Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Little Reminiscing While Awaiting

I should be able to pick up my machine today. I've had 4 days to spend doing other things and my house is happy for that. 

I spent some time yesterday putting pins and holders together. Yes, I'm getting anxious for the quilting to begin.

I decided to take a trip back in time to figure out where I started all this quilting, so take a step back in time with me..

I found a receipt dated 9/97 for Beginner's Patchwork class. $30 for 5 classes. I had got some bee in my bonnet that I was going to learn to quilt, and I talked my sister into taking classes with me! We were young, stay at home moms with little toddlers. WHY I thought I needed this hobby I have no idea. It just appealed to me at the time.
I can't find a picture of the sampler blocks we made. I wasn't very happy with it as it was UGLY.  I believe I borrowed a class loaner machine to use since I didn't even own my own machine.

We finished that class and I signed up for a Beg. Hand Quilting class in 11/97.  This time I couldn't talk my sister into it. This receipt was also stuck in the folder with my quilting class notes.  This was just a one evening class.

A year later, in the winter of 1998 I took a Machine Quilting Class.  I have the hand out but no receipt. It is amazing to look back at the handout and see how many similarities there were to what I've been reading this week in my Heirloom Machine Quilting Book by Harriet Hargrave.  Well, no wonder... the reference at the end of the notes is to Heirloom Machine Quilting 2nd edition!
I believe I also borrowed a class machine for this class.

In order to start sewing, I needed a sewing machine, and MIL generously offered hers since she didn't seem to use it any more. We lived across the street, so I think she figured she could come use it if she ever needed to.

My first project was ambitious. I wanted to make my son a train quilt for his new twin sized bed. His favorite thing was trains, and so I found a pattern in a kids quilt book and went to work.
Here it is finished.

 And, he loved it!
I didn't really have a plan for the quilting aspect. I machine quilted stitch in the ditch as much as I could on straight lines. I hand quilted all the curves around the hearts and wheels because my free motion skills were severely lacking. I did try, but it just wasn't going to work. Turns out my hand quilting wasn't particularly better. I did find a cute continuous heart pattern for the border that I thought I could do.
And, so began the free motion quilting. I was fairly pleased with the results here, but as you can see when looking closely, I wasn't very good at it. My attitude by this time was, "It's my first try, I didn't have any practice, and I JUST WANT To GET IT DONE".

Now when I look back at it, I see why it fell apart. My son absolutely loved this quilt. He took it everywhere he could and I was happy about that. I just didn't make it well enough for that kind of use. I now know that the quilting was way too far apart. I didn't bother to quilt the inside borders at all, I simply stitched in the ditch. Not so bad, but they could have used something. Everything else was simply stitched in ditches too, and there was too much open space. Take another look at the full quilt picture.  Do you see all that white space?  LOL.  No quilting there.   It probably would have not torn so much if I had given it some more quilting.  He had holes in it when we finally made it a doggie blanket. But, he got many years of use out of it anyway. I believe the quilt's life was 99-2011

My next project was even more ambitious. This was a twin quilt for my older son and when I started asking him what kind of "thing" he would like on his quilt, he decided on airplanes!
So, I decided I could design a rotary cut airplane pattern! On my 2nd quilt!
The large blocks were clouds. I free motion quilted a "pattern" that resembled free flowing clouds :)
I again stitched in the ditch and gave up on the hand quilting. The problem here was MIL's machine died on me in the quilting stage. It was from the early 70's and I'm not sure what happened to it. It just died a quick brutal death and the repair man said it wasn't worth fixing.

Once again I had no machine to use.

I talked my dh into letting me buy a new machine at the local sewing center. This is a current picture. At the time, I simply put this on the dining room table and once again started sewing. It's a Pfaff Tiptronic 2040. Does everything I could possible want it to and more.  This must be the year 2000ish. How I convinced him, I have no idea. We always bought everything used out of Craigslist.

So, I finished my son's airplane quilt and even stuck a tag on the back that I used my alphabet embroidery with and another quilt was done. This quilt is still residing on his bed.

Now that I had a fancy machine, I was up for something for Dh and I. I found a quilt kit that I thought even DH would enjoy by Thimbleberries. I started the blocks and got done with the 2nd and decided I did not have the skills. I put it away for another day. The Thimbleberry blocks are top left on design board.

