Sunday, November 27, 2011

My First Quilt!

Bonnie Hunter has a invitation to talk about your first quilt. I never can figure out the "linky" process, so I am not going to even try, but I started thinking about my first quilt.

I have been quilting for about 18 years. I started making my own clothes when I was 12 and in fact my very first job was taking some clothes that a neighbor had and cutting them down for her niece. I think I was about 13. I had begun sewing much younger than that with doll clothes though, made from scraps that my mother had left over from her quilting. My mother was a quilter in the same vein as Gee Bend quilters. Her quilts were made to keep us warm. They were colorful and asymmetrical and to me wondrous. She used cardboard templates and I don't remember her talking about or teaching me to quilt. I would sit with her and she would cut and sew the squares together. She didn't stress consistency or patterns, we just put pieces together. I remember green and red squares--how bright and free it seemed. How you could take a piece of fabric and cut it up and then put it back together was wonderful to me.

I grew up in a tiny Oklahoma town where I began taking Home Economics in the 3rd Grade. Included in Home Ec. was cooking and sewing classes, so I became very familiar with these skills. So familiar that at one time I wanted to be a Home Ec teacher. We really didn't quilt in class though, focusing more on clothing. My teacher was Mrs. Jackson, who always had the most beautiful clothes, all things she made. I aspired to be as gifted as she with the needle and thread. I took Home Ec throughout high school, again without coming in contact with quilts, but changed my major at the last minute to sociology.

Fast forward to 18 years ago. I had been reading about quilts, had purchased books and had become a theorist, but not actually really quilted. I don't remember what attracted me to quilting, but my husband would tease me about buying all these magazines. By nature I am a researcher first, learning all I can about a technique/skill/art/craft before I actually try it. I had even purchased a ruler, more to have something to put the concept of a 1/4 inch seam into reality, since as a dressmaker I worked with 5/8 inch seams. Our daughter had gotten married and informed us we were to become grandparents for the first time. I also love history, and the concept of making something that my grandchild could attribute to me even after I was no longer, was a wonderful thing to me----so I began to make a quilt for this grandchild who turned out to be a granddaughter. I did it alone---I had no one to consult---just my books. We were living in Chicago, so I went to Vogue Fabrics, where I choose a pattern that was simple (it was ranked "beginner) and began. It was made of gingham-----green/yellow/pink/and red. A simple 4-patch. I also made bumper pads and a white eyelet crib skirt. I knew nothing about machine quilting, so I hand quilted it in simple lines outlining each block. My granddaughter still has that quilt! I thought it was beautiful---and looking back, it really was pretty good for a first quilt.

I didn't make anymore quilts, but continued to buy magazine/books AND rulers. About 4 years later while living in Chicago, one of the women I worked with shared with me that her Mother was a quilter. I met this lady and now I had someone to talk to about quilting. I began to investigate and found a quilting guild that I joined. I also took a class at Vogue fabrics --- a log cabin quilt that I tied. Instead of yarn, I used thin ribbon! I then tacked my first "real" quilt. It was a blue and yellow Irish Chain, with bleached white muslin as the background. I used a sheet for the backing and the mother of my friend machine quilted it. She didn't charge me money, but instead asked to 3 packs of batting---poly. The quilting wasn't fancy, simple lines, but it fit the quilt perfectly. That is when I discovered how "cutting challenged" I am. I thought I had cut all those little squares correctly (they finished at about 1.5 inches) but some looked a little small. I didn't really realize that was a problem so I pushed on, and the lady who quilted it didn't tell me any different. I didn't find out about accuracy until I had gone to some meetings at the guild and discovered that all blocks should be the same size---"oh" I thought.

I never could really appreciate little quilts, since remember, I am from the belief that quilts are suppose to be used, so even from the very first quilt (it was king size) I made large bed quilts. I still have that first quilt somewhere (I will find it and post a picture), but clearly as I look at my quilts, I have progressed and I am pleased! I also didn't realize you should only buy quilt shop quality fabrics, since I purchased fabrics where ever I found some that I liked. I still do that---I am more aware of quality, but I have certainly purchased some fabrics at Wally World that held up better than some quilt shop "quality" fabrics, so I continue to look and purchase what I like, in spite of where it is. I also don't pre-wash---again, I don't remember reading or being taught I should when I started quilting. That issue has only surfaced lately. I admit, I am lazy and busy, so I am not going to wash fabric for no reason. It just seems redundant to wash all the sizing from fabrics and then put it back in with starch. I have to honestly say that although I don't pre-wash, I haven't had a real problem with bleeding.

I don't really sew clothing anymore. I am almost exclusively a quilter. Quilting has brought me in contact with some wonderful people. I think generally we are a sharing and affirming group. I think that is so interesting since quilting can be a solitary art, yet when we get together, even when in line at Joanne's waiting for fabric to be cut, it isn't unusual for us to strike up a conversation that on the surface looks like we have known each other for years, when in fact we have only just met and may never see each other again. What other art/craft/hobby does that occur in?

I love my art!!!!! It is my hope and prayer I am able to do it for a very long time. It makes me smile to realize that my quilts will be something members of my linage will have to connect me to them, even if we have never officially met----sorta like the "Time Traveler".

Have a great day! Thanks for stopping by---unless you leave an email, I can't contact you to officially thank you---but know I appreciate the time you take to read my ramblings!

1 comment:

  1. What a great story! Even as much as we have talked, I didn't realize your 'official' first quilt was an Irish Chain. Mine was a simple 4-patch that Mary still has. Before that one I used alot of cheater clothes that were popular in the 80s. Still have a few of them!
    Thanks for sharing how you got started with quilting. It is a fun hobby to have and as you say, you meet some wonderful people thru a mutual love of fabrics!
    Hugs & happy belated Thanksgiving!


Thank you so much for leaving a comment! Please come back again!!