My Adventures in Quilting
Sewing is something that has always come very naturally to me. Like most quilters, I was taught to sew by my mother. But she didn’t quilt. She was a garment sewer. She could make a Halloween costume like no one else. But I’ll come back to her another time.
It was actually my Aunt Annette who was always the quilter in the family. She is the youngest of 5 children. She used to use the Ping-Pong table in the basement of my grandparents house to work and layout her quilts. The basement was also where they kept the games and toys so that’s where my brother, cousins and I would play when we were children. I would always look at all of these tiny fabric pieces sprawled out on the table and think “how interesting”. I always knew not to touch but I knew nothing about what was being done with them. And I knew she was “quilting” but I also had little idea what that meant since I never saw any finished quilts around at anyone’s house. I found out more recently that she just liked making the tops. She still has a stack of tops folded up in a chest somewhere.
I started quilting when my husband was in the army. I was looking for a hobby that would take up my time since he spent a lot of time on deployment. I had no idea what I was doing. I eventually called my Aunt Annette and asked her how to start. When my Aunt Annette found out that I was taking up quilting, she gave me what is probably to this day still the best advice I’ve ever gotten…”Get a walking foot”. She was right. When I first got it, I thought it was only used for the actual quilting step of the process. Nowadays, I use that thing all the time. I’ve even pieced entire quilt tops with it when I was using some delicate fabric. I have passed that same advice on to every beginning quilter I have ever run across. About a week after her magical advice, I received a package in the mail. My aunt had mailed me all of her quilting books. They walked me through getting started. I still have them and refer to them sometimes for inspiration.
So, this was in 2004. I made about 4 complete quilts and then had to hang it up for a bit because I decided to go back to school and work. Working full time and going to school full time pretty much took any spare time I had. It was actually handy that my husband was always deployed, because it allowed me to focus on school. I’m not saying he wasn’t a welcome distraction, but he was a distraction none the less. In 2007, I graduated Summa Cum Laude with my bachelor’s degree, I was a production supervisor at a plant in Manhattan, Kansas, and my husband was getting out of the army and going back to school himself. I wanted, scratch that, needed a creative outlet. I turned to photography which had always been a passion of mine. I was a shutter-bug since I was about 5 years old and could hold a camera on my own. Given that you could purchase a high quality digital camera fairly cheeply and you can even get a pretty decent camera on your phone, there isn’t much call for photographers anymore. I started to have some success with real estate photography, but, again, cameras are cheap. So I hung up my lenses.
At some point in 2013, we were living in Kansas City. I decided I wanted to start quilting again. Almost on a whim. I bought some fabric in black, white, and teal, and made a rail fence quilt. I didn’t know at the time what the pattern was called, but it is what the fabric inspired me to make. I didn’t plan sizes, batting material, understand seam allowances, know how to bind. The fact was, I still knew very little, but I knew I wanted to do this. It actually came out cute. From that moment, it was on. I took over the tiny dining room in our tiny apartment and went hog wild. I bought fabric, patterns, books and just sewed.