Monday, September 19, 2011

You Never Forget Your First Love

My love affair with quilting began 8 years ago.  I was searching for something to do with my hands at night, while being able to both spend time with my husband and recover from my days of chasing around 3 kids under the age of 5.  I thought quilting might fit the bill.  Fortunately, my mother had been quilting for a while and was more than happy to share her expertise and her sizeable stash.  After searching through several pattern books, I finally decided to make a bow tie wall-hanging.  My mother informed me that with inset seams, the bow tie block was not really for beginners, but I was convinced that I possessed an Amish streak and that I would simply do the entire quilt by hand -- templates, piecing, quilting and all -- problem solved.

I planned to make a small quilt, 4 blocks by 4 blocks, with a simple border.  But, oh, the fabrics.  I had no idea.  I couldn't limit myself to only 16 and, needless to say, 16 blocks soon turned to 64 and I discovered that collecting fabrics for a quilt is half the fun.

The first block
After making templates and cutting out pieces for the 64 blocks, reason prevailed and I began to sew.  The first block took me three nights to piece by hand and I decided that I wasn't Amish after all.  I realized that if I wanted to finish this quilt before my youngest was in college, I would need to pull out my sewing machine.  So I set up shop in the dining room which, alas, prevented me from spending time with my husband, but my priorities were beginning to shift. 

I worked every night on those 64 blocks.  I got the hang of the inset seams and learned that the iron was actually my friend.  As I generated block after block, laid out the quilt top, and added the borders, I fell in love with the process and a quilter was born. 

When it came time to quilt, I decided to give handwork another try.  And after a few lessons and several missteps, I finally got the hang of it.  My stitches weren't very small and I was extremely slow, but my husband was happy to see me on the couch again and I began to enjoy the rhythm of hand-quilting.  Several months later, yes, months, I finished the quilt and I LOVED IT!  I loved the pattern, the fabrics, the quilting.  I loved knowing that I had taken a few scraps and made this gorgeous creation.  I loved knowing that I could do it again and that the possibilities were endless.  I was hooked.

My first quilt
I've gone on to create many more quilts, but that first quilt is still special to me.  Even though my tastes and skills have evolved and I've moved three times since I made it, my bow tie quilt still graces the wall of my home today.  You never forget your first love.