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 10yrs,ago but didn't get as addicted to it as I am now 'tillabout5yrs, ago. I started quiltinq so the art would not be lost in our family. My grandmother and my one aunt quilted for years-all by hand. Neither ever owned a machine. There were 6 girls in the family and my mom told me that when they got married they each had 5-6 quilts to take with them. My grandmother died when I was 10 but her legacy lived on in her quilts. I've always been interested in how they did things in the pioner days so it seemed quite natural to take up quilting. I will admit that I do use my machine for piecing and I have been sending my quilts out to a longarm quilter so they can actually be finished. But now that I have joined this group I have changed my ways a bit. Since Christmas I have handquilted 4 projects. Not big ones but it is a start.Ialso have started EPP which I love and I have been a dedicated hand appliquer since I started quilting. I find it very relaxing. Even at my age I know there is room for learning new skills and techniques. I have also found that easy and fast isn't always the best. I love looking at the beautiful handquilting some women do and I am determined to bring it back into my family. Piece by piece.I too can not imagine my life without quilting and all of the friendships I have made with other quilters.
Diane, what a great story. That's what quilting is all about - learning, sharing and passing it on.

I learned to quilt by way of garment construction. I learned to sew in high school and when my second son was born in 1973, it was the beginning of the quilt revival during the bicentennial. The first quilt was a rail fence baby quilt made from clothing fabric scraps. Yes, polyester and, come to think of it, pretty ugly! From there I was hooked! I learned from books and classes, started teaching and then became an NQA certified judge. Then my DH and I designed and marketed a science fiction, fantasy and horror trivia board game which we sold at sf & horror conventions - At that time, I entered the world of costuming with what they call hall costumes - not presented at the masquerade, but worn around the con. It was a great ice breaker to talk to people and a great chance for me to join quliting, garment making and sf. Great fun and I still have almost as many UFO costumes as I do "regular" quilts!

I've been making quilts ever since the bicentennial, but have had to slow down a bit because of my landscape design business...you know about owning your own business - 24-7, 365. I do have some time over the winter after I finish decorating client's homes for the holidays and hope that keeping up with the CT online community will encourage to keep it up to a lesser extent over the summer.

Budsgram - thanks for starting this discussion - I guess I'm just nosy enough to, like you, want to learn how people became as crazy about quilting as we are! Barb
Every so often I think about "how did I ever get into this." In 1976 our country was thinking about its big celebration. Folks were dressing in the old costumes and many of the old traditions and ways of doing things became resurrected. I was attending a meeting of a group of farmers wives (I was a farmer's wife then). The group was called Home Bureau (out of our local cooperative extension). Someone was talking about doing a fund-raiser for our local chapter and someone else suggested "wouldn't it be nice to do a quilt in the old style, everyone sitting around the frame in someone's living room." Well, while I came from a home where mom and grandma did hand and machine sewing, I had no idea that ladies actually made quilts. Certainly my mother was not into that.

One of the ladies in our group said she had a quilt in an old trunk in her attic that had never been finished and we could use that. Well, now they got my curiosity peeked. I could not get over the fact that people did this. Who knew? I was so taken by all those small hand stitches, the very next day I went to the only known fabric store in the area - low and behold there was a brochure with some simple quilt designs. I bought it, took it home and was hooked. I guess they would say, the rest is history. Everyone in our family got a quilt for Christmas that year. Of course my mother laughed at me and said, I certainly could get something from a store and that would take less time - but that was not the point for me. The point was, I learned a very valuable lesson on how women took care of their homes back in "those days." I learned a valuable skill. Years later when my life was coming apart and my stress level was over the roof tops, quilting was my source of therapy. It was also something that, although my mother did not see its value, I did, and was able to pass it down to my daughters.

My oldest daughter, who lives far too many miles away now, always says she so looks forward to packages from mom - even though she is now a Mom herself, she wants my quilts all around her house to keep us connected. Thanks for asking us to share our stories. I think we need to keep doing that. That's our history too. Joyce
OMG, Joyce - my mother said almost the exact same thing about my quilting - "Why would you want to buy fabric, cut it into pieces and then sew it back together again?" Maybe that made me get into it more! There aren't many girls in the family and no quilters, but I have a 5 year-old grand niece who loves the quilts I've made her and have a granddaughter on the way in September - I'm hoping to pass my love of gardening and qiulting on to her.

Speaking of history - don't forget to sign and date your quilts, either with a formal label or quilted into the borders. Barb
I love the stories so far, and am looking forward to reading more of them.

For me as a little girl, my head was in books and using my imagination to play outside. I adored my very tall and very pretty aunt, wanting to be just like her. She sews and told me to learn the basics in HomeEc in 7th grade and then she would teach me anything I wanted to know. lol After the 6 weeks of class in the basics of making a blouse, I never needed to ask her for her help. I was like a fish finally finding the water to swim in!

I had been a sewer for decades, when in the fall of 1993 I accidentally caught a Quilt In A Day episode with Eleanor Burns instead of a Sewing With Nancy show. She was making a Christmas quilt block, and I decided to watch the show even though I thought I probably couldn't learn how to quilt. All the way through each step of the block in the show I kept saying to myself "I could do that...", and when the show was over I was ready to get started! lol

My sewing room already had a mat and rotary cutter, so I asked for a quilt book, ruler and stuff for Christmas. My DH got me everything but the fabric so I read the book from cover to cover. It came with a tool for that type of quilt, but he'd not given me any fabric and I'd never had a stash before. So the next morning my nose was pressed to the glass as I waited for the fabric store to open (no quilt shops around that area then), and I haven't looked back since.

