Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Beginnings of My Journey in Quilts

*** Looking for my Joseph's Coat posts??  I goofed setting my link up (insert red face here)! Please click HERE ***

Robyn at Daisy Quilts has issued an invitation for everyone to tell about their first quilts and how we began. Click on the "Where did we Begin?" button above to go to her page. But, before you leave, here is my story.
The very first quilt I can remember working on was in 1969 or 1970. It was a tradition at that time, especially in rural areas, that young ladies had a "hope chest" to take with them when they married. For my family, this was basically a collection of linens such as tea towels, pillowcases, doilies and at least one quilt. There may have been more, but those are the only items I can really remember.
I have been sewing since I was a child. I also learned the fine art of embroidery on tea towels and pillowcases. I have always loved any kind of needlework and it seemed to come very easily to me. At about 11 years of age, I joined a 4-H Sewing Club where I learned dressmaking skills along with other stitching arts.
When my mother decided it was time to get a quilt into my hope chest (I was 17 after all), I was already a fairly competent seamstress. I found a pattern for a quilt in a magazine and we set out to make the quilt. The pattern I picked was the bow-tie. These were the days BEFORE rotary cutters and fast techniques... so every piece for every block was traced and cut with scissors. I can still remember mom getting frustrated with the "Y" seams so she passed it over to me to sew the blocks. Once I had the top put together, the ladies from our church came to the house and helped hand quilt using pearl cottons - everyone around one frame.
So here it is... my first quilt (or what is left of it). It has been a part of my family for all these years.

I've only recently rescued it from my youngest daughter when she told me that it needed a "few" repairs. I almost fainted when I heard that it was being put through the laundry almost weekly...
Since all the fabrics used for the bows were scraps, this quilt holds many memories in those fabrics.
My mothers dresses and aprons from the 40's and 50's. Scraps from my sister's clothing

Remnants from a blouse I made in either 4-H or home-EC and a skirt which I sewed.

And my favorite piece is a bit of paisley fabric left from a coat and dress I made to wear on my first airplane trip when I went to Expo 1967 in Montreal. (That was when I decided I wanted to be an airline stewardess.. unfortunately at 5' 10", I was too tall.)Remnants from baby clothing made for my nephew Neil who was born when I was only 10.My second quilt didn't happen until the late 1980s. This time a chose an appliqué pattern, again from a magazine. The fabric I used was given to me by my mom again... FORTREL from used clothing and leftover yard goods. This stuff wears like iron (and feels much the same - not at all cuddly) and she felt it was a great fabric for quilts as they would not easily wear out. At the time it never occurred to me that I could go buy fabric just to cut up to make quilts so I used what I had been given.
This quilt is so heavy and warm you can hardly sleep under it! No fear of it ever wearing out! It is a long, double size, machine appliqued (before I knew about fusibles) and then finished by tying as there was no way you could actually do a quilting stitch through this heavy stuff!
I took a beginners quilting course shortly after doing this quilt in order to learn how to use "the newest thing in quilting" at the time... a rotary cutter with an acrylic ruler and self healing mat. I made a simple log cabin quilt all in pastel pinks and blues during that class. I think my daughter has passed it on to my granddaughter who is still using it!

OK, now you can go to Robyn's blog and check out everyone else's first quilts and their stories! Add yours too!


  1. Dena. I think back when, that bow tie pattern was all the rage...I remember my grandmother making one too..Alot of set in seams, but we have easier ways to do it

  2.'ve just given me a guilt trip.
    I sold out a household to move back home this past Spring, and I just realized that I think I sold my first and second quilts ! Oh my goodness.......that's where it all began !

    My first was 8-pointed stars, and the second was just rectangles......but when I started over about 9 years later, my new first was a bow-tie,too! Just like you said, every piece cut by hand !

  3. Hi Edna, love this post name - The Beginnings of My Journey in Quilts as I'm going to be starting a block of the month called "Journey of a Quilter" you should join if you have the time...
    How's your machine working now that it's fixed (present blog?) I love my Husq I'm on my second one as I wanted to trade up and I love this one too.
    Sorry I don't have any words of advice for you on your embroidery questions...


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