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My list of firsts… or when did I become a quilter? Part 1

Posted on: 24 June 2008

Have you ever thought about when you became a quilter? Was it when you couldn’t stop buying fabric? Was it the very first project you started? First project finished?

Do you remember you first quilt? I do, and this blog is about the story of my first quilt… as well as my other firsts in my quilting adventure.

When I was about 9 or 10, I started my first quilt – a “patchwork” quilt. I don’t remember now, why I wanted to make a patchwork quilt. All I know, is I started gathering fabric. A pair of PJ’s I had favoured since I was 8, was cut up. Other clothing too small, was fair game. A few pieces of fabric my Mom had used to make us clothes. A few blouses from my grandmother who didn’t require them anymore. A pair of jeans from somewhere. I cut squares/rectangles and pieced them together in a row. Then stitched the rows together. And continued for about 6 strips or so (sew?). A life change happened, my parents split up, my sister and I took a bit before we settled again, and this quilt was forgotten, for a time.

It all began with this?

Then my second first occurred. In a grade ten class, I learnt to make a star quilt pillow. As you can see, it is not a star, even back then, I changed things to suit me. I gave the pillow away to my grandma as a gift. They shortly moved away, and I had forgotten about that pillow. After the passing of my grandmother, and the subsequent move of my grandfather into their condominium and my “new” found interest in quilting, I asked Mom, if it was possible that Granpa still had my pillow. Amazingly enough he did. With Mom’s visit at the beginning of the month, she brought it to me.

Is this where it began?

Amazingly enough I kept the instructions… for some day! I’m not sure when it happened, could it have been the course at school? My quilt from when I was 9 or 10 surfaced again, and I added a few more pieces to it. Again, finding favourite clothes to small, or bits of fabric from a sewing class in grade eight. I wanted to finish the thing… so the patchwork pieces became much bigger. Other interests became important, and the poor quilt was put away again.

More life changes – graduation from high school. Marriage and children. A couple of moves. My eldest daughter was interested in doing some sewing. I think she was just beginning her teen-age years. She discovered my unfinished forgotten quilt, and wanted to add to it. Unfortunately, that never happened, as life does that from time to time.

Fast forward to the end of 2004, beginning of 2005. My eldest daughter was expecting her first child. When I had my first two, they were made quilts my their grandmother. I wanted to do the same. The only experience I had was from the class… many many years before. I designed my first quilt… using a spreadsheet program… easy to make squares! I have not made that quilt yet, and I have since redesigned it using EQ5 software. It is on my must-do list!

First Quilt Design

Now to 2006. With the passing of my father, from a short battle with cancer, I decided I wanted to make something. My father did not have much by way of personal wealth or belongings. A plan started to form… something for my two sisters and his common-law wife. Something to treasure and remember him. I asked his CL wife, what she had planned with his shirts. She didn’t want to give them away to the thrift store yet, as she didn’t want to see other men walking around town wearing them. I boldly asked if I could have them, that I had an idea. Without anything further, I got his shirts. She had some difficult times after his passing, and I would come and stay with her for a few hours in the evening, or overnight, to give her some peace of mind. During these times, I started designing a quilt, using his shirts. Still had no idea what I was doing. I wanted to incorporate his favourite things… the colour blue, roses and bald eagles. His initial would be made from his shirts. I chose an off-white tone on tone for the background.

What was I thinking... or not knowing any better.

I started reading a little bit about quilting on the internet. I needed a stash. This leads to another first! Building one’s stash. I thought the best way, and possibly the cheapest was to buy fabric from eBay. WOW, I can get 48 patches for a couple bucks. I went on a shopping spree. Several hundred 4″ squares later… I came to realize, this was not the most efficient way to build a stash.

While thinking of making a quilt to remember my dad, I thought I would revisit making those pillows. After all, I did it ummm… 20 plus years ago, I can do it again. I brought the subject up with my youngest two, and asked them if they would like to spend a weekend making pillows. They would get to choose their fabric (which meant a shopping trip), and off we went. My first quilt fabric shopping trip. Little did I know, that poly-cotton blends would not necessarily make the best quilt (not going to go into that debate). We got the three pillows made.

Now I think I am ready to tackle my dad’s quilts… I can make it using triangles (after all, I just made 3 pillows and isn’t that the best way.

But before I tackle my Dad’s quilt…. need to get the pillows finished I started with the kids. Here are the three we made together… this time using the star, or the instructions as intended.

This is the beginning of my firsts. I will continue listing my other firsts in my next blog entry.

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5 Responses to "My list of firsts… or when did I become a quilter? Part 1"

Very touching entry re: your father and your quilt for him. That will be a wonderful keepsake. The pillows turned out nice. I like that planet fabric.

Thank you Judi. I made the three… I haven’t been able to make the one for me yet. It was very therapeutic, helped me heal from his sudden passing. -Alice

I still love looking at your childhood quilt, I don’t know if it’s the delightful randomness or the memories contained in the fabrics.

Your father’s memory quilt will really be something to treasure.

Jen :o)

Glad to hear you are still enjoying it! I was hoping to have it finished for the year-end party… but that didnt’ happen. My goal is to finish it this summer. I have so many things to finish… one quilt at a time, that will be my motto for the summer! -Alice

Alice, I think it’s marvellous that you started quilting so young and that you have your first projects.

The quilts to remember your Father using his shirts are such a lovely memento for all concerned.

I’m sure you look at those pillows and are reminded of the time spent with your children making them.

Quilting is such a wonderful journey and I’m enjoying your story…

Cheers Ann.

Hi Ann, thanks! I think I have the oldest (or pretty darn close) UFO in the world! Hmm… I wonder if there is a Guinness World Record on that! After starting this blog, I quickly realized how may “firsts” I have. -Alice

I enjoyed reading this entry, and I’m looking forward to reading more about your “firsts”.

Hi Gail, thanks for stopping by. I’m hoping to get back to work on that tomorrow! -Alice

[…] have posted about my first quilt on my blog here.  This blog was a list of firsts that I had done with relation to […]

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