So, I finally got smart and made a lap quilt for MIL for Mother's Day, 2002
And, she was overjoyed.  I used a rail fence pattern, and used a straight stitch pattern for the quilting. Sorry, I didn't get a picture of the finished quilt. But, you can see happy MIL!  I was happy with the piecing and the quilting on this one, even though I wouldn't consider it good by the standards I've been learning this year.  I was, however, making progress.

Next project:
I was set on making a queen sized quilt for the master bedroom.  I got a software program and designed an Ohio Star in a patriotic color scheme to fit the queen bed and went to work. I think it took me 3 years to finish the blocks. By this time, I was homeschooling both boys and had plenty of other things going on.  When I finished the blocks I put them away because I noticed they were not going to butt together nicely. They were not pieced precisely enough.
In 2007 we moved. Projects got moved with us, and they even got a room to themselves to be stored in.
Between 2007-2011 I finished homeschooling the boys and they went off to High School. I got a job due to the fact that starting an old business in a new location takes time in a bad economy. So, I was making sure there was food on the table. And, I made a plan to finish up projects that were hanging over my head.  I started with the photo albums.  I got both boys' and ours caught up. That was about 12 years worth of being behind! What a fantastic relief feeling.

So in 2011 I found my sewing room and that patriotic star quilt that I still wanted on my bed. I wanted THIS project to get finished and off my mind too.  I trimmed all the squares to be the same, finished them up with sashing and border and then went to the local quilt shop and got references for a long arm quilter.
And it got finished!  I was so ready for it to just be done. A completed project. But then I decided I really wanted to learn to quilt well. Not for doing all bed quilts, but for some fun things, like seasonal table mats and runners, wall hangings, lap quilts... That bee in my bonnet was still there.

And, so began my journey with Quilter's Academy.  I knew I would need some more expertise and training, but I didn't want to start with classes again.  In the Homeschooling mom tradition, I thought, "I can learn this from a book!"  And, the one that kept speaking to me was Quilter's Academy, so I ordered it and got started.

Ooh!  I'd love to hear your story of who or what got you on the quilting journey?


  1. What an interesting quilt journey and I am so glad once you were bitten by the bug that you always returned to it. It is such a fun hobby. Did your sister ever get interested again? QA is not for the faint of heart. You and Vicki are both doing an amazing job.

  2. I'm happy that I've been able to have quilting on my mind for so many years, even if I haven't been able to actually do much with it. There are always seasons of life, and I think I'm finally getting to that season where it is actually more doable for me. My oldest son went off to college this year! Only one son home now, and its no longer basketball season :)

    My sister never did anything more with quilting. However, I did finally get my mother involved after she retired. She has gone full steam ahead and has far surpassed what I've accomplished. She makes such fun and beautiful things. She has also learned to applique and is loving her new hobby. I aspire to follow her, even though I was first...

    My first projects shown here are sentimental to me and hold a dear place in my heart just because they are the beginning of this journey. For now I'm really happy with the progress I've made with learning by the book and sticking to the book projects. I'm trying really hard to follow through because as shown above, I can easily decide to tackle too much at a time. Thankfully, I don't feel that way with QA. It has been a GOOD challenge for me.

    I don't know that I will do QA straight all the way through the entire series. As soon as we learn triangles, I'm going back to that Thimbleberries quilt. And, by then I should be able to do many more side projects.

  3. What a fun post!Thanks for sharing all your pictures, too.

    How much did it cost to get your queen quilt quilted? I often see beautiful quilts in books and I think I could do a lot of the piecing, but the quilting is so far out of my skill level (and my machine's, too!)

    1. Yes, your machine is probably like the one I was using, and it burned up with the heavy use of quilting. It did fine on the piecing.

      The lady that did my quilting did a great job, and charged .01/inch. My queen quilt was 160 sq. inches and I paid $160. It was a hefty fee for me, but I really wanted it on my "done" list. My mom was surprised it was so "cheap". In Ca. she pays .025/inch.

  4. A question for you. Do you always piece with your IDT engaged on your Pfaff machine?

    1. I Always use the IDT for piecing. Couldn't imagine disengaging it for any sewing, except when I FMQ.