Sunday, 4 March 2012

My First Quilt

Hearts Alive

My very first quilt was a nine patch heart wallhanging.  I started it in October 1991 and finished it in July 1992.  It started out as an exercise in what to do and what not to do.  At that stage, I hd never heard of rotary cutters and strip piecing so I cut each and every square one by one.  I had no idea how the finished quilt should look and piecing the nine patch squares by hand took ages.  
Just as I got going, I had to stop everything and pack up to move from our tiny flat to our new home.  The house was in a terrible state when we moved in and only had ONE cupboard!  It took me forever and a day to find my squares amongst the boxes and renovations.  By the time I did, I had joined Cottage Patch Quilters Guild and become a little more “educated”.  I also found a book in their library called Precious Litte Things.  Now I knew exactly what I wanted my little quilt to look last my quilt had direction and a life ahead of it!  I also made the decision to finish it by hand, as an exercise and also to stop me from falling asleep in front of the tv at night.  To my surprise, I discovered that I enjoyed hand piecing far more than machine piecing.  All nine patched and plain calico sqaures were joined by hand, including the border strips. 

At last I was reading for batting and backing...what excitement!  One Friday afternoon, I laid it out on the lounge floor and assembled it using big safety pins every 6 inches.  I was ready for quilting.  Because this was my first quilt, I decided to practice my quilting stitch first.  That was the first disaster!   Try as I might, I COULD NOT rock my hand.  My wrist had a mind of its own and just would not listen to me.  I was so disappointed, my quilting career was down the drain before it had even started.  Feeling disheartened, I went back to my books and magazines to try and work out where I was going wrong.  It was there that I discovered someone else with a wayward wrist who introduced me to the pleasures of stab stitching!  Catastrophy averted, we were back on track!! 
By bed time, I’d completed a whole row and, to my untrained eye, it was the best row of quilting ever.  Lovingly, I laid my quilt out on a chair to be admired first thing the next morning when I went through to the lounge.    Early the next morning, I snuck through to let the dogs out and to catch a glimpse of my quilt.  It looked just as good by daylight and I couldn’t wait to get started again.  Becasue it was Saturday, I decided to crawl back to bed for a bit first so I left the back doo open for the dogs and off I went.  That was disaster number two struck!!!!

About an hour after I crawled back into bed, my son came running through to tell that the dogs had chewed my quilt!  My beautiful, wonderful quilt!  I was ready to kill!!  The little !@#$* had decided that batting was the perfect toy and ripped half of it out.  They also damaged one whole corner of the wide border strip.  And, to top it all off, my poor quilt was covered with muddy paw prints.  I was heartbroken and that’s when I realised that what had started out as an exercise with a “learn by your mistakes” attitude had become very, very important.  I very badly wanted it to turn out to be beautiful.  For a week or so, I didn’t have the heart to even look at it.  The dogs knew they were in trouble and their lives were hanging by a thread.  Eventually, one morning I left it to soak, hoping against hope.  Turns out that the washing powder adverts’ claim was true, my quilt looked almost as good as new!  Fortunately I’d put a very wide border strip around it.  So after I trimmed it down, removed the quilting stitches and replaced the backing and batting, I was back in business!  Oh, I also made peace with the dogs;)

After that it was plain sailing.  Thank goodness because I am not sure I could’ve handled more drama!  I had completed my first quilt, mastered my funny quilting stitch (without a quilting needle) and found that I had loved every minute of it!  I felt a tremendous sense of of achievement and a horrible sense of lose.  My baby was finished but I was also showing symptoms of my first case of “empty hand” syndrome.  There was only one solution...start another one QUICKLY!  I guess that means I am hooked - Bears Paw here I come!  When I look at my first quilt now, I see some glaring doesn’t even hang flat on the one side.  But I will never, ever part with it because I love it and it symbolises a step in my personal growth; that something I had admired from afar for so many years was actually in my capacity to achieve.  I called it Hearts Alive because I felt so excited about it while I was sewing and I knew that in years to come, it would become my therapy.  Something that I love with all my heart.
The end.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Penny for the very first entry! I loved your story!


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