Monday, October 26, 2015

Did You Find Quilting or Did Quilting Find You?

I always love hearing stories about quilters and what drew them to become quilt makers. Here's my story:

All my life I have been drawn to textiles and fiber. I'm not sure where it came from. Here is the first thing I ever made. I was five or six years old. I don't know if I asked for this or if it was given to me to see if I had interest. Some of the yarn has started to deteriorate. I suppose that speaks to just how old this is. Ahem.

Here's the second thing I made. I was maybe seven. I know that I asked for more once I had completed that first piece but I don't think I selected this for myself. You can see where I had no idea what to do where the colors changed. There are a few spots with no stitching. Buy hey, pretty good for a kid!

There were always quilts at my grandmother's house. I asked her about them regularly but she always downplayed their significance. They were made for utility and weren't considered any sort of artistic endeavor. I have five of those quilts now, and they are real treasures.

What I love most about them is that even in all their vintage traditional goodness, there are some modern elements. I plan to do a more detailed post about these quilts in the near future. They are definitely worthy of more than a single picture.

My mom dabbles in all sorts of arts and crafts, including quilt making. She does not have the burning passion for quilt making like I do, but there are a few quilts around that were made by her hand.

There was a quilt shop in Stone Mountain, Georgia, which isn't far from where I grew up. We would stop in anytime we were shopping in town. One day, as we were leaving, I told my mom that I could lay on the floor in that store, gaze at the fabric, and be happy forever. She thought I was crazy. I was probably twelve or thirteen then.

One of my first opportunities to make a quilt was in home economics class in high school. I cannot find it now but it was a simple table topper, using fabric scraps I had on hand. It resembled a trip around the world design and was hand quilted.

Later in high school, I got my first sewing machine. The theory was that it would hold my interest and keep me out of typical teenage trouble. It mostly worked. I made clothes more than anything else on that machine. This is the outfit I wore to my high school graduation.

I was very proud of the hand embroidery on the top. We were required to wear a white dress.

I did not really start making quilts until I had children. So, I think I found quilting, even though it had been tapping me on the shoulder for a long time. I knew it was out there, and I was searching, and reaching, and finally I got a hold of it. And once I found it, I knew I would never let it go. This is one of the first large quilts I ever made.

The funny thing is that this is so not my style. I made it for my daughter and it isn't her style either. We must have been having a traditional moment when we picked this one out. The other thing is that I am hand quilting it.

It isn't finished, even though I went ahead and bound it. It is fine folded on my shelf for now. Someday, all that hand quilting will get done. And I do love it, even if it isn't something I would choose to make today.

Sometimes, I make quilts because I love being absorbed in the creative process. Sometimes I make quilts because I want to forget other parts of my life for a while and quilt making is the perfect outlet for that. Sometimes, I make quilts as a way to help others. Sometimes, it is as if quilting possesses me and I am compelled to try a new idea or project. For me, quilt making is a passion.

So, what's your story? Did you find quilting or did quilting find you? What is it that you love most about quilt making? I'd really love to hear your story.

Other posts that might interest you:
Old Family Quilts 
Works in Progress: Treadle Piecing and Machine Quilting

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