Just as someone mentioned, I had been taught a love of history as a child and had always tried to relate things to actual living breathing people rather than the two dimensional ones on the pages that I read. So I have always had a keen interest in how people "back then" lived. After all, at the time I wanted to be an archeologist! So it was not a giant leap for me to want to know what quilting was like for women a long time ago.

A friend tried to teach me how to hand piece in the late 90's, but it didn't "take". I still have the sample she gave me somewhere. lol She wasn't good at explaining and I didn't run across anyone again until about 3 years ago who knew how to do that. She showed me one seam once and the light bulb went on in my head immediately. I've been hooked ever since. I love hand piecing.

A different friend, through email and snail mail samples, taught me hand applique in early 1995. She is an excellent appliquer and I love using that skill also. The hand quilting I learned from a small booklet that was an excerpt from Roxanne's Perfect Quilt Stitch that I got with a small wholecloth kit. Again...loved it!

Since learning those skills, I've watched other quilters demonstrate what they do (when it's a different technique), learned how to do it, and have kept it in my memory to use when and where appropriate. While I still do a lot of machine work, I can see a day when I may do almost all of my work by hand. Until then, I use the machine also.
Great story! I'm like you, I love to do hand work. It started with embroidery and knitting as a "young girl" and quickly turned to quilting. My favorites are hand applique and quilting (why I joined the hand quilting group), but unfortunately won't get ANYTHING finished if I do that exclusively. I hope to have time to hand quilt one for my grandchild coming in September. Barb
Here is my story. This took place in the mid 70's. I had 3 very small children,, 4, 2 & newborn, and needed to do something for me!! I mainly quilted at night,,, never cared for TV and still don't. I started with a kit from Herrschnerrs [sp?] called Williamsburg. My husband thought his parents would like it. Cross stitched the design, bought a floor quilt frame, and got to work. Never knew anyone that quilted, so I did the stab stitch. Its the way I still quilt, to this day.

I was almost done with the quilt, when my middle son came up to me and said MOM, watch this. He proceeded to take a drink of orange koolaid, then hit his cheeks!! Yep,,, orange drink all over the quilt!!! Only thing I could do was finish it, then wash it. Washed the quilt,,, didn't have any idea, that the cotton batting would shrink,, it was in lumps all over the quilt. Orange did come out, btw. Had to take it apart and redo the whole thing. Gave the quilt to my in-laws, and about 5 years later they returned it. Wasn't something they wanted. Didn't return it in the best condition, but it was my first quilt, so it remains on my quilt rack.

I love hand applique, hand quilting, machine piecing, and hand piecing. I have a HQ16 which I am still trying to learn,,, will master that one of these days.

Been trying to get my quilts up on the site, but the printer has decided it doesn't scan anymore. No idea why not,, it used to.

So thats my story,,, I have never really got off track,, did take some side steps and do cross stitch for awhile, but quilting has been what I want to do. Used to sew clothes, but that is definitely something I DON'T want to do anymore.

Enjoy reading the stories, and the threads that keep us together. Lynne
Lynne - and your son is still breathing!?!?! I know - they are our children and love them no matter what! Great story and glad you're still quilting! Barb
Lynne my son bought back the 1st quilt I made, I thought my ex had it, my son wanted me to fix it, and I did he loved it, I have another peply on here about why I started quilting I made that one and gave it to the person that I believed God wanted me to, They said my Mom will love this, so I guess that is where my second one went.
When I was 36 - eons ago - I was diagnosed with mononeucleosis and spent 6 weeks in bed. I did counted cross stitch, I crocheted, I did needlepoint. When I was finally back on my feet I swore I would never ever do needlework again. That was in 1983 and I held true to my vow until January 2005. I have two sisters who quilt and they had nagged me for years to give it a try but I resisted. Then in 2004, my husband of 40 years – and still best friend – died following a heart transplant. I was lost. After I had cleaned, waxed and polished every surface in my house, painted inside and out, gardened to the last nth of space and read just about every book I could lay my hands on, I realized I had to find something to do with my time and hands and mind. I tentatively asked one of my sisters about quilting. She gave me a stack of books to look at, many with small projects, but the one that caught my eye was Barbara Brackman's "Kansas Prairie Flowers," a queen-sized appliqued bedspread. And I wanted to hand-quilt it. Neither sister said a word to dissuade me from tackling such a major project. They just aided and abetted me when and wherever they could. After I realized learning to hand quilt was not going to be a quick thing, I tackled a couple of panels and other pieced quilts until I was happy with my stitching. Exactly three years later I decided the time was right and began quilting it. Finished it with hours to spare to enter it in our county fair last September. I was pleased to get a red ribbon because I had pieced it without asking for any advice, using my sewing skills - you know, a little ease is a good thing? Corners were off, borders were wavy, but I have to say - the quilting was just fine.
Now I, too, can't imagine not quilting. My sisters laugh because I do about two quilts to their every one, have completed about a dozen, am working on two at the same time and have another seven lined up waiting. I keep telling them the difference is because I don't have something they do that takes time to nurture – a husband!
I figure that even if the economy continues to spiral out of control, I have enough fabric, thread, needles and ideas to keep me going for another decade or so!
Hope this isn't too maudlin, but as Collin Raye sings, "it's my story and I'm sticking to it!"
Kit, so sorry to hear about your husband and really happy that you have such a supportive family to back you up without pushing unless you need or ask for it. I'm with you on the stash and the economy...I say that I'm buying now so when I retire and can't afford fabric, I'll have plenty!

Thanks for sharing your story. Barb
You moved me to tears as I read your story of how you started quilting. Quilting has filled holes in my life since I started quilting--not such a large and painful hole as yours, but I can see it and feel it. Thank you for sharing. Joana


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