Decide what to be and go be it.

You’ve come a long way, baby…

My sister posted a picture of a quilt she made years ago.  She pointed out all of the mistakes that were in that quilt…all the reasons why she was going to trash it.  Then her daughter rescued it (Way to go, Sam!!) from the trash heap and loved it to death…literally.  Death of the quilt I mean…Sam is alive and kickin’!   And my sister brought up a point about how far she had come as a quilter.

Something to ponder.  How far have you come as a quilter?  I remember that day about thirty years ago when I took my first quilting class.  I was a raw rookie.  I became obsessed with quilting.  Everyone got hot pads or pillows for Christmas that year.  I was a pillow making machine!  I thought they were beautiful.  Ohio Star…hand pieced…hand quilted…with stitches about 1/2 ” in length!  When my husband’s grandmother passed, I was reunited with one of those pillows.  Yikes!!!  Were the quilting gods laughing at me?  Was it the result of bad karma?  Whatever it was, this couldn’t be the pillow I gave her.  Mine was beautiful….not this hot mess!

It all came back to me.  Yep…this hot mess was one of my first endeavors.  Then I thought about my first real quilt.  It was a sampler I made for my son….just blocks and sashing…no borders.  At that time my idea of quilting was to quilt just like our great-grandmothers quilted…by hand with cardboard templates.  And even more than that, I would use whatever fabric I found lying around.  Even fabric that belonged somewhere else…like my husband’s uniform shirt. 🙂 It was the perfect blue and it was old…sort of.  After he discovered that I cut triangles from it, he locked up the rest of them!  I wish I could show you a picture of that quilt but it’s 1200 miles away with my son.   Sometimes I think that’s not even far enough away!  I guess the miles have spared me the embarrassment of sharing. 🙂

I think that looking back at my early quilts, I can say I’ve learned a few things.  First of all I can’t believe that I would only hand piece and hand quilt.  I wouldn’t dream of going near a machine.  Now I’m convinced that if our great-grandmothers had access to a machine they would have gladly used it!  It took me forever and a day to finish anything that way.  I liken it to quilting in quicksand...just…can’t…move…  I don’t say this as a knock against hand quilters.  Hand quilting is a thing of beauty and I truly admire it.  And I understand the peacefulness it brings to hand quilters.  It just doesn’t bring me that same peacefulness.  I truly love the hum of my Bernina.  While it’s humming away on Project A, my brain is humming on Project B…and C…and D…

I’ve also learned to use the best quality supplies I can afford.  A bargain is not always a bargain.  My husband’s shirt may have been the perfect blue, but if it was old to begin with, it had two strikes against it when it’s sewn into a quilt.

I’ve also learned to step out of the comfort zone occasionally.  I always go back to what I love, but  a walk on the wild side from time to time is fun!

These are lessons learned the hard way…with quilts that did not stand the test of time.  They did, however, stand the test of love.

Here’s a picture of one of my earliest quilts.  Would you look at those colors!

How far have I come as a quilter?  Pretty darn far!  And there’s a long road ahead.  So, let me ask you…how far have you come as a quilter?

And speaking of far, here are my latest Grandmother’s Choice blocks.  I love this quilt.  It reminds how far women have come and how much farther we have to go.  So, no matter if you are pro-life or pro-choice or pro-whatever your issue is,  please be pro-vote tomorrow.  Vote and let your voice be heard….for Grandma!


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26 thoughts on “You’ve come a long way, baby…

  1. I love the limited choice of fabric we had back then. lol. Lovely. Just lovely. lol

    And thank you from refraining from showing my quilt on your bed. Lordy lol.

    But I remember hanging out with you on Monday nights piecing by hand all those gorgeous calicoes and dead solids. Good memories.

    Thanks for me teaching me what you learned. My stitching sister…I miss those days.

  2. And one more comment. When I was making that Irish Chain I learned a lot about its history. And one thing that I did learn was when a woman could afford a machine those quilts were made on a machine. And she would take in work because she had a machine. 😉

  3. I was wondering when you were going to trot those blocks out to be seen – curious minds ya know- and they are lovely blocks!

    My Nana quilted. Sadly, none of her quilts exist today, they were well loved and well used I’m sure. But I’ve always been quite certain that if she’d had access to a machine, those quilts would have been machine pieced at the very least.

    I was completely smitten by quilting when I began – still am. I did the hand piecing and quilting like so many beginning quilters do. Sore (and sometimes bleeding) fingers from the hours spent on the hand work smartened me up. I love my machines (one electric, one treadle), and I can’t imagine giving up either.

    We still sleep under my first quilt, basting-sized stitches and all, every single night in winter. It’s starting to show a little wear and tear… but then, so am I!

    • No one in my family quilted. My aunt and I learned at the same time. She is a machine piecer and a hand quilter. Her quilting is beautiful.

      The quilt Imade for our bed has long since bit the dust. It shredded. I think I can attribute that to using it daily and inexpensive (I hate the word cheap. :-)) fabric. Live and learn.

      Glad you like the blocks. I love the quilt and I love the history lessons we get with it. Scary…it wasn’t that long ago that women were second class citizens. Don’t want to go back there. 😦 Ever….

  4. Thank you so much for the memory-laden post!!! Will have to do one (tomorrow?) with photos of my first project(s) done 38 years ago…..hand pieced, hand quilted with stitches a 1/2″ long(well, maybe a little smaller!!!)!!! Lovin’ my machine(s)!!!

  5. Love how you have related your quilting history with the Grandmother’s Choice project and voting!

  6. What a great post. I shudder when I look at my first piece. Plus of course the thought that we might be in touch with quilters across the world through blogs was beyond our wild imaginings.

    Great comments about voting too.

    • It’s incredible how we can be in touch with quilters everywhere. I know in my case, that’s helped me tremendously. Someone always knows the answer to whatever question you might have. Quilters play nice with others.

  7. quilt32 on said:

    Love this post and I also checked out your sister’s blog which I’m going to follow (great posts). I voted early so I can sit around today and be anxious about the results.

  8. My sister is the creative one. I like to merrily quilt in my own little comfort zone and she likes to walk on the wild side! 😉 I originally taught her and now hse teaches me. Things come full circle.

  9. Pingback: Well loved…….. | Treadlemusic

  10. I can’t believe your sister would have thrown that away! So glad you mentioned her blog – now I have another great blog to follow!

  11. I voted early! I’ve come a long way too… Starting with Wal-Mart fabrics, and now I’m a fabric snob! LOL! (Even though I buy cheap thread. At Wal-Mart.)

  12. I really enjoyed this post! I’ve only been quilting for a few years, so I am still at the stage where I’m making hot messes… lol No-one in my family is a quilter, so they are none the wiser either way! Bless ’em. 🙂 You sum it up wonderfully: ‘They did, however, stand the test of love.’

  13. I haven’t been quilting terribly long, but I went from hand pieceing to machine and that is a far distance, let me tell you! Anyway, you left a comment on my blog (vesuviusmama.blogspot.com) about wanting to help make quilt blocks for Sandy Relief, but you are a no-reply commenter so I can’t send you my mailing address. Please email me and I’ll send it to you. Thanks for helping out!

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