Quilt With Us

I thought some stories about how you started quilting might be interesting. I took a class in the mid eighties. It was back when the rulers had a lip that slid along the side of the mat. My first rotary cutter was very small. Then we moved and I started working outside of the home and did that until about a year ago. About 2 years ago, I did start making a few more quilts, and tried to learn machine quilting. I liked it ok for baby quilts that I gave as gifts, but I always wanted to hand quilt. I tried to learn by watching quilting shows but not to many episodes are geared to hand quilting. Then last fall I really started investigating and learning everything I could find about hand quilting. I don't think I am great at it but I feel I finally have a rhythm and really enjoy it. I also enjoy english paper piecing. I have never tried hand applique but, maybe it is because I find that is the one thing I really enjoy doing by machine. I know it doesn't make any sense. My goal is finish some minature traditional quilts. Lately I have been learning about techniques and tips to get my piecing as accurate as possible. There is no room for sloppyness when the pieces get smaller. I am not sure what makes me love quilts and sewing so much.....................but I can't imagine not quilting.

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I started quilting about 6-7 years ago (give or take a year).

Growing up my mom was always a whiz at everything - drawing, painting, sewing (she was a professional seamstress), ceramics (she has a kiln in her basement), etc. I always felt like my attempts never lived up to her accomplishments, but I was extremely attracted to the idea of creating something.

Fast forward a few years - the crazy idea to attempt making a queen-size double Irish chain quilt popped into my head. My mom learned along w/me & I didn't feel intimidated at all.

I love quilting (I'm a hand quilter) & look forward to starting & finishing many more projects.

I am so glad that you found what suited you. I love hand quilting, it is so relaxing. Welcome to our group and I look forward to hearing your quilting stories and ideas.
thanks! I also find that hand quilting allows me to not feel like a lump on a log if I decide to watch a little TV or pop in a movie. :D
In my family, the women never sat with their hands idle---my mother and her mother crocheted (my GM's were a trip--when she finished out one color of yarn, she picked up the next ball without regard to color. My favorite is dark browns and oranges finished with a half row of bright pink at the outer edge). My other grandmother quilted and tatted, sewed her own clothes, etc. But my mom would shoo me off to do school work so I never learned to sew.

When I married my husband realized how desperately I wanted to learn to sew and gave me a sewing machine, encouraged me in learning to cross stitch, and pushed me (gently) to take sewing lessons. I will always love him for encouraging me to lose my fear of failure and try something new. It took a number of false starts, four rounds of sewing lessons, and lots of mistakes, but I learned to sew.

It took several years for me to get the courage to try making a quilt. I had lots of cotton scraps from the curtains, baby clothes, etc. I had sewn. A dear home-schooling friend from South Africa gave me a quilt book as a going away present when we moved, and I decided to try it. It took me months to piece my scrappy nine-patch, and I had just started to hand quilt it when we moved again in June 2000 to a quilt-maker's heaven--Alaska. I found myself at home in a group of quilters there. I finished that quilt for my son and never looked back.

We have been back in the lower 48 for several years now, and I'm still quilting. I find it exhilerating to create something beautiful and lasting. I've been a stay at home, home schooling mom and am about to send my youngest off to college in the fall. I'm so thankful that through the years I've developed this side of me that's just me. I don't feel "empty" as I finish this stage of my life. While I occasionally retreat to the bathroom and cry a little (OK maybe that's a litte dose of hormones too), I have lots of exciting things to do. And I have the added bonus of sending my kids out with a tangible expression of my love that will wrap around them like a hug.

Have to go--my best friend's pinning gift is calling me. Just a few more hours of hand quilting, and its on to the next adventure.
I started Quilting because I thought it would be easy. I used to paint oil portraits, which is needless to say, a precise sometimes difficult thing to do. I was looking for something that I would not get too caught up in and would be fun.

Hmmmm, seems I brought my detail oriented personality with me to this new hobby because what am I doing now?
.. I am appliqueing with pieces so small that if I don' have my glasses on, I cannot find them.

