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High Fiber—A Look Back, Part II: Quilting

Last week, we had a look at some of my older knitting projects. This week I'm going to show you some of my quilting projects from yesteryear, before I started my blog. Let's start with my first quilt ever...sort of:

I eased into quilting by learning hand-quilting from my church youth group leader when I was 17. A couple of years later, when I was in college and living in my own little converted garage apartment, I decided to make the same quilt with the scraps left over from my sewing projects. The quilt we had quilted was a glorified 9-patch, hand-pieced, so I thought mine had to be hand-pieced, too. (It never occurred to me that perhaps a glorified 9-patch might not be the best beginner quilt.) I put it together and used polyester batting, polyester thread, and fabrics that were cotton, polyester and poly-cotton blends. Over the years, the batting wore out the backing, the background and some of the fabrics in the blocks, and the polyester thread cut through the cotton fabrics. I was broken-hearted, but I refused to throw it away. It depressed me for years. Finally, in 2002, I separated the layers, removed the background fabric, and began replacing the block and background fabrics that had worn out. When it was put back together again, I hand-quilted it as before. It now has a label that tells its story. I call it "1962 Revisited."

In 1975 I made my second quilt as a Christmas present for my sister-in-law, using fabrics I had left over from clothes I made for our kids and my husband. Years later, when my sister-in-law knew she was dying, she gave it back to me on my birthday. (My hand-quilting stitches are HUGE! And, oh, yeah. Did you notice my second beginner quilt was a Lemoyne Star? I had no idea. Don't try this at home, boys and girls!)

I think somewhere there must be a fairy who looks after beginning quilters. I also knew nothing about color, contrast, etc. 

My third quilt came after I took a quilting class with a friend in California and discovered strip piecing and the rotary cutter. It was a log cabin in blues and beiges. We took it with us when we moved to Indonesia, and it was heavily washed. It's still in existence, but it's pretty faded. The teacher had us fold the backing over the quilt top for "binding." (I had used bias binding on the previous two quilts.) Maybe I'll post a photo of this quilt someday.

When we lived in England in 1988-89, I took a crazy trip to Norwich with my parents, where we went to a church service at the tiny church in Fritton, a few miles from Morningthorpe, where my English ancestors used to live. The three of us almost doubled the size of the congregation, and, yes, we arrived late, and the door to the church squeaked. They were thrilled to meet three Americans with roots in their land. The organist and his wife invited us to come home for sherry, and the vicar and his wife had us for dinner. A few months later the organist and his wife hosted our whole family (DH, our two younger kids and me) for a great weekend. Stateside again in 1990, I made them this Pine Tree quilt. Their son took it with him when he left home to go to college.

I made a quilt for our daughter for her graduation from high school. She wanted me to back it with the same sheets she was using on her bed. That was how I learned that hand-quilting through sheets isn't a good idea. She was planning on majoring in literature in college, so each block represented a different famous work of literature.

This is where I lose track of how many quilts I've made. In Indonesia, I learned that the converted power was bad for sewing machines, so I bought quilts and added hand-quilting, so I could improve my technique. Ironically, it never occurred to me to hand-piece a quilt. Hmmmmm.

While we lived in Houston, after returning to the US from Indonesia, I decided in a moment of insanity to make a Grandmother's Flower Garden. First I made a bow-tie quilt I called "Grandfather's Closet" to go with it.

Here's my Grandmother's Flower Garden, using '30s reproduction fabrics. I used Quilt Patis, which are a plastic version of the papers for English Paper Piecing but require fewer stitches during the preparation, only one for each corner and an extra at the starting corner. It took me nine months to finish. I was sick of it by the time I finished it, but I love it now.

I gathered the fabrics for this Ohio Star quilt while visiting my mother-in-law in San Diego. Mostly 19th Century reproduction fabrics went into it. I finished it in 2001. I tried to copy the techniques and style of quilters of the era. The flying geese gave me fits. I had to resew a number of times to get them the same size.

