric, thread, needles, and assorted notions. What will you do?
If you’re going to fashion an effective weapon out of an acrylic ruler, some safety pins, and a bias tape machine, you’re going to need to work on your improv skills. Start by locking yourself out of your sewing room and then promising your pregnant sister a baby quilt by the end of the week. At first, of course, you’ll panic, turning to the liquor cabinet in despair and getting pie-eyed on mojitos before noon. But by the end of that week desperation will become the mother of invention, and you’ll find a way to make a perfectly adorable baby quilt out of sugar, lime peels, empty bottles of rum and a muddler. Repeat as necessary to hone your technique, but stop if you begin to consider dismantling one of the children for spare parts.
But of course, the most important thing to remember when the walking dead are knocking at your door is to keep your sense of humor. Sure, it may not seem funny now, but years later when you gather with your fellow quilting survivors, you’ll all laugh as you trade stories about trying to find your least favorite fat quarter to use as a tourniquet and about the time you thought you were going to have to repopulate the planet with that nice gay man from Schenectady.
And besides, if you can laugh in the face of a crazed horde of the walking dead and still remember how to tie a quilter’s knot, then there’s nothing you can’t do.