Sunday, March 23, 2014

My First Quilt

I do have my very first quilt. In bringing it out of the storage tub in my closet -- the one with my Science Olympiad medals, prom corsage, and yearbooks -- I realized it is not quite as impressive as I had remembered, and I wasn't expecting much. 

This quilt belongs to a time long before the Modern Quilt Guild existed, before I knew what a blog was, and before I came home from a quilt shop and told my husband I'd like to try quilting and needed a few supplies...I wasn't part of a quilt guild, but rather, a member of several high school clubs. The Internet was dial-up, fabric came from Wal-Mart, and I certainly wasn't married with two kids. Yep, things have changed a bit since then.


At that time of way back when, my grandmother had recently made me a quilt featuring my letter jacket letters. It was patchwork and tied, nothing overly elaborate, but it got me to thinking. Maybe I could make a quilt too.By the looks of it, my current quilting capabilities cannot be completely contributed to natural inclination. During this first experiment with quilting, I didn't know what a rotary cutter or walking foot was, that fabrics can go together without having the same value and pattern, and that some points are actually supposed to match up.


While I didn't pursue quilting in greater depth until many years later, I did return to the notion of quilting. One year into marriage, I discovered a local quilt shop during a summer break from teaching. I enrolled in a row quilt class. You were supposed to learn how to make one block in class, make six more of it at home, and end up with a quilt eight weeks later. 

Well, ignorance was bliss. I hadn't realized that the eight week time estimation wasn't terribly accurate for a complete quilting novice. Nine weeks later, I had a quilt top. That wasn't too bad for someone whose sewing experience was composed of a couple semesters of home ec. (family and consumer sciences in this day and age). After about a dozen weeks, I had myself an actual quilt, and I was hooked. 

As one not well-versed in quilting reality, I set about making oodles of the heart block from the row quilt whilst envisioning a generous king-size quilt. I pieced and sashed, and then requested information regarding how to free-motion quilt the ginormous monstrosity that I had created.
"Not a good idea on my $100 Target Singer?"
"What's this about birthing?" (Thank goodness this concept was presented before I was a mother of one, let alone two kids.) 
"Oh, I see...You think I should tie the quilt." 

The quilt shop owner fortunately managed to talk me out of my domestic machine free-motioning, especially considered my choice of super puffy poly batting. Let's not talk about how I insisted on at least adding a lace ruffle, eyelet fabric, and little heart shaped beads. Sorry, modern quilters...I imagine you're getting pretty scared right about now, and I hadn't even mentioned the tone-on-tone creams, white, and oat-ey color combination.

Then...I discovered the Elm Creek Quilt Novels, and that got me thinking again. I pondered whether quilt retreats like that did exist. That led me to Quilt Camp in the Pines, which served as a wonderful reprieve from a constant flurry of activity as an elementary teacher. 

At retreat, I began to further discover what generous, caring women quilters are. They also let me in on another life-changing insight: quilt guilds.

Now, I'm more involved in quilting that ever -- still learning and still loving the creative outlet it provides.

What's the story of your first quilt? Quilting Daily is having a contest if you'd like to share your tale.

You can win up to five items worth $200 from Interweave. If I won, my picks would include:

If you do decide to enter, leave a link to your blog post in the comment.


  1. Several years out of college, I began working at a fabric store. This was really wonderful for someone who had always sewn clothing and liked other crafts. Believe me, I had a great stash and lost part of my pay every pay day because of that. We had people coming in looking for quilting supplies. At that time there were only a couple of calico lines, gingham, some solids and muslin. I was urged to make a quilt by customers. I was not interested - why would I want to cut up little pieces and sew them back together? However, I did clip out quilts that I thought were pretty and kept them in a notebook. Fast forward several years and a move to a remote ranger station and my first child. A new family moved in and she quilted. I became fascinated and decided to give it a try. I chose one of the patterns from my notebook - log cabin and proceeded to begin with the project. I learned so much and came out with a full sized, hand quilted quilt that actually won a first place ribbon at the county fair. We use it regularly now - it's a little faded in spots (it was a lot of those early calicos) but it's in good shape and I find it satisfying that it still inspires me.

  2. I am a home health nurse. I was introduced to quilting by a patient, a 98 year old patient. She hand pieced and quilted all of the hundreds of quilts she had made. I found her talents soothing and productive. She showed me the basics. Gave me several of her patterns and I was off and running. I finished two quilts on my machine that she raved about and she was quite verbal about her love of hand quilting. I finally took the plunge. I hand cut, hand pieced and hand quilted a quilt for my Mom. The unfortunate truth is the Mrs Verna passed away at the age of 100 before I had completed my project. She gave me a gift that I hope to one day share with my daughter. ~Karen

  3. Afton this is a nice story of how you were bitten by the quilting bug. That super puffy quilt cracks me up, but I think we have all had a point where our level of understanding was greatly out weighed by the skill set required to accomplish what exists in our mind's eye. I know I have been there more than once....and that was just this month! Thanks for sharing.