When Diane asked us to plan a blog post about our early machine quilting experiences, my first response was “Nooooooo!”
Really??? My first machine quilting (and all my early quilting) experiences were so, well, messy.
Here’s my story in a nutshell: I had a friend who kind of taught me to quilt, but she was kind of a bossy know-it-all, and those kind of people make me crazy. So I guess I kind of quilted in secret, so she couldn’t tell me what to do. Which means I often learned what NOT to do before I learned WHAT to do.
And I was a young mother with three young children. So we had no money for classes or buying books. All the quilt books in the library were from 1822, so I was mostly on my own.
And I’m kind of sassy and stubborn, so I refused to ask for help and figured “How hard can it be?” I could figure it out on my own. Which means, well, you’ll see…
My very first project was a table runner. I’m so sad that I can’t find it. But here, pull up a chair and I’ll tell you about it. I cut every square and triangle of that table runner out with a template. EVERY piece. My bossy friend told me to. (See what I mean?)
After I pieced it, I proceeded to quilt it. Without lowering my feed dogs (what were those?) no pins (duh) and brown thread (it was a fall table runner, you know) which resulted in teeny weeny weeny BROWN stitches that were impossible to pick out, and wonky corners.
And then I cut 6-1/2″ binding strips (yes, true story) and bound it. You can imagine what the binding looked like on the back. (Apparently a little wide, but I thought it was a good place to start.) Then I put it on my dining room table and decided I didn’t like my table anymore and we needed a new dining set. My husband called it my “$1000.00 table runner.”
Then I moved on to a full size quilt. (How hard can this be?) I saw a picture in a magazine, figured out the size of strips I needed and made the top (really fast, ’cause I had little people who wanted to play with my strips).
Then I had the bright idea that I should probably stabilize it with pins this time. So I proceeded to use straight pins (yes, true story). About a million straight pins. (See the pin in the photo below? Still there. Quilted in. From about 20 years ago.) And yes, my arms looked like I had been attacked by a dozen cats by the time I finished quilting this quilt.
I had heard by then that gray was a good color to quilt with, so I used gray. But I didn’t know that you were supposed to secure your stops and starts (and there were many!) so I have many a gray thread poking out of that quilt.
But I was so proud of that quilt. I bound it, (using 4-1/2″ strips this time – whoops, still too wide) and no, I didn’t know how to do the corners yet.
We hung it on the wall, and my cat proceeded to chew on it.
I eventually learned how to pin correctly, mark motifs and gained confidence. My quilting was still wobbly, and my thread color wasn’t always the best choice.
And I still didn’t know how to bind corners.
And apparently I was in such a hurry to finish this quilt (below) I completely forgot to quilt the border. But look at that awesome corner!
But I was in love. I had found my passion.
I practiced and practiced.
And practiced some more. And I learned to cut my binding 2-1/4″ wide.
All because I love it. Quilting soothes my soul and makes me happy.
Was your early quilting “messy”? I’d sure love to hear about it. Because we’re all in this together, you know. Don’t give up on your quilting—if I can do it, so can you!!
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As part of Quiltmaker’s Year of Machine Quilting in 2014, staff members have shared their early machine quilting experiences. Read more Year of Machine Quilting blog posts. Find lessons, ideas and inspiration at quiltmaker.com/machinequilting.