300 Words about Quilting: How I Got Hooked On Quilting

How I Got Hooked On Quilting

QN 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 at below–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. Write “300 Words” in the subject line.

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Why I love my quilt guild: March 15, 2012

If I had a chance to do it over, I'd… : May 15, 2012                        

Dreams and goals for my quilting: July 15, 2012

The First Hook
Hard to imagine the first hook was set in 1978. It was a Grandmother's Flower Garden in calicos and white eyelet mail ordered from the local Sears outlet. Being a confident sewer I would machine piece the blocks since hand stitching would be much too slow.  Thirty-three years and three finished blocks later, it really is an old UFO.

The second hook was gently set in 1992 by the local PBS programs, specifically the home building and renovation shows that were aired starting at 4 pm.  Often losing track of time and missing some or all of the shows, which was very annoying since they were run in sequence, I began turning the TV on first thing in the morning.  One day an early afternoon quilting program caught my ears with talk of rotary cutters and chain piecing. Those were cool concepts; they would really speed up the process. Maybe it was time to think about quilting again. I started paying attention to the quilting programs too, so now if they would just move that painting show in between, my Sunday afternoons would be pure bliss.

The final hook came a few months later as I was checking out the latest building magazines. There was the Jan/Feb 1993 issue of Quilters Newsletter with Moneca Calvert's February on the cover.  Wow!  No more maybes about it.  There was a quilt shop on the way home from work. It was time to start stash building, Sunday afternoons were totally booked and the building magazines were history. Hundreds of quilting magazines and books, countless meters and fat quarters, numerous spools of thread, thousands of beads, plus fabric dyes, crayons, pens, stamps, stencils and untold gadgets later, I admit to being well and truly hooked.  In 2002 I was able to personally thank Moneca for her part in creating my addiction. It's time to thank QN for their part.  Your magazine has been a major source of my quilting education, thanks for all the fabulous articles and exceptional pictures that are a continual inspiration.  Now I'm working on hooking the next generation.

Finally Hooked

In February 2009, after 18 years in a telecommunications/IT career, I found myself unemployed. My life had always been busy raising three children, working full time and going to college. I was lost and confused as to what I was going to do with all this free time. Of course I was actively searching for employment but that was a very difficult with the current recession.

Reflecting on my life became a daily routine. I thought this was the time to try something new. As a young girl I never had any desire to learn how to sew. I was okay with the cooking classes but my preference was science and math. Change is permanent and I had changed, too. So I mentioned to my mom that I would like to learn how to sew. Surely this surprised her but she never said a word.
Christmas came and I was still unemployed. In May I finally earned my bachelors degree but still didn’t have any new activities to fill the void. This was about to change!  I am opened the first present on Christmas Eve from my mom – my first sewing machine. The next present was a quilting starter kit complete with cutting mat, rotary cutter, and ruler. The following week my mom and I enrolled in a quilt-as-you-go class. The rest is history.

I found my life’s passion. My mom says I am a natural. I have since upgraded my sewing machine three times and most recently took the plunge and bought a computerized long-arm. In two years I have made seven quilts and returned to work full-time. I can hardly wait to get “permanently” laid off again so I will have all the time in the world to follow my new career path - quilting.

Broken Leg Results in New Hobby
Blame it on a motorcycle accident. Tooling down a sandy road my husband dumped our Honda Goldwing which left me with a broken leg resulting in surgery followed by three months of no weight bearing.

Boredom will drive one to do strange things. Desperate for something, I found a quilt pattern from the 1930's. Settling on the sofa I made the traditional cardboard patterns and cut out the fabric pieces for a pillow top allowing for 5/8" seams. After all, that's what one did when constructing a garment. My Mother had made quilts in the 1940's and 50's so I knew the procedure. I hand pieced the pillow top, made the sandwich, basted it together and began to quilt. Quilting was the challenge. My handwork was always better than average but more than once I had remarked to Mother that if I was going to do that tiny stitching, I would darn socks. Now I was quilting! A three day class on lap quilting at the Adult Center got me started in the right direction. This resulted in a queen size sampler quilt using a floral print, with bubble-gum pink and blue and green accents in each block. Thinking I wanted to be a purist, I did it all by hand.

Now, twenty years later, I am a charter member of the Covington County Quilters Guild in Southern Alabama and co-chair of the next Quilt Show. I continue to learn, no longer a purist, using all the available short cuts, latest tools and a scant quarter inch seam. I lap quilt without a hoop and recently completed a twin size white on white which I carted all over the country for five years – all because of a broken leg.

An Inherited Gene
If a love of fabric and a sewing machine is an inherited trait like blond hair and blue eyes - then that says it all. Quilting and I are a natural fit. I had two great aunts who were seamstresses. They were wonderfully funny and very talented when it came to sewing. Then there was my grandmother who helped me make my first doll clothes on her treadle sewing machine at age 5. Fast forward to high school when Mother helped make my first dress. Over the years I made clothes for myself, my daughters, and even a couple of leisure suits for my husband.

