This is the first stop on a 10-stop blog hop exploring how quilters and sewists got started quilting and sewing. The complete list of blogs with links is at the end of this post.
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t sew. Whether I was pulling yarn through fabric with a fat, blunt needle or making simple clothes for my dolls, I’ve always worked with fabric to make things. The girls in my family all learned to sew on Mom’s Singer sewing machine. Sewing was a useful skill, and we mastered that along with vegetable gardening and basic cooking. Through middle and high school, I wore some really embarrassing homemade clothes. Tim Gunn would have said they looked like “Happy Hands at Home,” but I was so proud of my creations.
In the early 1980’s, my sister Vicki learned quilting from a friend of hers. Her friend would accept no money for the lessons; she taught quilting on the condition that her students would teach others. Pay it forward. Everything was done by hand with modern tools like sandpaper templates, sharp pencils, and scissors. Vicki and I shared a love of needlework. As soon as she learned to quilt, she taught me.
My first project was a simple navy and white sailboat pattern made with half-square triangles painstakingly hand-pieced and then hand quilted. I made the block into a pillow and gave it to my sister as a gift. The pillow is long gone with no pictures to prove its existence, but I can present my first quilt as evidence of how much I had to learn.
My grandmother made puff quilts; you may know them as biscuit quilts. Nana constructed each puff by hand, pieced them together by hand, and finished the quilts by hand. She cut up nylon stockings for stuffing each puff and used worn out clothing and scraps from homemade clothes for the decorative puff tops. She made a quilt for my brother, working long days to finish it. I had never seen anything so beautiful; oh, how I wanted one. Ultimately, I made my own. I learned so many lessons on that quilt: test any pattern changes you want to make, think things through, and plan. My king-sized, flannel-backed monstrosity of a puff quilt weighs more than a bag of potting soil. Enough said.
I quickly made the transition to machine piecing and, more slowly, to machine quilting. I took classes that intrigued me and read every book I could get my hands on. I met other quilters and learned something every time we sat down to work together. I had found my people. And I had found my art form. Bodies change and clothing no longer fits; walls don’t outgrow their quilts.
Now I am a professional quilter. I make art quilts and celebration quilts on commission. I teach art quilting and I’m inspired by my students every time we meet. I travel to give lectures and workshops, and I teach at the IQA Quilt Show in Houston. I realized my lifelong dream of being a published author this spring with the publication of Creating Celebration Quilts.
If I had a week with no responsibilities, I’d quilt. Whether I’d attack my pile of UFOs or start something new, I don’t know. What I do know is this: quilting calms me, excites me, fulfills me, and makes everything right in my world.
Please visit the other blogs on the tour to learn more about how we become who we are: quilters.
Aug 1. Cyndi Zacheis Souder
Aug 2. Becky Glasby
Aug 3. Cheryl Sleboda
Aug 4. Barb Forrister
Aug 5. Jackie White
Aug 6. Tracy Mooney
Aug 7. Lisa Chin
Aug 8. Laura Krasinski
Aug 9. Catherine Redford
Aug 10. Sylvia Lewis