300 Words about Quilting: Dreams & Goals for my Quilting
Quilters Newsletter invites you to share your quilt stories with other QN readers in 300 words or less. If you have a quilt story that fits the topics listed, be it funny, sad, poignant or anything in between, we want to hear from you. Send your story, its title and your complete contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “300 Words” in the subject line.
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Whenever I see a beautifully quilted masterpiece at a show, my heart skips a beat. I can feel the pounding in my chest and I have almost a shortness of breath. The painstaking application of precision piecework or applique, combined with the most intricate of quilting designs literally takes my breath away. While others around me exclaim, “I could never do that!” I secretly whisper to myself, “I can’t wait to do that.”
To say quilting makes me happy is an understatement. I never feel such peace and serenity as when I’m stitching alone with needle and cloth. I do have other habits that are supposed to help me stay balanced – I keep fit and healthy, spend quality time with my family and read a lot of good books. But is it too selfish to say that sometimes I just want to toss all my cares aside and make my masterpiece quilt? My magnum opus?
My award-winning masterpiece of a quilt is somewhere inside me, just waiting to escape.
So why haven’t I made it yet? In a word, FEAR! Fear of failure. Oh sure, I’ve entered quilts into my local guild’s show and have accumulated my fair share of colorful ribbons to show for it. But I’ve never entered a quilt into one of those big-time, knock-your-socks-off, national or international shows.
This is my secret desire—to enter and win a prestigious award at a major judged and juried show for the entire world to see. Do I dare say that out loud? What if my dream never comes true? I guess I’ll never know until I try.
My dream is taking me to Scotland to live for a year. I will be immersed in a myriad of fiber art-related workshops. I have been a pretty traditional quilter for nearly two decades, it is just in the last couple years that I first crept and then leaped into art quilting with all my heart, mind and soul.
By perusing quilt magazines, books and online quilting sites, I have discovered the variety of methods, the plethora of styles and the seemingly “no holds barred” universe of the art quilt. The first time I employed a glue stick to “quilt” I broke out in a sweat, expecting the quilt police at any minute! I began entering art quilt challenges, the format often small in size, which freed me to try new things without pressure to attain perfection at great investment of time or expense. It is all about learning and having fun. The more I studied various genres, the more I realized I was drawn to work created by very gifted artists living and teaching in the UK. I live in Washington State, US. “Dream on,” I told myself.
Meanwhile, my husband decided he was ready to retire and work full time researching and writing his book. His online surfing lead him to several exceptional libraries, all in the UK. Enter serendipity…
We are selling the house, a car, the truck. We have found new homes for the dog and two spoiled cats. We are downsizing earthly goods that will be stored for a year. Dreams are not without cost, thought and compromise. But dreams are worth it all.
What goal awaits my dream year? To come back home and share all I have absorbed by speaking to guilds, teaching workshops, writing articles and creating art quilts. And continue to dream.
A DREAM DELAYED, BUT FULFILLED
I first subscribed to Quilters Newsletter in 1979. One pattern that caught my eye was in issue #196, October 1987. It was called, Pumpkin Vine and was designed by Theresa Eisinger. It was a quilting design pattern that included a single pumpkin with leaves, a leaf vine border and a 26” diameter pumpkin wreath with seeds and crosshatching in the middle. I thought, “Someday, I want to make that, only I think I’ll applique it instead of just using the quilting design.” I happily gathered fabrics, copied the design, and bagged them up for future use.
Life intervened and we spent a year in Africa, but I dreamed about that pumpkin wreath waiting for me at home. When we returned, I found myself teaching full time again. I would walk into my sewing room and hear my waiting projects calling out, “Make me! Make me!” Sadly, I had to reply, “Later, I’m too busy and tired now.” My desk had been cleared of the sewing machine in favor of space to do lesson plans and grade papers.
Fifteen years later I retired from teaching and could finally pull out that Pumpkin Vine I’d dreamed about making for years. I discarded the orange poly-cotton I had set aside for the pumpkins back in ’87 in favor of one of the luscious new batiks – it was perfect for pumpkins. I kept the old VIP autumn stripe. With templates made, I set to work.
