Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q - Quilting

* This post is a little long, but if you have the time I hope you'll enjoy my journey in quilting.

I am sentimental about the handwork my grandmothers' crafted - crochet, embroidery and quilting.  The gifts they made me will always be part of my treasured past, but I wanted to continue these traditional crafts to carry on their legacies.

My quilting journey started in 2009 when my grandmother passed away.

I inherited my grandmother's quilts and quilting materials that she had tucked away.  I didn't have any idea what to do with the material, patterns and prepared blocks, but I was determined to learn the art of quilting so I could use what was passed to me.

Grandma pieced these blocks and put them away to be made into a quilt. One day I got them out and just played with an arrangement that was pleasing to my eye on the floor. I realized that I had to teach myself about quilting before I ever touched her stash. I was starting with zero knowledge.

One of my favorite bloggers had made some beautiful quilts for her family.  She made this candy corn quilt and I was inspired!

I began to realize that my favorite quilts were reproductions, especially from the 1930's. I enjoy a quilt that looks like it has a past...a story.  I can admire modern quilts, but I am drawn to the old.

In the spring of 2010 my husband bought me a sewing machine for my birthday.  I went to the fabric store and purchased a pattern and material for a baby changing pad (couldn't think of anything smaller to quilt), but I procrastinated.  Zero knowledge usually strikes paralyzing fear in me. ;)

It only took 7 months of harassing by my family for me to lug my machine and supplies on vacation so I could conquer the fear and the first attempt at quilting. I procrastinated again until vacation was almost over before secluding myself in a room for a full day. As I saw the changing pad take form I got more and more excited! I loved quilting! It was exhilarating! I came out of the room with a finished piece and a new confidence.

A few months and the holiday season passed. The fear began to settle in.

I decided to join a blog swap to force myself to face the fear.  I signed up to send another quilter two mug rugs. I didn't even know what a mug rug was, but I knew it was small.

I signed up in early January to meet a deadline during the third week of February. I procrastinated January away in fear. Why on earth would I send a quilted piece to another quilter? I wasn't a quilter!

My in-laws came for a visit during the last few days of January and right after returning home to CA, my father-in-law unexpectedly passed away. As we were making arrangements to fly out in a blizzard I was stressing about how I was going to get my mug rugs completed if I were away from home. I talked with my children's art teacher who said she would help me if needed when I returned, but not to take the project with me. Good advice!

I returned home two weeks later (with one week to spare before the deadline) and under pressure busted out two beautiful mug rugs. I was very pleased with what I had produced. Again, my fear had been overcome and I even made a couple of extra mug rugs and gave them away as gifts.  I enjoyed the creative process so much!

Life happened again, as it always does. My oldest daughter got married in June and my spring was taken up with preparations.  I thought I'd jump back into quilting during the summer, but it just never happened. We spent more time at the pool than usual and I enjoyed what I did not know would be my last few months in our townhouse.

In August our landlord decided she was going to sell the townhouse we had lived in for eight years. It was the only house my younger two girls had known.  Thank goodness, we had been looking around our area that summer with the thoughts that maybe Mark's mom would move in with us. It made it easier to find our next home quickly.

We moved to the farm the first week of September 2011.  I hadn't quilted since February and now with a new homeschooling year and house to settle at hand it didn't look like crafts were in my near future.

Within a couple of days of moving, my sister-in-law and I went to check out the small town nearby. When we walked into the local thrift store there were 4 boxes of quilt material on a table near the doorway. It was a beautiful sight!  Each box had color-coordinated materials (red/blues in one, green/browns in another, etc). The materials had an old-time quality about them, as if some dear older lady had passed away and someone had donated her stash. My mind was filled with wonder.

Another quilter came over to the boxes where I was elbow-deep and started looking through the stash. An ugly little spirit of "it's all mine!" crept in my heart as the woman expressed an interest in the $100 collection of material.  I exclaimed over their beauty and that I was certainly interested in the material (when I wanted to say, "I was here first!"); I was just hesitant about spending that much money on material right after moving.  Could I justify investing that amount when all I had made was a changing pad and a few mug rugs?  I called my husband who quickly said, "Buy Them!"  (Don't you love when your men support you!)  I hemmed and hawed over the price and which colors I would like and the other lady grew tired of looking through the boxes. Before walking away, she said, "I don't know why I'm looking at this, I have a room full of material at home!"  I blurted out, "I don't have any!" How embarrassing!

