Thursday, May 25, 2006

Getting Started

Ok, once again please ignore the hyper links. Picasa hates to import from Word I guess.

Many others around the quilt blog/block have written about how they got started quilting so I thought I’d share too. When I was about 5 years old my maternal great- grandmother died, and my mom and grandmother brought my sister and I each a quilt from her collection. I’m not even sure you could call mine a quilt as it had no batting and only a single piece of fabric each for the front and back, but it was tied. It was probably a lap quilt with a lovely pink flower print on the front with a plain pink back and I loved it dearly. I kept it on my bed until I went to college than passed it on to my niece who lived with us so she would have something special to remember me by. (We were very close. She used to come a sit on my head in the mornings to wake me up. :D ) Neither my mom nor my grandmother quilted (except for one class my mom took where she made a single log cabin block) but my mom would occasionally make us some clothes. One year I got a sewing box and started sewing Barbie clothes and accessories. No instruction, I just did what worked and kept it simple. After that I didn’t do much more than make the prerequisite pillow for home ec in 7th grade.

Flash way forward to 1996. My soon to be dh and I moved to MD where he got a summer internship. We were close to PA and I was inspired by the proximity to Amish quilters to try my hand at a quilt for my 2nd niece’s 1st birthday. I knew nothing about making a quilt and never actually went and saw any quilts so, true to my nature I hit the library for a book that would help me along. I found a simple hst star pattern, hit the local JoAnn’s a picked fabrics I thought would work and got busy. I finished the top, sandwiched and bound it and felt quite proud of my accomplishment. So I started in on a quilt for niece #1 for Christmas, this time a mix of hst stars and 4 patches. (I think the pattern is called Milky Way.) I finished the binding the morning I gave it to her. Now here is the important point that you might have missed. I didn’t actually quilt or tie either one of these quilts! Being completely self taught, I didn’t really “get” the need for quilting or binding them. I thought making a pretty top was more than enough. Duh! Well about a year later I went to visit my sister and saw the condition of both quilts. One of the fabrics in quilt #1 was not suitable to little kid wear and tear and had given way at many of it’s seams and the batting in both quilts was all bunched up. Lesson learned! I started quilt #3 while pregnant with ds #1-more stars with 6x6 1” finished postage stamp centers. A lot of the fabrics in this quilt were clothes that were in the give-away pile at dh’s uncle’s house where we were staying until dh found a job. With no job and me expecting buying tons of fabric for a baby quilt was not an option. (Hey, if it was good enough for our fore-mothers, it would work for me too.) What was purchased was sale or clearance stuff. (Being a newbie I did end up buying WAY too much yardage for the backing/background fabric.) The squares were cut using a 3x5 card cut to size and a pair of scissors used for everything. I learned my lesson and actual did some quilting on this one. After washing a few times, I decided to add more just to be safe but probably by most quilters’ standards it’s not much. Now nearly 7 years and many washings later, only one of the clothing fabrics has proven weak and come apart at a few seams and one of the cheap purchased fabrics has faded a lot but it’s still in pretty good shape.

I’ve only ever taken 1 2-day quilting class and until finding quilting blogs I never talked to other quilters, read about their experiences or saw many quilts. This has allowed me to see what I like and do it how I want without a lot of shoulds or have tos. I’ve learned from my own experiences which fabrics will likely be too thin. I rarely prewash or iron anything unless it’s been clothes. I’m awful at guessing or eye balling a ¼” seam so I use a ball point or gel pen to mark nearly all of my seams since I hand piece everything. I don’t wash or dry my quilts any differently than the rest of our clothes. Remember, women were quilting a LONG time before all of the special soaps for quilts were introduced using fabric with presumably less stable dye and much rougher washing methods. (Think about lye soap and wash boards.) Now that I’ve started reading about quilters like Tonya, I’m more confident to do what works for me and not sweat it when things don’t look quite right. My seams may not line up just right but I haven’t gotten a single complaint yet, so why worry. ;)

Here’s a pic of ds #1’s quilt. Despite the few places where the fabric has given way, I still use it at night sometimes. (The extra background fabric for this quilt was enough to work as a sheet for my current 75"x79" bed. The white with big black polka dots is the weak fabric. DS decided he’s much rather have a new and bigger quilt which I have to agree is necessary since he’s now nearly 4 ½’ tall. Posted by Picasa


Patty said...

Wonderful personal history ! I love the warm colors in the quilt and the poka dots add some fun to it. What a sweet picture with the wee one so sound asleep. Peaceful and content

Tonya R said...

Wonderful sparkly quilt. If you wanted to keep using the quilt, you could applique patches over the weak fabric.

I love that you are really really self-taught. My Mom quilted and so did her sister, so I wasn't all by myself figuring things out. My mom was definitely a "get it done" quilter - she didn't care one whit if her seams matched or not. I hated that back when I first started out - I've grown up since then.

Those Amish quilts are so incredible aren't they. Very inspirational.