A while back I changed the title of my trunk show from Quilting is a Beautiful and Complicated Art to Finding my Quilterly Groove. Quilting is a beautiful and complicated art there is no doubt in my mind, there never will be. From beginning to end we make decisions from size and shape to color and texture that effect the overall look of the quilt top. While 9 patches seem simple there are a lot of decisions that go into making them from fabric and color choices to the batting, thread and quilting motifs. Decisions! Decisions!
This is going to seem like a leap so just hang with me here. The other day one of the program chairs for a guild I’ll be going to speak at in April requested a bio and description of the class. Seeing that I was teaching at Road she went and picked up my bio and descriptions and put them up on her website. (No problem there I appreciated her effort!) In Finding my Quilterly Groove part of the description is “Bobs Quilt a Six Year Saga”. And it was a six year saga, and the journey with this quilt continues. A way back in 1995 my sweetie and I took a cross-country trip starting in Las Vegas and ending back home. Along the way we stopped to see sights that were just amazing. The painted desert, Grand Canyon and the Arizona Rockies among my faves. There were quilt shops along the way where fabric was purchased in part for this quilt. One decision made it would be a double Irish chain in Amish colors…well, mostly. Being something of a novice getting enough fabric was a challenge so more purchases here and there including a muslin that is meant for photo transfer and not hand quilting (at least in my wrists opinion).
One weekend along the way I got the majority of the cutting done including my left index finger. ‘Nough said. I didn’t do anything more for a couple of months, please tell me you are not at all shocked by this. The top was eventually pieced, a stencil chosen, layered up for quilting and started. Then came the big move, at least the start of it. Knowing we were moving we packed and packed. We lived surrounded by boxes for months. The quilt was put away, not to be stitched again until after we moved his mom, which was several months after we moved.
The quilt was unfurled and the quilting started again in my new quilting hoop/frame. I quilted and quilted, soon realizing that the hoop is too wide for my short arms. I made the best of it and just re-positioned as needed. No big deal. By this time I’d purchased my BERNINA 1080 and started piecing other tops, joined a guild and would quilt when I could. After all, “it’s not a quilt unless it’s hand quilted”, right?! One afternoon I took a look at this quilt and I was done! That’s it, stick a fork in me I’m done. Finished. I went to the dealer and got the latest and greatest in quilting feet.
Let me just say that this is not a quilting success. If I have the quilt in my beginner classes I show them. There is bad tension, pig tails, wildly different sizes of stitching. The speed rule at the time was pedal to the metal and zoom. Then one day the quilting was complete, the binding on and the quilt on our bed.
The saga continues…I made the quilt 80 x 90, thinking it would be the perfect size for our bed. And it is. I soon discovered that while it fits the bed quite well, it does not fit the bed with two adults sleeping under it. Can we say, “fighting for the covers!” Rrrrrg. A new wider/longer quilt was soon made.
While I was at Jake’s home I had the opportunity to have some fascinating conversations with her husband. He’s a character in and of himself. At one point I’m telling him that I now have a really good bar story. He made the point that if I’d gotten from point a to point b and back again it’s a trip. But when something interesting happens like getting stuck because of a major snow storm on the east coast there’s a story to tell. And it’s the story that makes life fascinating. This is a truth worth repeating. The story is essential.
Each quilt we make has a story. From choosing the pattern and fabrics to batting and thread. Along the way interesting things might happen like the rotary cutter incident and the quilts where I stitched my finger and not bleeding on the quilt. Sometimes the story is for us, sometimes the story is for others. But the quilt tells the story. Our quilts tell our story, our quilting journey. We can see our improvement, our heart aches, our joys, our losses and our wins. We can see when we have persevered through some serious struggle to get our quilts finished on time. These moments give our quilts much more depth and meaning.
I choose to tell the stories of my quilts for a variety of reasons. Those matter precious little what matters is the telling and taking ownership of my quilts. Signing and dating them are essential. One of the reasons I blog is telling the story, my story, my quilting journey. When I look at my quilts the memories come flooding forward, reminding me, whispering sweet nothings.
What’s your quilting story?