Monday, October 11, 2010
My first quilt... completed 19 years later
My husband and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary yesterday, on 10-10-10! As a gift to him, I decided to finally finish a quilt that I started for him 19 years ago. It's the first quilt I'd ever made, and I dove into it knowing almost nothing about quilting. It would be 10 years later that I got introduced to rotary cutters, quilt stores, batting and binding. It remained unfinished mainly because after making the top, I didn't know how to bring the back, top and batting all together. I was also not too entirely happy with the result (just LOOK at that orange!), and I still wanted to make it bigger with borders.
So it remained tucked inside my fabric stash, moving from apartment to apartment, house to house. As I later learned more and more about quilting I became concerned about the open button holes, and as my quilting skills progressed this first quilt looked so homely and clumsy. But the sentiment behind it remained the same... a labor of love, made for a special person in my life.
My husband knew about it. He'd seen it move from place to place. Last week, as I pinned it all together, I hoped it would be a surprise gift. As usual, though, it took longer to quilt than I'd figured. I had to drag it out over the week-end in order to finish it on time. The look on his face when he saw me working on it was priceless! He, of all people, knows just how much time I spend quilting a single quilt.
When I first met him, he was a forester who's unofficial "uniform" was plaid flannel shirts. I love rainbows, so I went to the local Goodwill store and found as many colorful shirts as I could to make the quilt. I ended up buying some of the flannel at the fabric store, but could only find the solid blaze orange no matter how hard I looked. I thought it would be neat to leave the pockets and buttons on, and did. I bought a sheet for the back, and cut out the strips with scissors. I probably broke all of the "rules" of quilting all in this one quilt.
In order to finish it, I decided to forget the borders, keep it exactly the way it was, leave the button holes the way they were, use the sheet I still had for the back, and just do it. I started trying to stipple quilt it free-motion on my machine, but after a broken needle and some frustration, I decided to ditch that plan too, and just use my walking foot to make a grid pattern. To make things even easier, I just trimmed the back an inch all around the quilt, and brought it around to the top and sewed it to the front as a "mock binding". Quick, easy, cheap. And it's done!
Sometimes I think all the designer fabric, chic patterns and the long arm finishing does more to impede my quilting process than to help it. I want my quilts to be just like the beautiful ones in the quilt stores, shows, and blogs... But every time I see this once-closeted quilt I'll remember the couple who rented small apartments furnished with second-hand goods, and the time when I bought my quilting fabric from thrift stores. I'll also be reminded of how far I have come in my hobby. More importantly, I'll remember our new romance 19 years ago, and the true reason I love quilting. For me it's a way to show my love to family and friends.