The first recognizable traditional patch-working I ever did was an Ohio Star block we made in home ec, my senior year of high school --- but I’d been sewing since about the 6th or 7th grade.
I LOVED to sew. My mom would take me shopping for remnants, looking at the little bundle wrapped with a paper label, telling us how much yardage the rolled up piece contained. Even today I get excited by remnant bins and their possibilities.
Mom always had a basket of scraps left from clothing construction, and I graduated from using these for doll clothes, to deciding to make “decorator” patchwork pillows as found in a magazine that we had laying around….It had to be about 7th grade, because my friend Julie, aka Jules, was with me, in my room, cutting out squares with scissors. Of course, NO template…just cut a square, they will fit together somehow!
This Thanksgiving, my friend Jules, whom I’ve reconnected with via facebook ((Oh the wonders of the internet!)) went back home to spend time with her family – they still live in the same house in San Jose, California ---Almaden Valley --- that was around the corner from my childhood home!
Imagine my surprise when she plastered my facebook wall with pictures her parents had taken of us when we were inseparable in our early teenage years! These are photos of photos, so not the greatest quality, but there we are.
This has to be about 1975 as far as I can gather. Dang, I’m old! LOL!
Why am I bringing up this story? Because my first experience at trying to make a pillow from rough cut squares, my attempt at following a pattern in a magazine left a mark on me!
It also left a mark on Jules, which she said she still has to this day, more than 35 years later --- She sat on the scissors, put a gash on her thigh, and had to have stitches! She’s got the scar to prove it! So when we reconnected, and I said I was a Quilter, she said it didn’t surprise her one bit.
The summer after 7th grade I went to girl’s camp ---and our camp counselors taught us embroidery on squares of denim. The squares were embroidered with flowers, with rainbows, with other symbols popular in that era! I remember owls and – mine--- a grouping of mushrooms, with red tops and white spots on them. Doesn’t that sound 70’s to you? When the blocks were completed, they were joined and we all took our turns tying this beautiful ((!!)) quilt with bright red acrylic yarn. I remember the backing was red flannel, and the binding was the backing turned over the edge and machine stitched to the front ---
All the girls who submitted a block put their names in the basket, and a winner was drawn ---guess who won the quilt? Me! I had that quilt for years and years and years until it finally wore out. It was the BACKING that gave up, but really, it was in shreds, and I don’t remember specifically when we let it go to wherever quilts go when they really NEED to….go ---I wish I had a picture of that quilt.
After highschool, but before marriage, I made a denim quilt “TOP” out of random cut up pieces of denim, crazy patch style. That thing weighed a TON and I can’t tell you how many needles I bent or broke in the process. I used a record album cover as a template --- to trace on top of my funky denim blocks and cut them out with scissors to square them up and join together. I have no idea whatever happened to that top either ----
When I headed off to College, thinking of dorm room living, I marched down to JC Pennys and bought two twin sized flat sheets in a print I liked. White with blue flowers. ((Of course they were a blend too! Percale! Lovely!!)) and my mom and I spent a weekend removing the hems, tacking them in the 2X4 frame we made for tying quilts up in the attic room of her house in Kuna, Idaho --We layered those sheets with a double layer of poly batting in the middle and tied it with WHITE acrylic yarn. I'd bought a twin sheet set to match too, and I was off to college life in style! That comforter was really NOT a quilt, but it had quilt elements. It finally hit the trash heap when we lived in Columbia, SC about 7 years ago or so. It was so soft and cozy, it was the one the boys wanted when they were sick and couch-bound. No quilt I have ever made since has replaced their sentimentality over that raggy tied sheet thing. I don't GET it!
This is a pic of my first “REAL” quilt! I was 20 when I made this in 1982 as a baby quilt for my baby sister when she was born.
It's faded over the years of course, but it touched me when Mary sent the pic that showed she still had and treasured this little humble quilt.
DH's grandmother showed me how to make cardboard templates, trace them and then cut the pieces with scissors. It's a wonder I ever finished this thing at all because I really hated that process, but it got me well on the way to my quilting obsession, and I haven't stopped since!
