Monday, August 23, 2010

My First Quilt

Well, all this discussion about tools for quilting has me thinking about my roots in this art. Like many of you I did not come to quilting early in my life. I am the oldest of ten children so there was much to do. Remember when variety stores, AKA dime stores, AKA five and dimes, carried soft flannel baby garments stamped with embroidery designs? I stitched a lot of those. Being the oldest, I was my mother's right hand girl. Together we made clothing for all, did the laundry, ironing, house cleaning and cooking.

I went on to embroidery, crewel, counted cross stitch, needlepoint and more. In 1961 I married a sailor who looked a lot like the famous young man who came home from the war to get his picture taken kissing a beautiful young woman. Made all the news. That was not us. Our first child was born in 1963. At the baby shower given by friends and family I received a snowy white Baby Pepperil blanket. Oh it was so soft and beautiful. I had no idea how to accomplish this but I decided to applique this blankie with sweet baby animals and embroidered flowers etc. My fabrics were pastel velours attached with blanket stitch. Sweet. I gave her the blanket a few years ago. Perhaps we should encourage her to share it with all of you? Our little boy also slept under that blanket/ quilt.

I continued to stitch, but but knew nothing really about quilts as there were none in my personal history. I attended many needlework shows, a pre-curser I think to quilt shows and once bought a quit magazine. I knew it was for me instantly and hounded a friend of mine to join me in making our first pieced quilts. We both decided to make the Postage stamp pattern above. It was constructed on the machine. Otherwise I am sure I would still be working on it. The year was 1976. I had been entering embroidery and pumpkin pies, etc in the county fair for a lot of years and that year I entered my quilt. I still do not know how it happened to this day, but I won the first Best of Fair award ever offered by the Alameda County Fair. A big ribbon and a silver tray.
It was a joyful time for me.

I had the quilt after that day for only five months. In the early morning hours of a fall night there was a fire in the house where my sister and her family were living. The fire took her baby girl and nearly took the rest of the family. I remember feeling so helpless. I could attend the services, look after her little boys, cook meals, but nothing seemed to make a difference. My husband tried so hard to help me help her, but it did seem meaningless. At one point he suggested I give her the quilt. Almost right away, I knew I was going to do just that. I hugged her and told her I loved her and while I couldn't change anything that I wanted her to have this quilt. I don't know if it made the slightest difference but I have no regret. I think sometimes you do something because your heart will break if you don't.

I believe I came to quilting because there is so much heart in the creation. I hope that while my story is sad at times that you share your first quilts too. warmly, Nadine

5 comments:

vintagefindings@me.com said...

Your true story is so touching. My first quilt was made with a cardboard template about the size of a brick. I drew around each rectangle and sewed the colorful scraps together off center. I tied that quilt and backed it with a colorful bed sheet. Eventually the ties wore out and it fell apart. I threw the batting and the sheet away but I still have the quilt top--torn, worn, and tattered.

Purple Pam said...

Nadine, your story is so heartfelt. My first quilt was a baby quilt I made for one of my children's teachers. I had a friend's children, and mine, each draw a picture on fabric with fabric crayons. I cut blocks and sewed them to sashing and called it a quilt. No pattern, just an idea. I tied it and gifted it to the expectant mother. Now that I look back, that quilt was not the best, but it was from the heart.

Linda said...

Your story is very moving. My first quilt (and I am 62) will be the one I finish for my daughter. I have the fabric and the basic design in my head. I finished one quilted block when I was in my 30s and have not been an active quilter since then, but I loved it from the beginning. I will be drawn to your blog for inspiration!

Star said...

That was a lovely, interesting post and sad too, of course. You are right about the quilts being stitched with love. I have recently made a small cot quilt for my new grandchild, who is due to be born in mid October. I know I stitched a lot of love into it and I hope that love surrounds him/her for many months to come.
Blessings, Star

oregonpatchworks said...

Its so touching...Nice experience of yours..thanks for sharing with us.....

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