Seems there are a lot of different paths lead to being a quilter!
My grandmother, mother, and a lot of the neighbor ladies, (aunts, and cousins) always quilted around us, my grandmother didn't read or write, but she raised 14 children and took care of her house and always managed to find a little time to piece a quilt, she did it all by hand, as did my mother,, my mother had a machine and sewed for us girls, but quilts were made by hand,,,before I ever started school, my mom took me with her on quilt day, to visit, all the ladies in the neighborhood got together and worked on things, they would set up a quilt frame and quilt it out in a day, they became known as the Cheerful Ladies, for obvious reasons and that club is still around today, although it won't be for much longer, I am one of 5 left, and I am the youngest, at 50, but some of the best times that I remember with my granny, was ironing quilt pieces while she cut her blocks, we would sort the colors and make sure it was big enough for what she was doing and those scrap boxes were like gold ...my mother had polio as a baby and because she wasn't always able to do witlh the other children she learned to quilt, she was 9 when she started working on them, and my grandmother let her have her own quilt party to quilt a doll bed quilt with her friends, they had lunch and everything, my mother was a tremendous quilter and quilted for others as well, she supplemented the family income at times by "taking in" quilting and continued to do so until she passed away in March....She loved to quilt and piece and plan, and I guess it just rubbed off,,,I have 3 sisters who also can quilt, but I suppose I do the most of it...It was such a part of our lives, that we didn't realize that everyone didn't do it....My boys each have 3 quilts that my momma made for them and all of us have quilts that she has made, There was hardly ever a baby shower that she didn't have a quilt ready for and if she didn't make one for it, the mother to be , was either a quilter or the daughter of a quilter who was making them for her...I think we need to remember these things and we have pictures of my mom quilting and it is a real treasure to be able to carry this on for all of us..
My story is different from so many of yours here!! My mom never did any fabric work, and I taught myself to knot at an early age. My one grandma machine quilted covers for all of us, but just your basics. Still treasured it, though. many years later, I started reading the Elm Creek Quilters books, and was just struck by a NEED to quilt!! I am from Kentucky, transplanted to California, and very much wanted to connect with the women who forged such an identity in their quilts, so to this day all my work is by hand. I took a one day class in rotary cutting at Joanne's, then discovered some websites and ordered books and my quilting just took off. I have a son who is VERY supportive of quilts, and is always helping me choose patterns and colors. I have re-started knitting, but also have one quilt going at our house in the mountains and one quilt going at home (although I am taking part in a round robin that is draggingon so long I am about to scream!!, so my "home" quilt is still in the dream stage).
Last summer my mom, sister and I went to Paducah and spent a day at the AQS quilt museum, which was about as close to heaven as I've been!!
I started quilting when we were living in New Mexico and one of my friends in my cross-stitch group took a class at a local store. I was really impressed with her work, and took a class too! It really didn't take off until living in Germany, when I would quilt with another American spouse whose husband was in the First Gulf War in 1990-91. She taught me to knit, and I taught her to quilt! We had a blast doing that, although finding suitable fabrics on the German economy was not easy, at least where we were living. When my ex left the AF in 1991 and we moved back to the US, we lived with my parents for a few months while trying to find a house. With two little girls, I HAD to get out of the house, so I joined a guild and took a class from the local park district program. At the end of the course, the teacher approached me and said that her husband was retiring and they were moving -- and she thought I would enjoy teaching her classes. Before too long, I was teaching four evenings a week! That lasted for a few years, until my ex decided that he had to move to the DC area -- that was when I joined my first online quilting forum (through Prodigy). I have been an actual high school history teacher for the past 10 years, and that, along with raising my teenaged daughters on my own, left me with little time for quilting. I am going to be changing that!
I've enjoyed reading all these stories - there are so many similarities, but yet each is unique in some way - just like each of us is unique. Here is my story:

