Thursday, February 9, 2017

First things

Hi all!  How are you today?  It has been wild here--on Wednesday we had a record high in the 60s and Thursday we're supposed to get the heaviest snow of the year.  I'm watching the temperature fall as I write this! 

A little something different to show today.  Leanne at Devoted Quilter is having a My First Quilt link party and so this post is about my first quilt, which I still have.  It happens that I came across it a little while ago while trying to empty more boxes.  We are really trying to get rid of a lot of things and just generally clean out 30 years of stuff that never should have moved here, so we keep finding all kinds of things that we thought were lost.  This quilt is one of those things.  Here it is:

Wow. Just wow.  What a wonder in pastels. These are simple squares alternated with Rail Fence blocks to make a simple pattern. I made this quilt in 1989 on a very old machine while we lived for a time in Texas. That machine did not move with us back to Wisconsin.  I can't really remember why I made it, but I had a toddler daughter in 1989/90, plus an older daughter, so it was definitely for one of them.  Or maybe it was a play mat for the kids?  Honestly, I don't remember. 

There is no quilting in the border at all!  I guess I thought it was quilted enough without it.

This quilt measures about 48 by 56 and was machine pieced and quilted with about eleventy billion mistakes.  It is made of 100% cotton fabrics and has a cotton batting.  I know for sure that all of the materials came from a store called House of Fine Fabrics, which was soon to be swallowed up by the JoAnn behemoth.  At the time, though, it was a lovely store where one of my daughters once hid in the center of a circular fabric table and I nearly lost my mind looking for her. I was near sobbing by the time she came out of hiding.  Ah, memories!

Would you call that a quilting design?

All the people in my family sewed, and I had been sewing for a while myself, so at least I knew about 1/4 inch seams, matching and nesting seams, and how to bind quilts.  Nevertheless, there are lots of mistakes here.  In my defense, machine quilting was just getting started.  Most quilts prior to that time had been made by hand and hand quilted, or tied with yarn, and free motion quilting didn't really exist, which led to things like this:

Big wrinkles in the backing! But don't you love the fabric?

Yikes!  For all the mistakes, this quilt was used and loved, and isn't that what we make quilts for?  I know the kids used it for a long time for various reasons, including, apparently, painting:

It also appears in some family pictures on the sofa or wrapped around a sick child, and in one photo it's being used as a cape.  It's obviously very versatile!

My, what big stitches you have!

The quilt has held up remarkably well and only has one small hole in it.  After I pulled it out of the box, I washed it and it came out just great.  After I stitch that hole closed it will be ready for a whole new generation to drag around, cuddle up with, and use to become superheroes.  I'm making them keep it away from the paint this time, though.

In addition to my first quilt, I found something else in a box recently-- my first quilt book, which is a total scream.  This is it, by Judy Martin:

This book was published in 1988, which means it was right up to date when I made my first quilt.  There are no rotary cutters, acrylic rulers, or half-square triangles in this book.  Instead, she offers an easy method for cutting quilt pieces:

In case you can't read that, it involves cutting quilt pieces by pinning paper patterns to layers of fabric and then cutting them out-- just like you would if you were using a dress making pattern.  Hey, this was cutting edge!  Of course, there are block diagrams--and pattern pieces to trace and pin to your fabric.

Kind of makes you want to kiss your rotary cutter, doesn't it? The best part is that I used this book and used the templates for a couple of years.  Then I found an Eleanor Burns book, and shortly after, Trudie Hughes's Template Free Quiltmaking, and someone invented rotary cutters and rulers and it was off to the races.  I still love Judy Martin, though, and have many of her other books--where she definitely uses better methods!

I hope you all have enjoyed this trip down memory lane, and that you'll go over and check out some other "first quilt" stories at the link-up, and maybe consider telling your own stories.  We want pictures! We've all come a long way, haven't we?

Sharing at Devoted Quilter, and at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.


Jo said...

Wow, what a great story. My friends son hid amongst the clothes rack one time and we were frantic. When he finally came out he thought it was hilarious. It's good to see your quilt used though.

Jean said...

Enjoyed your story. Quilts are for loving even if not perfect.

Leanne Parsons said...

This is such a great post! I'm so glad you found your first quilt just in time for the link party :) It is beautiful and I love that it shows up in so many of your family pictures from those years. Well loved quilts are the best. Thanks for linking with me :)

Leanne B said...

What a great trip down memory lane. 1988...I remember it well! I love that you now know two LEANNES! We know how to spell. :-). You've come a long way in your quilting journey. Lots of trips to Nancy's Notions! Stay warm during the storm. We have 68 in Denver. Just sayin'

claudia said...

My goodness! I remember quilting that way! I still have my first quilt, but it never got quilted or bound. It is sitting in my closet as I type waiting for me to get off my duff and do something with it! (I have finished other quilts since then!)

Kate said...

What a very fun find! How cool that you've recycled it for the younger generation. Definitely a heirloom quilt.

Chopin - A Passionate Quilter said...

I remember when I thought I was making a quilt - I had a few weeks off from work and used "panels" from WalMart......OK never mind....I waited until I retired, then became very serious with my quilting. Your Memory Lane is a great post, because I came into machine piecing in 2004! I learned needle turn applique in 2001 WAY before they started using glue and starch. I still am a traditional hand appliquer. Thx for the history lesson of "real quilting without the tools"

Alycia said...

My goodness - what a great find in that book! The pastels are so very pretty!

Bernie Kringel said...

What a fun post Mari. That quilt has been with your family for a very long time and I think that is sweet. I remember when I really began quilting in 2011 (I made three quilts in the 1980's and then no more until 2011) I was so surprised at the 1/4" seam allowance. Having sewn only clothing - I was used to a 5/8" seam allowance.

That book is great!!

Bernie Kringel said...

.... also, love the story of your daughter hiding. Stinker!

moosecraft said...

Love this post! :-) From seeing your first quilt used (in pictures) so many ways... to that "cutting edge" cutting technique in the book... yes... quilting is for making memories!

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

I think that I had that book years ago! :) This was such a fun post!! :) I never knew how to sew at all ! In my early twenties I thought to try some clothes for my boys / then I moved on to quilting but had a 20 year hiatus until I picked it up again / Anyway just loved this :)

Kristi said...

I bought a used book last night at my son's school auction: It was a 1986 printing of a Jenny Beyer book! Such fun! I think in many ways quilt books are timeless!

Wendy Tuma said...

Isn't it a wonder we finished any quilts at all with those older methods? It must have been positively revolutionary when the rotary cutters came on the scene. I wasn't quilting then, but I recall my mom talking about them. I have a few of those older books too; they are fun to browse through and see how far we've come! Your little quilt has held up pretty well. I love the bright cheerful colors! Wendy at

Lisa J. said...

I think I'll go kiss my rotary cutter now! When I learned we were in the rotary cutter stage thankfully!

Jasmine said...

I love this trip down memory lane. I would much rather see the memories of a quilt than remember the mistakes. I love seeing quilts be used.

Preeti Harris said...

Eleventy billion mistakes were followed by eleventy billion and one kisses. I am sure this one was loved by your kids and must have so many memories - picnics, naps, mishaps associated with it.