Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why I started quilting.

When I was growing up, my paternal grandmother was a crafter but mostly a quilter. She had a huge room in their home dedicated to crafts. She did all kinds of crafts, bead work, knitting, crochet, dolls, stuffed animals, paper crafts, punch needle, latch hook, jewelery making, and so many more. Even today my Christmas tree is decorated in ornaments she made, my daughter's play with some of the stuffed animals she made me when I was a little girl. I still sleep under the afghan she made me, although too short for me now it is still my favorite blanket.

My fondest memories as a child are of my grandmother piecing blocks for another quilt, watching Wheel Of Fortune and me sitting under her feet picking up pins out of the carpet. It was the only way she'd let me in her sewing room and I was so honored to be in there with her, "helping" and wishing I could touch each and every bolt of fabric she had on the shelves. She had a hand quilting frame in the center of the room, next to her cutting table and as she was hand quilting, I'd get to sit under the frame in my "fort" and pick up the pins she dropped. Around the fall the ladies of the community would get together and make crafts for the local craft fairs. I always got to acompany my grandmother and hand her supplies as she was working. I loved going to those get togethers, all the ladies visiting with each other and my favorite part, all the baked goods they brought!

I always wanted my grandmother to teach me to quilt, my mother thought I was too young to learn and said that I'd learn in Home Ec class so my grandmother never got to teach me. Sadly she had ended up having 4 strokes. The first one wasn't bad and she was able to resume most of her regular activities after a couple of weeks, the second one made her give up all her crafts except quilting, but she had a hard time using her hands, the third stroke left her bed ridden and her all her crafts stayed un touched in that one room. The fourth stroke ended her life, I was 14 years old and had just started sewing in Home Ec class at school.

I made two pillows that year a shark and a cupcake, but that was the last of my sewing for years. The next time I picked up a needle I was 25 and 7 months pregnant with my first daughter, Megan. My husband and I had gone out to various craft shows looking for a baby quilt for our unborn daughter. I had something very specific in mind and I couldn't find what I wanted. My husband suggested that I make one myself. I was very hesitant to try quilting myself, I had in my head all my grandmother's quilts and how perfect they all seemed, I couldn't make anything like she made.

Late one night, I was awake with bad heartburn and I decided to look on for a quilt top, or a finished quilt. I stumbled upon "quilt kits" and discovered that these where precut fabric and a pattern to assemble your own quilt top. I found one that I just adored, it was a very beautiful pastel rainbow colored quilt kit using all Moda fabrics. At the time I had no idea who Moda was didn't know what a deal I was getting. I bought the kit and waited for it to arrive.

But I had a problem, I had no sewing machine! Christmas and my Birthday are 5 days apart and coming very soon. Usually I don't mind that everyone forgets my birthday, it is so close to Christmas that people just forget and that has been happening since I was very little. This year I was determined to get something for my birthday, a sweing machine. I thought if I made the offer to have both presents combined into one gift I could convince my husband that spending $100 or so on a machine wasn't too expensive. He agreed and went to find out what he could on sewing machines. He enlisted his mom's help and she ended up taking over the project, I am very thankful for that!

She went to a local quilt store in town, it was right next to her favorite coffee shop and asked them what kind of machine would be good. They were Janome dealers and I ended up with a Janome DC3050 as my very first sewing machine. I was hooked! What a lovely machine, a little intimidating at first, but Tina, the Janome dealer and quilt shop owner showed me how to use it and clean it and I couldn't have been happier. I have been using my Janome ever since, I bought another Janome Mini as a backup when I take my machine into be serviced and my oldest daughter is getting a Janome Magnolia 7312 for her first machine for Christmas this year.

Ever since I made that first quilt I have been hooked on quilting. I made my first 3 quilts from kits I bought off eBay and then I finally got the courage to cut my own fabric. I am mostly a self taught quilter with the exception of picking up tips and ideas from my quilt group and online forum friends and ofcourse books.

That is why I started quilting. Why then did I start my quilt shop? It was kind of a natural progression for me. I was a stay at home mom and was looking for ways to suppliment our familiy's income. I sold handmade candles for awhile, taught and still teach BabySigns, and I tried Melaluca for awhile too. Quilting just seems to fit better. I enjoy it, I don't mind getting 3 hours of sleep some nights if I have to work late and get up early with the girls (that's what Startbucks is for) and I truely love the different challenges that come from making custom quilts and sharing my love for quilting with anyone I can!

When my family moves to Colorado I might consider opening a physical location once both girls are in school full time but I will for sure get a Long Arm machine and offer that service as well. I am even trying my hand at designing a quilt. The possibilites are endless for a quilter.

I'd like to know why YOU started quilting? Post a comment here or email me at

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I your story made me cry a little. I love you have such wonderful memories of your grandmother and sorry you weren't able to learn from her but I have no doubt she's with you in every stitch! My start is more simple. My friend was having a baby and I really wanted to give something personal. I used a fleece backing, chenille, cotton and cotton flannel on the front. I enjoyed creating it from its conception until I received the phone call in the 8th month of my friend's pregnancy that she lost her baby. She didn't know I was making the blanket and I pondered not telling her or not finish it for about a week. I was so sad for her and didn't want to rub salt in the wound but then realized, this was made for Isabella out of love and as her mother, she had the right to do what she wanted with it. Donate, save, never receive, etc. So I bound it and about 3 months after the loss, when I was talking with my friend (we live far away from one another) I told her about Isabella's quilt. I explained my hesitancy and that ultimately, I wanted her to know Bella was loved, even though we didn't get to meet. She asked me to hold it a while and I did. We got together about 6mo. after that. She didn't ask me to bring the quilt but I did just in case. I told her I had it and asked if she'd like to see it. We had a good cry and she kept it.

    From there, I started making other baby quilts, just enjoying the creativity and sewing. Knowing that I, a normally pretty unemotional and unemotive person, was giving a piece of my heart to each who received a quilt. I make them to be used. Well-used. I might one day, after more years of practice, offer my quilting skills as a business but for now, it's great fun and as everyone I know says, "who knew I had a creative side?!" lol