Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Quilting Journey (long)

I began quilting in 1999. I'd always wanted to try my hand, or should I say machine, at it. So much so that I crocheted a 'patchwork' bed cover back in the late 1970s. My nearly blind grandmother (she had macular degeneration) made a whole bunch of quilts from feedsacks in the '70s and gave one to each grandchild (I wonder how my brother got two?). I didn't know a thing about feedsacks at the time, let alone how to care for such a precious gem so I loved that quilt to the point of it showing lots of wear and tear before finally stowing it away in my hopeless chest (no chest, just a box and I was single with no prospects). Back then, at least to the extent of my knowledge, quilts were tied and used for bed coverings, not highly decorated and placed on a wall, nor in a glass case. Perhaps that's why I far prefer traditional quilts over fabric art. Don't get me wrong, I 'appreciate' the art pieces and the labor and creativity that go into them, but in my book, true quilts go on a bed or over a lap, other than that, they're quilted wall-hangings or fabric art. And yes, lest anyone take offense, I have made and display quilted wallhangings and some that would be considered fabric art because I've added decorations in the form of buttons, bows and other ornamentation to them.

In 1997 we had been married for about a year and a half, not getting younger (not quite mid-40s) and DH and I decided we should be letting God decide if we were to have children, so we stopped preventative measures and in Feb 1998 were happy, though a little frightened, to find I was pregnant. That pregnancy became the now near-teenager. And he was the only one, though I have a daughter from a previous marriage. Having the near-teenager gave me the blessing of being able to be at home full time, that and DH taking a new job within six months of his birth that increased his income substantially.

While I lay in bed nursing my newborn darling boy, I discovered HGTV. I never knew of it as prior to my marriage I didn't watch television and hadn't, except rarely, in nine years and was pretty much clueless as to daytime and cable television because I'd been a full-time employee, part-time student, and very involved church member - there was no time for TV. Wouldn't you know, I discovered Simply Quilts with hostess Alex Anderson. I loved that show. I loved all her guests and I kept saying to myself that I should try it and see if I'd like it or could even do it. So after two years, yes, you read correctly, TWO years of watching - ok, so I'm slow and lack confidence - I found some scrap pieces of fabric from my high school home economics days (yeah, I'd kept that stuff for, um, well, over 25 years) and from somewhere had a pattern for a single pinwheel block. Wow, cool, ok, I can DO this, I LIKE to DO this. So first on the agenda, and maybe I'd already done this and that's where the pattern came from, I bought a beginner quilt supply kit. You know, the one with the rotary cutter, a ruler, and a 6"x 12" cutting mat. Having watched Alex's show for so long, I trusted her so I picked up her Start Quilting with Alex Anderson book. While the book gave the fabric requirements to make individual quilts of each of the five blocks, it didn't give a separate list of fabric amounts if you wanted to make it just as a sampler. With not knowing a thing about drafting or adjusting the fabric amounts and hearing that five-letter word "stash" I went ahead and purchased fabrics for all the quilts, except for the backing fabrics, and so my stash was well on its way to becoming a hoard.

Somewhere I had picked up the notion that really good quilters didn't need to pin, so my very first quilt (wallhanging) saw no pins. If it wasn't perfect it was unsewed (I don't like the term reverse sewing, that to me says sewing backwards not ripping out what you've sewn.) and then resewed. The block section turned out quite well, I was very proud of my accomplishment. Overall I was very happy with how it turned out. Of course, now that I have more than a decade's experience behind me, I have become very dependant on those pins I once abhorred. I like very thin pins for piecing. Also, I can now see the less-than-perfect areas of this little quilt. Some of the fabric choices and colors are just, bleh, the borders are a little wobbly - I must've missed the lesson on measuring those! - and the binding is so-so even though that isn't really obvious. Knowledge and growth can sure change perspective, but I wouldn't trade, or try to fix, that "first quilt" from the way it is for anything. It's my history. And the genealogist in me says "let it stand".

There's a bit of OCO in my quilting...Obsessive/Compulsive Ordering as I don't like DISorder in some areas of my life. I have kept nearly every receipt for any quilt-related product or purpose and set up an Excel spreadsheet to track my purchases by item, and I also label my fabric with a pinned on sticky post with where I purchased/obtained the fabric, when, cost, how much fabric and an assigned number which is logged into yet another Excel spread sheet. However, I didn't start this until somewhere well into the first year of quilting so I don't have some of the early information, but do have the receipts. I just can't identify which specific fabric they go to. During that first year, a neighbor a block away was having a yard sale and I bought an absolutely HUGE box of mixed fabrics, and a couple bolts of juvenile blends, all for around $40 :) it was a little difficult to assign an individual cost to those. My purpose in all this was that as I could see my stash growing and this was/is a hobby, I wanted to be a good steward of the resources the Lord provided through my husband's hard work, so tracking my expenditures on a hobby was important to me, although DH really didn't care.

I also developed a form to fill out for each project I began that would give me all the details that went into the making of the quilt project i.e. the materials, the pattern name & author, and how much time I spent on each element of the process. I also developed a separate sheet that would have 1 1/2" square samples of each fabric with the aforementioned identifying number. Yes, there's some maintenance on my part in all this detail, but I figure it helps me by keeping my 'work' brain active should I ever have to return to a paying position in an office environment. I'd worked in a telecommunications department of a large aerospace firm doing billing reconciliations, coordinating between the responsible departments and accounts payable. So in that sense, I was an analytical bean-counter, lol.

The realization had hit that I was behind in some areas of this process, so yesterday I caught up, and additionally pulled out my finished, my UFO and everything in-between projects and made sure I had photos of them. Photos will begin to appear in the next few days, or sooner.

That's the journey. In 12 years I've started 34 quilting projects of my own that I've logged. Maybe 30% are finished, 30% are nearly finished, and the rest... well, their process will be shown here eventually as well. I have also during those years helped with other project not my own, and some community service items through the quilt guild to which I belong.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...