The fabrics came from a children's clothing outlet in Boise, Idaho. They would sell the bags of factory scraps and I had bought two bags, one pink, and one blue floral stripe. I guess I didn't know too much about contrast then! I quilted it in the ditch, not knowing any other way to do it, and learned to do prairie points instead of binding. Oh, my quilting thread? Regular sewing thread, a double strand! I'm not sure I buried knots on the back either...Oh how far we have come, and enjoyed the journey!
DH and I were married in August of 1981, and Jason was born to us in November of 1983. When he was about 9 months old I went to work part time at the “Art & Craft Supply” store in Ontario, Oregon. They had some fabric, and I made shop samples of all kinds of things from dolls to stuffed animals and even a bit of quilting. When a neighbor lady heard that I loved to sew --- she donated me a WHOLE BOX of scraps from her dress making business. This was when the “prairie skirts” were really big, and most everything was 100% cotton. Gunny Sax dresses were also very popular ---remember? That box was SUCH a gift to me. I knew I wanted to make a quilt out of it, but what to do and how to start? The pieces were really odd shaped,and I needed something that would work with them.
Remember, this is before rotary cutters, rulers and mats. They were coming shortly, just over the horizon, but this is about 1984 ---I had a baby, a part time job to help out, and a husband in college who also was working a full time job driving forklift at a place that made trailer house molding to support us. I had to make do with what I had --- and my $99 kenmore machine was my best friend!
I used a yard stick to mark lines on the back of the fabric, using the width of the yardstick as my guide. I cut on my lines with scissors. I started a log cabin quilt using all the scraps in that box. I knew from pictures that Log Cabin quilts traditionally had red centers, and I liked that idea---but I didn’t KNOW that some of my fabric wasn’t 100% cotton. I sewed with what I had! My red centers are a poly/cotton broadcloth.
This is that quilt today……well worn, very much used. I backed the top with drapery lining I got at my job at a discount. It’s more of a sateen weave than a cotton weave, almost slinky. I didn’t know any better. Polyester batting was the thing of the day. There’s not much of it left inside this quilt!
I hand quilted down the center of each log ----I didn’t know anything about squaring blocks up before joining, and I KNOW some of these logs are wider than others, but I didn’t care. I put all the neutrals on one side of the block, and all the colors on the other side. You know what? I still pretty much follow this formula, don’t I?!
Do you recognize some of these prints? No one told me that the border should have as much quilting as the quilt center…and I didn’t know what else to do, so I quilted one line down the center just to hold everything. Wide binding! And I hadn’t figured out mitered corners yet either….but this was the first “bed size” quilt that was completed and used. It went on Jason’s first “big boy” bed ----
At this time, I thought that I’d number all my quilts and embroider my initials and the date for posterity to see --- that went by the wayside long ago! But I’m so happy that I did do it here. Quilt #3, Mary has Quilt #1 ---Quilt #2 is long gone with the using. 1986. I was 24 years old with a small 2 year old, a hubby in college struggling to make ends meet --- and filling my quiet time by putting the pieces together.
You know what else I just remembered? I entered this quilt in the County Fair. And it won 1st place….another lovely polyester batting was the prize! LOL! Would I enter this quilt NOW? HECK NO!! I’d be laughed right out of competition, but I love the place it’s played in my history ---
Do YOU have a first quilt or quilts and a story to go with it? Feel free to link your blog post below! Remember that we need the url of the specific POST, not the address for your whole blog. To get the correct address in the linky –right click on the subject line of your post you wrote about your first quilt. Chose “copy link address” and paste this url in the form when you link.
For instance, my blog address is http://quiltville.blogspot.com but that isn't enough. I can't link to the WHOLE blog, I need the address of the post. The address of THIS post is http://quiltville.blogspot.com/2011/11/first-quilts.html See the difference?
If you link to your whole blog, I’ll have to remove your link and have you try again because I can’t fix it FOR you.
We'll leave this open for a week to give you time to write your posts!