"A Thousand Years of Friendships," was made to commemorate the Millennium. I finished it in 2000. The design is a friendship star, also called ribbon star or lattice star. Usually you see the "ribbons" completed around the edges, but I chose to have the pattern just float off the edge. It's hanging in my hall now.


Lois'Quilt was made from the Keepsake Quilting Millennium Quilt kit, which was given to me by a friend who was moving away and was destashing. Of the 2,000 4" squares in the kit, I used about 900 to make this quilt, which is queen size. I separated the squares into light, dark and medium (I guessed!) and then matched the medium squares up with either very light or very dark, depending on what I needed. I made the pairs into two half-square triangles each and then played with them to get this design.

After I finished quilting it, I saw the identical design in a quilting magazine, a photo of a quilt from the late 1800s. I guess it wasn't original after all. I took it with me to work on on the trip with our younger son to Toronto, where he had taken a job. He and I took turns driving a U-Haul truck, and I flew back. Every time I look at this quilt, it reminds me of the trip and the few days I spend there with him, helping him pick out a flat and moving in.

A group at my church worked with me to make this quilt using the leftover 1100 4" squares from the Keepsake Quilting Millennium Quilt Kit. We had a raffle (in Utah, called "Opportunity," because raffles are illegal) to make money for our music program. I let the quilters decide how to arrange the half-square triangles. We hand-quilted this quilt on a frame.

I made this Carolina Lily quilt in a class and presented it to my husband's cousin in Finland. I learned that it's hard to hand-quilt on batik!

This table runner was a present for another cousin in Finland:

My wagon-wheel quilt, called "Memories of Jamaica Plain," is a replica of my memories of the quilt that was on my bed when I was a child in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. I had no idea at the time that the fabrics were from the '30s, but my parents were young newlyweds during the depression, so it makes sense. When I was looking for reproduction fabric, I searched in vain for the sometimes-green, sometimes-blue fabric with little white squirrels on it, and although I found a green fabric with little animals, including squirrels, I never found the exact one. I remember going to sleep at night stroking the little squirrels, and this quilt evokes those memories.

The quilt hanging in the window was one I bought in Indonesia and hand quilted.

Our quilt guild had a block exchange. We were using the Square-in-a-square Ruler, using bright homespuns. I added dark homespuns to the brights, just 'cause. I don't seem to have a photo of it, but you can see it on the bed, peeking out from under the orange-and-white quilt.

Here's the story about that quilt at the foot of the bed. A good friend brought a quilt to a guild meeting and told us she had found in a thrift shop. When she pulled it out of the bag, I got chills. I got permission to copy it, although she didn't want me to copy it's one (perhaps intentional) mistake. I also designed my own quilting design. It's a Devil's Claw block:

This is the first of five quilts with wool Navy blankets used as batting. The blankets belonged to my in-laws. The fabrics are all cotton flannel with a plain cotton flannel backing, which varies from quilt to quilt. I tied the quilts because they are too thick and dense to quilt through. The theme came from an event that happened after my mother-in-law passed away. We were sitting around in her beautiful back yard, when a female hummingbird came. The little bird hovered in front of each of us, looking us in the eyes. We all looked at each other and said that was Grandma, come to say goodbye. This first one of these quilts went to my husband's brother and his wife. (She's the one who got my second-ever quilt.) I went on to make four more: one for each of our three kids and one for us to keep. There was a label with a photo of my in-laws looking at each other and laughing. The pattern is "Block Party." DH is holding up the corner to show the label.

I have made one of these quilts for each of our three children. The last one was for us. They are very heavy! You can put a kid in bed, cover him up with this quilt, and he isn't going anywhere until you come to release him!

When our younger son moved into his first place in Toronto, I made him a quilt for a tablecloth. Later I made him two pillows to coordinate an afghan he had with his new couch.

