Monday, November 22, 2010

How it all began

With the holidays fast approaching, I've been really busy sewing.  But most of my projects are gifts, so they will have to wait to appear on the blog. In the mean time, I thought I'd ramble on a bit about where I come from and maybe throw in a post of two about what tools I use and any tips that I made have to share.

So, let's begin in the beginning. I've been quilting for 8 years now, but let's go back even further than that. Shall we start in the 1980's? Growing up, our house was always full of creative outlets. My mom is a hobby addict, much like myself. I have many memories of her sewing, painting, crocheting, etc. We had handmade "cabbage patch" dolls, clothes, hand painted Christmas villages, handmade ornaments... She created not just because it was cheaper, but because it was funner. (yes, funner)
My dad had his fair share of hobbies as well. He created pieces of furniture, a jewelry box for my mom, and he even made his own fishing pole! Once he got into fishing he also started tying his own flies. I remember my sister, brother and I huddled around the fly tying table trying to create our own bugs for the weekend fishing events.
We spent a lot of time painting ceramics with my mom, and tying flies with my dad.  But sewing wasn't something my mom shared with us. I can remember asking her to teach me a few times, but by the time the words were out of my mouth I was already distracted by something shiny in the next room. Then I hit high school; my mom was busy working two jobs and my dad was living across the country. Not to mention all of the very important high school-ish things that *I* had going on. So aside from a cheerleading banner or a "happy birthday" sign for a friend's locker, I was on a crafting hiatus.
College didn't prove much different, for me at least. I was busy and living in a cramped dorm. My mom, however, had hit her crafting stride. She married my step dad, quit her second job, and finally had some time to herself again. Then some time around my junior year I started looking for another creative outlet.  I started by doing a little scrapbooking, and senior year I took a stained glass class. I really enjoyed stained glass, but it wasn't exactly a portable project.
Cue graduation.
After living 3 hours from my mom for the last 4 years, I was finally going to live closer to her again! We started spending a lot more time together, and my mom mentioned that she wanted to start quilting. She had taken a class a few years back, but then single mom-dom caused her to start working a second job. I was supportive of my mom's new hobby and even bought her a bunch of quilting supplies that year for Christmas. Meanwhile, I was working on a few stained glass projects. And then the bomb mom had found a pattern for a small sampler quilt, and she wanted me to make one with her. I begrudgingly agreed, and figured that by the time we had these quilts done my mom would be so deep in a quilting coma that she wouldn't even notice me quietly stepping away.
We spent a Saturday morning at JoAnn's picking out fat quarters, and the sight of so many calico prints was making my eyes cross. I was able to find a few bright, fun colored fat quarters. Next we spent hours making templates and cutting our pieces. With scissors. And because we were quilting purists, everything needed to be hand pieced and hand quilted. Oh, did I mention that I didn't own a sewing machine? I think sometime in the middle of this first quilting adventure my mom decided to buy a new machine and gifted me her old one. Or maybe I already had her old-old one? Eh, I can't remember now.
Back to the quilting.  We did eventually both finish. I completed mine first, while my mom stalled out a tiny bit on the quilting and started another project before returning to finish her sampler. No matter, we were both totally and completely engulfed in the quilting world. Well, except for hand piecing and quilting; that we abandoned with the cardboard templates. I mean, who actually does that anymore? (Totally joking, we both have a very deep appreciation for hand work.)
Since that first trip to JoAnn's, we've probably completed over 100 quilts combined. I've also done a lot of bags, accessories, and garments for myself and my family. My mom's projects are just as varied, though her experience certainly outweighs mine.

And that's the story of my creative roots. People often ask me when I started quilting, or assume that it was a tradition that my mom passed on to me. I usually stumble over my words as I try to give a cliff notes version of my story. It's nice to share the details sometimes, too. My mom is a huge inspiration to me and I absolutely love the time we spend together. But I'd be remiss to say that my dad played no part in what I am today. Maybe being a hobby addict is genetic, or maybe it's something that I picked up as a child. Whatever it is, I have both my mom and dad to blame thank.

Just a random interesting bit about my family. I have a sister, brother, and step brother.  Of the 4 of us, I am the only one without an art or design degree! My step brother's degree is in architecture, my sister has  degrees in both art and design, and my brother has degrees in design and horticulture. I like to tell them that my molecular biology degree makes me more well-rounded, though. Ha! ;)

And now, if you're humored me and read all of the way through my ramblings, here are a few pictures of my first quilt.
 A few close ups of the hand quilting. I used a variegated thread for the cables and other "pretty" quilting, and white thread for some stitch in the ditch quilting.
 The back. If you look closely, you'll see a quilted sunburst. That is the quilting that I did in the dresden plate block.
 Up until today, this quilt was living in a plastic tote in the basement (awaiting the move). But writing my story has made me appreciate this quilt more-wonky corners and all. So, I've decided to keep it in my sewing room. And maybe when we move I will have room to put it on the wall in my sewing area.


Lee said...

Thanks for an interesting post! I love hearing about how people discovered quilting. I've been thinking about doing a post like this myself.

Stacey said...

Interesting story. Especially the part about your sister having degrees in art and design. I believe they are actually in advertising and art/design ;) Just had to bust you you!