My goal now is to have it finished in time to hang this autumn. I’m almost there, just a few more pumpkin leaves to quilt around the border. A dreamed delayed, but fulfilled 25 years later!
My goal for my quilting is to not measure myself by the same yardstick as the other wonderful quilters in my guild. My dreams, since I began quilting in 1992, have grown after an injury changed how I quilt.
After an on-duty accident in late 2005 when I was a police officer, I found my quilting at the mercy of my physical limitations. Less than a year later, I had a total of five back surgeries, including spinal fusion that went bad and an eventual morphine pump implant. I felt so empty that year when I could not even physically sit at the sewing machine. Realizing I would never again hold a job, I worked through the anger and pain and began to try and create again. I realized my quilting goals and dreams needed to evolve to match my limitations.
I used to make large, traditional bed quilts, follow a pattern and pride myself on the amount of good work I could do. Now I am unable to quilt anything larger than a 40” square wall hanging. Unable to sit for more than 45 minutes, I need to limit myself to these smaller quilts. I have challenged myself to create original patterns and learn how to hand dye fabric. Through this work, my need to create is fulfilled in different and new ways than I had previously imagined. I set small goals, one at a time. Even if it doesn’t always work out, I force myself to try a technique that might bring to life the quilt that I see in mind.
My ultimate dream: a winning lottery ticket that will allow me to buy a Gammill longarm machine. Being able to quilt standing up – that would be a dream come true!
TO COVER WITH LOVE
My dreams for my quilts are to cover my nephews with love.
My goal in 1990 was to make a quilt for my nephew, a 12-year-old cowboy. A real cowboy who had horses and lived on the ranch. There was a lot of cowboy and horse fabric available and some of that fabric still resides in my scrap collection as I bought much more than I needed. By the time I finished that quilt, I was hooked and the cowboy’s sister was graduating from high school. My goal became to make a kids quilt and a high school graduation quilt for my 16 nieces and nephews. I could manage 16 quilts no problem.
Long before I finished those 16 quilts, I started making bachelor degree quilts and to date, one masters degree quilt. About two years ago, I finished the original 16 when my parent’s youngest grandchild graduated from high school. By then I had six great-nieces and nephews, I had finished five kids quilts for the greats and had a graduation quilt finished two years in advance, so I was feeling pretty caught up. I made a couple of Quilts of Valor and one quilt for my cousin’s son recently back from Iraq. Then, in one six-month period last fall, my family increased through marriages and births to nine great-nieces and nephews. Now I’m hopelessly behind, but hope to make those quilts eventually. As one of the new babies is the son of the nephew who started it all, I look forward to making a quilt for him much like the one I made for his father and using up some of those cowboy fabrics.
GENERATIONS IN THE MAKING
Beginners have the biggest dreams for their quilting endeavors. Learning how to quilt is special for me and my family. I am now part of the fourth generation of quilters in my family and could not be more proud to keep the tradition going. When my grandmother quilted years ago, she and other ladies would meet at someone’s house and all work on one quilt together to help finish it. Everything was beautifully done by hand. Then the next meeting would be at another’s house to work on their quilt. Recently my aunt discovered an old, tattered quilt that my great, great aunt made. Before passing it down to me she had it dated back to the 1920-30s. The quilt was not in the best condition, but it was still beautiful. It was even made with pieces of old clothing. Having this quilt survive so many years is extraordinary. Of course, it is in safe keeping now, but every once in a while I have to pull it out and just look at it. It is so delicate and striking.
I began quilting just three months ago and my biggest dream is that I will be able to create something so beautiful and that years and years from now my quilt will be passed down to someone who can love and adore the quilt. I have so much to learn and so many different techniques to try and master. Not only do I dream of learning as much as I can about quilting from experienced quilters and possibly owning my own crafting business, but what I really dream of is making that one-of-a-kind creation that will be passed down through the years and cherished.
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