As soon as my rival moved a few feet away, I hollered (truly) across the store to the lady at the counter, "I want all of these boxes!"  She casually walked over with a sold sign and attached it to one of the boxes. I said, "Please, put a sold sign on all four boxes. I don't want anyone to think they're available."  She chuckled and went to get more signs. 

When she returned she said, "I hope you'll really use all of this. Doesn't it seem like it's someone quilting stash?" I got teary ('cause that's what I do) and said, "Yes. I think so. I will definitely be honored to use this for quilting." She then looked at me and said, "You know, I will give these to you for $80."  I left the store feeling like I had more than one legacy to carry into the future.

During the next few months I spent time planning my first lap quilt just for me. I chose plaids from the stash that resonated with my storied sensibility.  I put together this top and then chose a beautiful pieced background. I even got it to the sandwich stage and it now awaits me in my sewing room. I want to hand quilt this piece, but I might need a class or a tutor to do it well.

I decided to jump into the blog swapping world again with a challenge to make blocks of a certain color for each month of the year. Here are my January blocks. I learned a lot about piecing and color choices and the greatest lesson of all, quilting is about experimentation and practice!

Here's February's blocks
(better variation in color and better piecing technique).

While the blocks were fun I wanted to challenge myself with something else. I had lots of red scraps left over so I decided to make one of my daughters' friend a blanket for her American Girl as a birthday present. I thought the top would make a cute blanket...

and the bottom a cute picnic blanket. Of course, after making this blanket, my girls had me in JoAnn's purchasing material for blankets for their American Girls. (projects to complete)

I pushed myself once more with a mini-quilt swap.  The old fear came sweeping back in and I worried about sending another quilter one of my pieces.  The quilt had to meet several specifications so I had to design it myself.  I love postage stamp quilts (all the small squares in the middle) and just built a quilt from there.  I had quite the sense of accomplishment when I was done, but also the anxiety of worrying about whether another quilter would like it. The recipient sent me a sweet email saying purple was her favorite color and when I received my mini-quilt from another quilter in the swap, I relaxed realizing that I was just so grateful to be apart of a group of women who were generous enough to share their time and talents with others.

Here are the sweet gifts from a dear lady in TX. She sent me knitting items 'cause she read somewhere that I'd love to learn to knit. What a story that will be! :)


Joyce said...

I read the whole thing (I've been known to write a long post or two in my day!)...this was a sweet tale.

Brenda said...

What a wonderful story. I love how you've overcome your fears. I've recently experienced those fears with my artsy fartsy paper crafting. But I love doing it so much that it's helped me.

Conny said...

Wow, Angie ... what lovely quilts and good for you for 'overcoming your fear' of quilting and just going for it!! It must be a talent inherited from your grandma because you have done some lovely work!!! :)
My Tennessee Grandma quilted. I most cherish a quilt she made out of skirts I had outgrown!! :)

Kris Coffee said...

The lap quilt you're working on for yourself - love the color combinations! Your postage stamp quilt looks great...the edging (or whatever the technical term is) makes it. The purples POP! And I love the one you got from the lady in TX.

Susan said...

SOOO enjoyed reading your journey into quilting and your heart for this wonderful, old craft that I have always admired so much. Reading and knowing all this will make the wonderful Mug Rug I just won even more special!!!! Thank you again.

Nel said...

Wonderful post Angie. Your quilts are beautiful. My momma was the quilter in my family. I did make Eden a doll quilt for Christmas. I ran across some tiny squares that mom had pieced together. Thinking of making her great grands a doll quilt out of them. Not sure yet what I am going to do with them. I wish I would of taken the time to quilt with my mom, it would of made her day!
until next time... nel

still.sofia said...

Angie, I can hear you talking as I read through this post. Knowing how honored you would be to use some else's stash of fabric made me get teary eyed. You have done a beautiful job making great use the material you purchased. One day,... very soon, I would love to come over for some tea and cookies served on your mug rugs and see all the beautiful things you have created. XO