buriedinscraps

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Archive for the tag “old quilts”

You’ve come a long way, baby!

I can remember when I first began to quilt.  I thought that I had to quilt like our grandmothers did. (Well, not my grandma..Maddie was way too modern to quilt! :-))  But you know what I mean.  I thought everything had to be done by hand and all fabric should be “recycled”.  That idea actually didn’t last long!  I came to love my sewing machine and rotary cutter and acrylic templates and quilt shop quality fabric and all that good stuff!  But what about our quilting ancestors?  How did they quilt?

At our last guild meeting, we had a presentation by Cathy Grafton.  Cathy came in period costume and in character to tell us how our great-great-greats sewed and quilted in the early 1800s.  It was a fascinating program!  I think what surprised me the most was that women of that period purchased new fabrics for quilts.  They did not use old clothing because they wore their clothing until they were basically rags.   And I thought I hung onto clothes for a long time!

She told us how precious needles and pins were at that time.  They were difficult to obtain and many times were shared.  At that rate, my husband has had a million dollars in and out of his feet over the years!  Needles and pins were treasured.  Think about how many we toss away.  I can see the look of horror on Hannah’s face!  Scissors were availabe but obviously not anything like the rotary cutters we’re so accustomed to using.  Items like that were carried with the woman in either a pocket that hung around her waist or a chatelaine that hung around her neck.

Of course, she also brought along some reproduction quilts that she made in the manner of the era.

Although it was an interesting evening, I have no desire to give up my sewing machine and all the modern notions.  We’ve come a long way, baby!

Here’s a question for you!  I was machine quilting a piece yesterday and I had a problem with a thread spool.  This spool had one of those little notches cut into the top and the thread kept getting stuck there.   I think it’s a cruel joke…they put a notch for every quilter that’s going to get thread stuck there!  I’m sure I’m not the only one this happens to.  What do you do to fix that?  It’s soooo aggravating!!!!

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Catching up….

When last we spoke, I was bemoaning the fact that my creative muse up and hit the road!  I believe she has found her way back to me.  Welcome back, little muse!

It’s funny how things can make you think of quilts.  I was driving home from work a few weeks back and heard “Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor on the radio.  It made me think of a quilt I made a while back.  It was back in the day when I (and many others) was enamoured by the Jane Stickell quilt.  I was determined that I was going to make one for myself…all 200 plus tiny blocks.  How hard could it be?  Pretty hard actually.   At least pretty time-consuming.  Then I saw where others were making smaller versions….Baby Janes.  I could do that!  And I did.  The song kept going through my head ….. “deep greens and blues are the colors you choose”.  So I chose deep greens and blues and made my own little Baby Jane.  Here’s my Sweet Baby Jane.

baby_jamesLast summer, my sister and I made another quilt for the veteran’s home.   It was my job to quilt it.  I was going to fmq on my Bernina but I was talked into using my Juki on the frame.  I’ve discussed my Juki/frame here before…when it works, it’s wonderful!  When it doesn’t, I make up swear words.  Let me tell you, I made up some doozies!  It began by lulling me into a false sense of security…things went rather smoothly for a while.  I was flying!  Then the thread started to break.  I’m OK with a little thread breakage…not every six inches.  Then the machine started to drag.  It was hanging up on the frame somehow.  Couldn’t figure it out.  The answer soon emerged when the crazy carriage fell off the rails.  Think that was what was dragging? 🙂  It took my husband and I a half an hour to get it back on track.  Started to stitch again and got the mother of all thread nests.  It was a nest for an ostrich!  Walked away from it for a week.  Came back and tried to remove the nest.  I had to cut it from the quilt and then take the  machine apart to remove all of the thread.  Cleaned it, oiled it and guess what!  It stitched really pretty after that.  We have a love/hate relationship!

charityHere’s the quilt.  I’m sure that all of my aggravation will be appreciated.

bookAnd last, but not least, I’ve jumped on the hexie bandwagon.  Given my aversion to hand sewing I was sure this parade would pass me by.  Then Mickey Depre came to our guild meeting.  If you haven’t seen her Pieced Hexie book click here and take a peek!  I stitched these all the way to Fort Lauderdale and back last week.  They really are fun….and addictive.  Begin at your own risk!!

hexiesAny other late-comers want to join me on the hexie bandwagon?

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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