Mother also taught me other forms of needlework - embroidery, knitting, and needlepoint. I was in my needlepoint phase in the late 70s. One day I had the 'need' for a new needlepoint book, and went to the needlework store. I found a book that caught my fancy. As I was looking at the books, I spied a copy of Quilters Newsletter on the shelf. On the cover was a woman surrounded by log cabin quilts. I was intrigued and picked it up. As I flipped through the pages, a whole new world opened up to me. I bought the needlepoint book and the magazine. I went home and read the magazine from cover to cover and was hooked. I ordered back issues and a subscription and never looked back. I took up quilting with a vengeance and forgot dressmaking. I threw myself totally into quilting, helped start a local guild, opened a quilt shop, and wrote several quilt books. Finding the magazine that day was the start of the best part of my life.

p.s. I don't remember ever reading the needlepoint book.

Quilting Instead
Back in 1980 I was looking for an excuse to get out of the house one night a week. So I went to our local park district office to sign up for a flower arranging class. When I got to the office I was told the class was filled. I asked what class they had an opening in (I really wanted a night out) the lady said, "The quilting class has an opening." I had a vague notion it was some kind of decorating class. I replied, "O.K., sign me up." The night of the class came and I saw my first ever quilt. I fell in love. There was only one problem, I didn't sew. I knew how to sew on a button and that was about all. The teacher, Mary Conley, said, "Don't worry". She was going to teach me anyway. After 8 weeks and 8 poorly made blocks I had a quilt top. For better or worse I was hooked. I set out to quilt my sampler top. My stitches were about 3/4 of an inch long but I had made a quilt, and I loved every minute of it.

31 years later Mary is one of my best friends. The quilt group, the Piecemakers, she and Kathy Smith started has over 40 members. I have become a decent quilter. I even have won a couple of Blue Ribbons. I learned to use a sewing machine – I now have 3 – and I can't imagine life without quilting. Quilting has been the most enjoyable thing I have ever done and I plan to continue until I can no longer hold a needle or see to run a machine.

Suns and Apples
KATE ROWLAND                              
I pieced the quilt that hooked me on quilting during the summer after I graduated from college, shortly before I immersed myself in the high-tech scientific world of medical school. I spent that summer working at my alma mater. Like many campuses, this one was sleepy in the summer, so I borrowed a how-to-quilt book and started to piece.

I had a job supervising a computer lab. I sat in the lab and sewed, surrounded by 21st century machines. I marked quarter-inch seams in chalk then I stitched and finger-pressed until I had hand pieced and hand quilted a bed quilt.

I was proud of my work but what hooked me were the irony and the history. I quilted in the midst of thousands of dollars’ worth of Suns and Apples and I felt a kinship with women who had quilted amidst the sun and apples. Our styles were different and our tools were different but our outcomes were the same. I was hooked because I realized quilting was a hobby that would make transitions with me. Quilting combines artistry with practicality. Each generation has its own artistic aesthetic and practical demands. Quilting is flexible and adaptable to changing times.

That summer, facing a stressful academic challenge, a budding relationship and a move to a new city, I needed the security of a something I could turn to when I needed to transition. Quilts provide warmth, familiarity and security. The act of making them provides the same. I am hooked. Until the day I do not need warmth and security, I’ll keep stitching.

It Started in June
One small pillow covered with panda fabric, maybe a quilt to match. And then I looked at three little faces…That is how I got hooked on quilting.

June, 2010    Find quilting book that says "Make a baby quilt in ninety minutes."  Great, I think. Can make quilts for daughter’s triplets in one day. Birthday is January. Sounds easy! Note: Did I mention I’ve never quilted before?

July, August, September, 2010    Frantic fabric searching leads to five frog fabrics, a myriad of monkey fabrics, and picturesque panda fabric. I begin cutting six inch fabric squares using new cutting matt, new quilting ruler, new rotary cutter. Note: Only two Band-Aids necessary.

October, 2010    Run out of panda material. Find some on internet and buy six yards. Next day find six more yards at quilt shop. Buy it too. Note: Too much fabric?

December, 2010    Sewing machine quits. Christmas arrives. Santa Claus brings me a new machine! Piece by piece baby quilt tops come together during Christmas/New Year’s holiday. Note: Cold food is healthy.

January, 2011    Finish piecing. Try to put quilts together. Quilt top, batting, backing. Pin, pin, oops! Start over. Pin, pin, oops! Start over. Frantic calls to quilt shops. Find a quilter who says, “I’ll help you!” She puts quilts together in one day. Note: How did she do that?

January 17, 2011    Birthday Day! Triplets unwrap the quilts, pose for photos and then play with new toys. (Sad sigh from me…).Two days later get email from their dad. “They love the quilts. Carry them around during the day, sleep with them at night. They’re great!" Note: Yeah!!

January 18, 2011    I did it. I made three baby quilts! Now I wonder how many quilt blocks I need to make three twin bed quilts? Hmmm…

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