Monday, December 21, 2009

How I started quilting

On the Stashbuster list someone asked how we all started quilting. That brought back such a great memory that I thought I'd share my response here, too.

Picture two women sitting on the floor in a living room with two huge garbage bags full of fabric - scraps, strings, remnants, mis-sewed pieces, you name it. With every piece pulled out we're saying 'ooh, look at this one,' 'oh, how pretty,' etc. That was November 2000 and is the date when I changed from wanting to learn to quilt to being a quilter, even though it was four more years before I finished my first quilt!

I'm at least a fourth generation quilter, though my mom is more of a top-maker. Growing up the quilt on my bed was a 1930s bow-tie that my mom and great-grandmother made. I started sewing my own clothes in ninth-grade and made various patchwork and quilted items over the years as part of my sewing.

Summer 2000 I found a vintage sewing machine (1930s Singer 15-91) at a thrift store, brought it home and in researching it, discovered the Treadle On list. With their help I bought my first treadle and in November a group member who lived near Atlanta invited me to spend the day with her and another member who was visiting. My brother-in-law and family lived near her, so I drove up on Friday and headed to her house on Saturday. The three of us looked at and talked about her sewing machines, then went to a couple of antique shops. Then the other visitor had to leave and the two of us went to a quilt store that was about to close.

It was my first visit to a quilt shop and I bought some beautiful fabric for my first block exchange, which was coming up. Then my friend mentioned that she wanted to make a log cabin quilt but that it would take a long time for her to get enough scraps. The shop owner invited her to help herself from a box full of strings. After my friend took a small bag full, the shop owner took over. She pulled out a big garbage bag and dumped the box in, then started pulling out scraps and remnants from under her cutting table. When the first bag was full she started filling a second. We took those bags back to my friend's house and spent hours digging through them. Her husband said we were like two kids on Christmas morning.

My friend insisted on sharing with me and the fabric I brought home with me was the beginning of my quilting stash, and I still have strings and crumbs from that windfall in my boxes.

In 2001 I participated in my first block exchange and after about three years of block exchanges I decided I had better learn to finish a quilt. I finished my first quilt, a BOM in Christmas fabrics, in 2004 and haven't stopped since.