Sunday, July 1, 2007

In The Beginning

In the beginning, this was all I used to make a quilt. Coats & Clark thread, cardboard from cereal boxes, a #2 pencil, a pair of scissors pulled from a drawer somewhere, a needle (any one would do) and a tape measurer (I ended up getting a 12" school ruler for the second quilt). I will never forget the day I decided I wanted to make a quilt. It was over 16 years ago. My sister in law, Sherry was in from Colorado and that evening she sat on my living room floor putting binding on a quilt she was to give to her husband's brother and his bride. It was a red, white and blue windmill. I will never forget it. I think the white background was a bed sheet. I know the red was polyester (the stretchy kind) and I think the blue was a cotton. I know I sat there thinking "that is the most beautiful quilt I have ever seen!" I sat watching her rip binding. YES, rip. She would measure out 3 thumbs widths, snip and tear. I think that was a sheet too. She sat stitching the binding on by hand and I sat mesmerized as I watched her perform what I thought was the most amazing feat I had ever seen. Oh how I wanted to do that too. Sherry spent that whole evening stitching and giving me a step by step detailed instruction of how I would make my first quilt. And I did it. I ran to Walmart the next day, supply list in hand and bought a blue with pink flowers and a pink solid. I used the 4 1/2" cardboard template Sherry had helped me make the night before (Sherry had left that morning...I was on my own) and traced each piece of fabric. I marked the sewing lines and off I went. I will admit my corners were not great but I ended up tying that one any way. It is a rag somewhere in a box in the basement.

Here is a wallhanging Sherry sent me as soon as she got home from that trip. I was never so excited about anything in my life. She explained the center did not go together as planned. The red is the same stretchy polyester from the windmill quilt. It still hangs in my home today. Right now it is in Zach's room.
She would kill me if she knew I was showing this. Even though I learned to make my first quilt from Sherry, the following summer when she returned, I introduced her to the rotary cutter and cutting mat. She was more excited than I was the year before. She took these tools back up on her mountain and shared them with her mountain quilting group. The ladies acted like they had seen a flying car! Though I began using a rotary cutter and mat, and even a olfa ruler, I continued to piece by hand. Here is my first "quilt". It is still a UFO, and I won't tell the reason as I will get mad all over again. I will finish it "someday". I learned on this quilt how to match corners, but not until I was 1/2 way through it.
This is my first hand applique. It hangs in Charlotte's bedroom. I did the prairie points because of the prairie points on Sherry's wallhanging.
I am very happy to report that I have greatly improved over the years. And so has Sherry. She sent me this little miniature several years ago. By the way, it is 100% cotton quilt shop fabric which is all she buys now. She has become a fabric snob! Though my "tools of the trade" have changed some, I have added a sewing machine, I am not a big gadget person. Simple is best! I do have a couple of favorite tools. Below is my little bowl of handquilting supplies that sits next to the sofa where I quilt. My niece made it for me in a pottery class and I love it. It holds my thread, needles, thimble and scissors. That is all I need, though that spool of thread looks like it needs to be replaced soon. Oh, and my favorite coffee cup. I love to handquilt in the morning and evening. If you look close, you can see that I keep my hand quilting needles in a double fold of fabric. It helps them stay put and not wander from the package.
The hoop I use to hand quilt is very special. Sweet Hubby made it for me years ago. It is the only one I have except a half hoop which I never use. My special hoop has a triangle base, no ball joints to make it tilt. Just plain and simple. The triangle base allows me to tip it easily. I can't imagine quilting without it.
For hand applique, I like to keep everything in a plastic container. All the threads, a film container holding sequin pins, needles, which are not in a piece of fabric and got loose, so they are everywhere, scissors, and a thimble. I have a very expensive thimble bought for me by a friend, but I lose thimbles everywhere, so I like the cheap ones. Don't look too hard, this is the Masterpiece block... (It won't enlarge no matter how many times you click on it Linda. LOL) So you see, my tools are still pretty simple. Nothing fancy, nothing you would find in the Jetson's sewing room. (would they sew?? maybe Rosie would) Just what I need, nothing more, nothing less.
I did promise Linda that I would post a picture of the Masterpiece block by the weekend. Well here it is.
I am so sorry!!! I could not resist!

12 comments:

Quilting Mama said...

What a fun trip down memory lane!

Linda said...

That is just soooo mean.... what a big tease you are Bren....lol... But to be honest I kinda thought you may pull a joke like that... but I did manage to save them to my photo's and enlarge them that way....But I'll be good and try not to nag too much more. Had to laugh about the mountain women and the new tools of the trade.

kjquilts said...

You are right, simple is best. I always laugh when I look in my cupboard and see all the fancy tools and gadgets. I just don't use them. I'm finally getting to the point where I just look at the new things in the store and put them back. One thing I do use is a needle threader...my eyes are oldies but goodies too.

Lily said...

Times sure have changed! I am very glad for the rotary cutter!

Solstitches said...

I really enjoyed this post on how you got started on your quilting journey.
I love that the pupil became the teacher when you showed Sherry the rotary cutter and it gave me a smile to hear of the reactions of the mountain quilt group seeing it for the first time :)
Keeping it simple seems to me to be a good rule to live by.

Margaret

Joni said...

LOL I hear Linda at the airport buying a ticket to Bren's home. She is gonna see that first block if it kills her!

Laura said...

I love seeing first quilts, I still have my grandma's cereal box templates and used them a few years back. Boy is the rotary cutter so much quicker!

Andrea said...

what a fantastic post ! I loved reading it ! I was taught to quilt the old-fashioned way. my first quilt was made with cereal packet templates and all hand sewn. And that was only 5ish years ago - lol !

Guðrún said...

Just like I started, with scissors and plastic template my DH made for me.

Libby said...

While I didn't start quite as simply, I'm not a big gadget girl and have the most basic of tools (there's a few that were 'required' to take a class - but not really necessary and mostly unused.) I love to have something available to pick up in the morning and evening to stitch by hand. Thanks so much for sharing your start and your 'spot.' *s*

Rose Marie said...

Thanks for sharing your journey into quilting. I, too, like to keep my tools simple and the way you started is exactly how I did too. Gosh, those were the days! Your quilts are lovely and you should really finish that UFO and be proud of it.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

I like the old fashioned way! I also like my rotary cutter. My DH adapted my hoop so that it is easy to get your hand underneath, rather like yours is.