Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A quilter's home in need of quilts...

In 1999, after watching literally every quilt I had ever made walk out the door as a gift, except one for my daughter, my husband made a request. He wanted a quilt. He was raised to appreciate all handcrafts and he had always liked and appreciated my quilts-- he just wanted to be able to appreciate them more in fact! 
We looked through quilting books for a pattern he would like. His top choices: Mariners Compass OR  Trip Around the World ( with 1" blocks!). He also liked all the intricate quilting on Amish quilts.  Gulp.
He was completely in favor of me machine piecing the quilt (all quilts in fact) because he knew he would get his quilt much, much sooner.
Okay, I was a relatively new quilter but I knew enough to know that Mariners Compass was way beyond my ability level and since he wanted his quilt soon, the Trip Around the World quilt done in twin size with one inch squares was not happenin' either.  Remember, I cut all my pieces out with templates and scissors at this point.  I had yet to be introduced to a quilters best friend -- the rotary cutter! 
So we went with a version of the Amish pattern "Chinese Coins". Thinking that I would do some fancy quilting in the open areas, it would be easy to machine piece done with stacked brick shapes.  He wanted the quilt to look Americana and to look older than it was.  
Not having this type of thing in my stash (and having thoroughly checked my mothers as well, like a good daughter! ) I "went on the hunt" for fabrics. Luckily, in upstate New York my mom found a quilt shop near her that had vintage looking fabrics.  I found exactly what I needed for his quilt. Here it is completed.
This quilt was the first I had ever marked for quilting. Prior to this I just quilted a quarter inch from the seams or in a large shapes I might have quilted a diagonal or something simple.  I used Warm and Natural Batting because it was snug and I liked the heaviness it brought but, it isn't exactly a quilters dream to hand quilt through...
I found a diamond chain stencil at Joann's and thought it was good and not too girly. It came out really well and in a timely manner, much to my surprise but, because I didn't really know at the time the importance of the quilting to a quilt's life span I didn't quilt it enough and it is showing some wear now. Some of that wear is also because this is the other quilt at the end of our bed. It is used every single day. It is also the last quilt I hand quilted to date.
Fast forward to 2006--for our tenth anniversary (six years later) having learned a lot about machine piecing and quilting including paper piecing-- I surprised my husband with his first choice for a quilt pattern- 
The Mariners Compass.
Remember I quilt in waves - things come up and get pushed aside again many times sometimes before they "happen". At many quilt shows and flipping through many books over the years my husband always admired the Mariners Compass quilts and so, the Mariners Compass had to "happen" at last.  It was not the twin sized masterpiece he might have originally imagined but it hangs directly across from his desk in his office at work.  So I am thinking he likes it.  If he hadn't encouraged me to start doing things by machine I might never have, and I am SO glad I did!
Therefore, thanks to my husband's support and encouragement we now have lots of quilts in our house, machine pieced and quilted.  

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I started this blog with the idea of telling "my story" chronologically, but my quilts aren't made chronologically... they are made in waves.  For example, I remember learning to hand piece from my mother when I was 14 years old--1989 ish? My mom helped me piece this block.
It got tossed aside and forgotten about until I was married and expecting a baby several years later in 1996. In the middle of nesting and feeling very much the stay at home wife/soon to be mom/crafter,  I pulled it out and brought it up to my mother, asking about the brown floral fabric thinking to make some more blocks for a sampler. 
It was gone of course. She thought maybe it was given to my grandmother? whom she was teaching to quilt during the years I was in college, getting married and getting pregnant. I moved on and made some other quilts but those stories are for other posts...
The block came up again when my grandmother passed away a few years later in 2002--my mom found the brown fabric in my Grandma's stash and gave it back to me remembering I had asked for it before.  There wasn't a lot left of it but, I was able to use it as the inner border for this quilt which I finished machine quilting in 2004.  My very first block became the label. So it took 15 years, but it landed in a quilt- finally!
The brown floral border was exactly the soft brown I wanted to make all the star points pop and it adds sentimentality to the quilt because that fabric was at one time owned and used by my mother and my grandmother.  It is the only quilt I have made for myself so far and, it still lays at the end of my bed. It is my favorite nap quilt.
I love it when hanging on to a project (or partial project) ends up in a serendipitous moment down the road when I suddenly realize it is exactly what I need to finish a quilt or project I am working on.
 The star points in this quilt were received in a fabric exchange I participated in with some quilting friends. This quilt was one of my first attempts at machine quilting.  I didn't have a fancy sewing machine, just a sturdy little Kenmore my husband had bought for me our first Christmas together.  I learned an awful lot while sewing on that machine! This whole quilt was quilted with a walking foot.  It is covered with wavy lines about 2 inches apart going down the length of the quilt. It isn't anything beautiful or artistic but it is well made, comfy and enriched with stories and memories of how it came to be.