When I was 6, my mom taught me to do cross stitch embroidery on quarter-inch gingham. I feel like I've had a needle in my hand ever since. She was (and still is) an amazing seamstress. Of course, I didn't really appreciate that then, since I rarely got to buy store clothes, but I did have the best-dressed Barbie dolls in the neighborhood! When I was about 10 or 11, she taught me to use the sewing machine and to make clothes. I remember making a hideously ugly nightgown that I was still wearing when I went to college (the pattern was a couple of sizes too big for me!). When I took home ec in junior high, it was the easiest class ever - I already knew everything from Mom. I kept sewing all through high school until I got to college and just didn't have the time (or Mom there for help and moral support). I was in high school during the bicentinnial period, and I loved looking at the quilts in Mom's craft magazines. My P-grandma had some quilt tops that her mother had made before she died, but had never quilted. They were awe-inspiring. Grandma didn't sew - anything she needed done she took to my mom - but she tatted. My M-grandma lived in another state and I rarely saw her, but she knitted and would send sweaters for Christmas. My mom, besides making clothes, did needlepoint and embroidery (when counted cross stitch became popular, she did that exclusively). Each woman in the family had some type of fancy needlework that they specialized in - I just needed to find mine. I never tried knitting, but I learned how to tat, and needlepoint, and of course I'd learned embroidery from an early age. I married while still in college and my husband's grandma taught me crochet. But those quilting patterns still fascinated me, so as soon as I graduated, I found the best teach-yourself book I could get my hands on and did just that. At first, I did machine piecing and hand quilting, but the quilting was pretty "primitive". My first quilt was a baby quilt for my oldest son. As the babies kept coming (I ended up with 4), I found that sewing on the machine to be just another chore (I made PJ's and shorts and overalls for them, plus lots of mending), and definitely not fun. I tried hand-piecing and loved how relaxing it was to sit in the same room with the family, with my feet propped up in the evening, and piecing quilt blocks. I finally took a hand quilting class during my 3rd pregnancy and began doing work I could take some pride in. I rarely finished anything - as my husband pointed out more than once (much more). I kept trying to explain that the finished product wasn't the point - it was the doing that was important - the hand work was relaxing and fun for me. Now that my kids are mostly grown, I am beginning to finish most of what I start. I'm back to doing most of my piecing on the machine, and have even started sending some things out for machine quilting because I can't quilt that fast, but I've always got several hand piecing-applique-quilting projects going. I don't think I'll ever reach quilt-show proficiency, but I love handling the fabric, working the patterns, putting love into each and every stitch that I put in by hand. My daughter hasn't shown a proficiency for needlework, but I'm hoping for granddaughters someday. However, my mom has taken up quilting - almost totally giving up her needlepoint and embroidery.
I started quilting becauce I had a dream that I made a quilt for someone I didn't know at the time. I didn't have a sewing machine or materical, I started hand sewing old shirts, skirts, and old dresses, then started getting new materical for the border. It was around 1988. I'm on my 3rd sewing machine now. Singer is the one I am on now.
Your story just shows if there is a will there is a way! Sounds like you have been quite busy over the last twenty years making quilts!
Thanks for starting this wonderful discussion, Budsgram. I absolutely love hearing about how all of you started handquilting. So here's my story:
I've always loved to sew. From before I can remember, I was at Mother's knee sewing. She made all our clothes, but had left quilting in the dust after WWII and vowed never to do it again. She wasn't into hand sewing at all. However, bless her heart for interesting me in the process of sewing. My grandmother took all her mending to the tailor and never did sew on a button to my knowledge.
In 1973 after the birth of our second son, I discovered, quite by chance, weaving. So I took classes and started. Then spinning, then dyeing. I'd already conquered knitting, crochet & embroidery by then so textiles were kind of ingrained in me. Then one day, in about 1990, when I was experiencing a recurrent bout of back pain, a friend was talking about making a quilt. Her remark was "Everyone can participate because everyone knows how to quilt." Well, this "everyone" didn't, so it was like a red flag in front of a bull for me. So then I was at another friend's home one day and her house was filled with quilts. FILLED!! Ahha!, I said to myself...and promptly asked her if she'd teach me how to make a quilt. From that first log cabin (with the help of Eleanor Burns' book) I pieced by machine for a year and realized that besides the fact that my Bernina was burnt out, I really hated the sound of a machine. So I started looking for alternatives and found applique. I've been there ever since. Then I discovered Baltimore Album quilts and was totally hooked. But, you see, I always kept handquilting. I love the rhythm and the peace that it brings me. I always feel that I'm 'with the ladies who came before me' somehow. Maybe it's because I'm drawn to historic quilt patterns more than modern ones. But whatever the quilt, I always think about whether it deserves handquilting or not. It's my joy. And, besides, I wouldn't have met Diane & Susan if I didn't quilt ...that'd never do!


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