300 Words about Quilting: I Won't Give Up

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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 submissions@qnm.com. Put “300 Words” in the subject line.

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I called myself a quilter, but I was really a fabric collector. Color and pattern inspired me, finding new and different combinations thrilled me, but I never finished a quilt. Why would I want to? Being surrounded by a pile of gorgeous fabric, envisaging ever-changing combinations was fun. But cutting out pieces? Ugh. Figuring yardage? Yawn. Piecing? Fine when it worked, not so good when corners didn’t meet and seams didn’t lay flat. And how many blocks do I have to make? I’d say, “I know, here’s what I can do instead!” and off I went on another round of designing and brainstorming and sketching. Quilting was supposed to be fun. It was my escape. Surely it didn’t matter if I didn’t finish a quilt?

Then I redid my sewing area and got my fabric properly stored so I could see it all. Wow, I thought, what a great stash, look at all those fantastic fabrics! So when I met a friend of mine, I told him about my great new quilting area. He harrumphed and said, “You’re not a quilter. Show me a quilt you’ve finished!”

I was stunned. He was right. Quilters finished quilts. I had so many UFOs I could have worked for NASA. I bought beautiful fabrics, sure, but they sat there instead of being made into something even more beautiful: a finished quilt that had my heart and soul (and beautiful fabrics) in it.

I settled on one project. I stopped myself from adding colors or changing blocks. I’ve cut out all the pieces, stitched them into blocks and then into rows, and restitched the rows and blocks that needed it (alas, far too many). All that’s left is putting the rows into one great, big, beautiful quilt top. I haven’t even got around to basting and quilting, but I will. I’m getting there, and I won’t give up.



Quilts have been an important part of my life since the early 1960s and filled many of my hours with great, creative energy. Since finishing my first quilt in 1964, I followed the typical path for many quilters – learning the history of the craft and practicing it over and over. By the time I entered my first competition in 1992, I had been working for over 30 years. So this is nearly a lifetime activity.

Last year I found myself unable to physically work in my workroom, and that meant no more cutting fabric, choosing patterns and all the attendant processes needed to make a quilt. My last effort hung on the design wall waiting to be basted, but I wasn’t able so it remained unfinished. It was a corner in my life that I resented having to turn.

I got a new knee instead and did the rehab – my first surgery and the doc said I’d picked a doozy for my first experience. I have now started a new quilt – and am planning another. I can stand for about 10 minutes and it does mean I can work again, although more slowly. It is wonderful!

At 82, as I plan my move to an assisted living center, some of my stash comes with me – a few rulers, books of designs, some supplies and a prominent place in my new one-room home will be occupied by my worktable and sewing machine.

Because, above all, I can still see to sew and quilts keep me looking to the future – I have plans!



45 years ago I had three small children, worked full-time, helped my husband on the farm and sewed in my “spare” time. I decided I wanted to learn to quilt.

I started from a pattern ordered from the newspaper. It was the bird and flower of each state done in embroidery stitches, an iron-on pattern, and as I later found out, not of lasting quality. I ironed on some of the squares using bleached cotton and actually finished a few. Several years passed and I continued to work on my project. Eventually the iron-on process faded and I had to tape the pattern and fabric to a window and trace it. I persevered and finally finished all of the states. I set them together with blue, solid cotton, five across and 10 down. Not the most appropriate size for a quilt, but I had a lot to learn. I began quilting, using the large (36-inch) hoops. I couldn’t get the hang of it as it seemed I needed another hand to hold the hoops. I never thought about laying the hoop on a chair, I gave up! My boss suggested I let his mother, who lived in eastern Kentucky, quilt it. I mailed it to her and she finished in record time.

I have since learned to hand and machine quilt, but that quilt was a 17-year ordeal. I know because my son, who was a baby when I started, was 17 when it was finished. He says it’s his quilt because he grew up with it. Guess I will have to put that in my “quilt will.”


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