 Another quilt from my past, "Misty's Windy Day," was a Whimsy Cottage block of the month back when Whimsy was in Heber City. Our older son and his wife have it in their home. I appliquéd an image of our white standard poodle, Misty, by then getting on in years, rather than paper-piece a dog, which would have gone where the street lamp is. (Where else would a dog be, but at a street lamp?) Now I love paper piecing, but I have a dark past where paper-piecing was virtually taboo. In fact, some of the other blocks involved paper-piecing, and I had given up in disgust and used templates!

We're coming to the end. Here is a small wall quilt I made a few years ago for a quilt challenge my guild had. The border was the challenge fabric. We had to use five fabrics, including the challenge fabric. Embroidery and embellishments were allowed. I appliquéd the (pardon me) cockroach, sombrero and letters and added goggly eyes, and spangles for castanets. I gave it to our older son and his wife, and it's on the wall of the guest room, where she does her quilting. If you don't like that it's a cockroach (pardon me), just call him a palmetto bug.

When our daughter received her doctorate, I made this quilt for her. It's from Ricky Tims' Book, Convergence Quilts. There was some fussy-cutting involved to get the cranes to look whole in some places.

This blog has turned out to be a bigger job than I expected, but it's good to have it done, so when I get senile, I can read this and remember each of these quilts. 

Today is the birthday of our president and also of our girl, Sunny. Since Sunny is a therapy dog, they are both in public service, although Sunny isn't graying as fast as the president. I think her job is easier. Happy birthday to them both, and to anyone else who shares their birthday!

Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals were harmed during the production of this blog post.

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Comment by Peggy Stuart on August 10, 2014 at 1:14pm
We're in Sisters right now. Just stopped at the Stitchin' Post for some souvenir fats and one of their sexy calendars.
Comment by Roxann on August 10, 2014 at 12:03pm

You were very brave right from the beginning! All are beautiful and I applaud your talent, then and now! Thanks for sharing, I look forward to your post every Monday! Hope you enjoyed your weekend!

Comment by Peggy Stuart on August 5, 2014 at 10:13pm
I think the orange and white is probably my favorite, too. I've come to love orange because of this quilt.
Comment by JB on August 5, 2014 at 4:01pm

Peggy, your work is lovely.  I especially love the orange and white quilt (and I don't even like orange!) and table runner for your cousin in Findland. Joleen

Comment by Peggy Stuart on August 4, 2014 at 10:51pm

Jodi, some of my quilts have slipped through the cracks, too. One lives on in the memory of our granddaughter, who put it over a card table and pretended she was in a house in the backyard. She's 21 now. It was worth making, just to have her remember it, as I did the one that was on my bed when I was a kid.

Bonnie, I hope I don't get senile, but we have Alzheimer's in the family. However, my memory has always been so bad, who will notice?

Comment by Jodi Cramer on August 4, 2014 at 6:37pm

Thanks for the terrific show!! I can relate. My first quilt was a Grandmother's Flower Garden. My teacher was a Kansas lady from 50 years ago when hardly anyone was making quilts. She didn't tell me that it was a difficult pattern so it wasn't.  It is still my favorite quilt pattern and I hope to make another soon. But like you, I had made lots, in fact ALL, of my family's clothing except for blue jeans. So the sewing machine and I were great friends. I never took pictures of all the quilts I have made and given away.

Comment by Bonnie on August 4, 2014 at 6:02pm

What a fun story to read. I don't believe you'll ever go senile, but will be active in all your activities forever.

Comment by Pam/NY on August 4, 2014 at 4:24pm

Beautiful collection and that's just your quilts not all the other talents you have! Very nice and well documented!

Comment by Peggy Stuart on August 4, 2014 at 11:35am
Like you, Cinderella, I'll be having a ball until my coach turns into a pumpkin.
Comment by cinderella pisani on August 4, 2014 at 10:40am

What a wonderful story and beautiful pictures. And just think: you still have time for many more quilts and chapters. Keep on adding your recollections.

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