I (Teri) never know where my inspiration for a blog post may be found. This post comes from an unlikely source: my visit to the dentist last week. While I was making my next appointment, I ran into an old friend, who works in the office. We chatted for a minute, and as I left, I realized what a huge impact she had had on my life. (I hope you are reading this, Jan!)
Twenty years ago, I had just purchased my first sewing machine. Other than in home economics class, I had never done much sewing. But I had a yearning to make a quilt, so I bought a machine. A couple of years later, the above-mentioned friend, Jan, said she would teach a few of us that worked at the school where I taught how to make a Quilt in a Day, a log cabin pattern by Eleanor Burns. I was naive enough to think it would really take me only a day, and I was quite excited.
|My first quilt, 1999|
I had crocheted afghans for each of my three children, and I was planning to try to make quilts for my two soon-to-be step-daughters. I went to Jo-Ann's and chose some fabric that I thought went together. I had no knowledge of the pattern, of light and dark values of colors, or of design. I just picked material. Jan taught us how to use the rotary cutter, strip-piece, sew a 1/4" seam, and press the seams to the darker fabric. I think I got two blocks finished that day, and it took me a few months to finish the quilt, but I had learned the basic skills required to get me started. I stitched around the quilt, turned it, and tied it. And then I made another one, with lights on one side and darks on the other—a more traditional log cabin. (That one is packed away in the midst of a move, so I don't have a photo of it.)
Truth be told, when I look at this quilt, I'm tempted to see everything I would do differently today. But I force myself to look at it as a learning experience, for every stitch taught me something and started me on my journey of loving the art of quilts. And this quilt has wrapped love around my step-daughter for years.
Several years later, my daughter was about to graduate from high school. I had come across a piece of flannel that her late grandmother had purchased many years ago, probably to make a nightgown. I thought it would be nice to make a quilt using that piece of fabric, to include this grandma that my daughter had never had the chance to meet. Her favorite color was yellow, so I knew I needed to incorporate that color into the quilt, and since it was flannel, I thought I would try a rag quilt. This picture is old and poor quality, but it gives you the idea.
|Arranging the blocks on the floor for placement before sewing them together.|
The white print was the flannel from her grandmother.
A few months ago, I asked my daughter to send me a photo of her quilt, and she promptly replied with this photo. As I remember, it was a snowy day, and she was working from home. How nice to know that she stills sleeps—and sometimes works—under this quilt.
Soon after my older son went into the Air Force, I asked him what kind of quilt he wanted me to make for him. He chose a Disappearing Nine Patch, but he wanted it to have fish, not flowers. Knowing that I needed to make a masculine quilt, I found a couple of fish prints that both had brown, so they got me started. I also used a Civil War print, because he likes history. When I visit him in Alaska, I sleep under that quilt, which covers the bed in their guest room.
|The fish prints are the dark outer border, and the lighter center print. Here it is before quilting.|
|This quilt has traveled to Texas, New Jersey, Turkey, Japan, and Alaska!|
When my younger son reminded me that he was the only one who hadn't yet gotten a quilt, I was surprised that he wanted the same type of quilt as his sister—a flannel rag quilt. He was a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, so he wanted it to be blue and gray, which are that football team's colors. Collecting a variety of blues and grays was a bit of an adventure. Those quilts are easy and fast to make, so I knew I could finish it for him quickly, but my hand wasn't looking forward to all that snipping of the seam allowances.
When I finished this quilt, I would have completed quilts for all of my children.
|Grandson jumping on the bed in their guest room|
As I made that first quilt so many years ago, as well as the other quilts for my children, I would never have imagined where my quilting journey would take me. When I left the dentist's office last week, I realized how much I appreciated Jan sharing her talents with us that day. I remembered her showing us some of the projects she had stitched; I sat there thinking that I could never do that kind of work. But I was wrong. I had to take the time to learn many skills along the way, as well as to learn how to take risks and try newer, more difficult things. While I have grown to love the more intricate work of appliqué, embellished with embroidery, I still love the quilts that I've stitched for family and friends that were made to keep them warm. And I'm so grateful to the many people who have taught and inspired me along the way. And it has been my honor to share that passion with others, as well!
|Teaching a friend's daughter her first lesson in designing and hand-piecing a doll quilt|