Thursday, September 3, 2015

Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition--My First Quilts

Now that it's September, I've decided to get back into my Throwback Thursday posts, where I share quilts that I made in my pre-blogging days. Since I'm linking these up with Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge now (the button's on the right), I thought it would be appropriate to share my very first quilts. I started quilting in 1979 when my sister-in-law introduced me to piecing. Although I had been sewing my own clothing since I was in middle school, I knew next to nothing about making quilts. But I was hooked right away. I had a couple of books to get me started--Ruby Mc Kim's 101 Patchwork Patterns and Quilting and Patchwork by the editors of Sunset Books (now that's a real 70's book for you--could be right in style now). Mostly I just dove in. 

One of my friends was expecting a baby so I decided to make her my first quilt. I found the Monkey Wrench pattern in Ruby Mc Kim's book and made a sketch of my plan:
36 by 48 inches

(I don't know why I drew it reversed.) Back then, we didn't know the gender before a baby was born, so I made it gender neutral in colors sure to keep a baby awake!! 

Here's how it turned out:

The picture's pretty poor in quality. This was from the days when you took one or two shots (because film and developing were expensive) and hoped the picture would turn out as you waited several days to get it back from the developer. Anyway, the yellow's about right; the green was a little brighter (YIKES). These were calicoes.The green had little starburst yellow flowers and the yellow had red, blue and green flowers. I might even have some leftover bits in my stash, but I can't get to it right now. I did find a cute coordinating stripe for the back. My piecing was pretty precise, but in my lack of knowledge about quilting, I quilted this in a big grid pattern on my Singer Featherweight without any kind of special foot. Oh, the tension issues!!! Pulled fabric, skipped stitches, thread nests. Not to mention the wrestling of the quilt in the tiny space under the arm. It wasn't pretty. But I was so proud of myself! And the binding--I didn't know anything about mitering, but I did do a pretty good job of a two-color binding. I don't even know where I got that idea.  I proudly gave that quilt to my friend and knew I would be making quilts for a very long time. 

I don't have a picture of my next attempt, a quilt for my brother and sister-in law's first baby. (She's going to be 35 in a few weeks). I used this 6-inch block pattern for a 36- by 48-inch quilt:

This time, I did a better job with the colors: a pretty burgundy with tiny blue flowers and a coordinating cream with burgundy and blue flowers. (Yup, still have scraps.) I did the double binding again and the same disastrous quilting. 

And finally, my third quilt. This one was very special because it was a baby quilt for my own daughter. Here's my quilt plan:
36 by 48 inches

I decided to branch out and use several fabrics for this one (I even used flannel for the beige fabric and back), but knew nothing about contrast or value, so it didn't turn out quite the way I envisioned it. 

I used the same binding technique:

and had the same tension issues:

But here's the thing: This quilt has been used and loved until it is just the softest thing. In fact, I wrap it around some foam for an impromptu changing pad (so soft!) when the grandkids come. No one cares that the colors lack contrast and the quilting stitches are wonky. It's just a quilt full of memories--and making more. (No, my daughter doesn't have it at her house. She has lots of my other quilts.)

I knew my quilting was a problem, so after these three quilts, I learned how to quilt by hand. I'll share those first quilts another time. 

Thanks for listening to me reminisce. (I can't believe I still have those scraps of paper with the plans.)

If you'd like to see some other quilts from my pre-blogging days, click on "throwback thursday" under "labels" at the end of this post.


Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl said...

In my throwback for today I struggled with all the same things you did in my early quilts - tension problems from not knowing about quilting on a domestic machine and un-mitered binding corners! And yet, the quilts get used, loved, snuggled, and the quilting police have yet to knock on the door. :)

Jayne said...

The things we have learned! I love seeing these throwback thursday quilts! I'm so glad I didn't start quilting until digital cameras were invented! Oh how I remember the film cameras!

the zen quilter said...

Wow that Monkey Wrench might have scared me on my first try! How sweet that you still have your daughter's baby quilt and still use it. I love that. I actually have my own father's baby quilt - it's 80 years old now! It's pretty faded but so dear to me. I've saved my son's, too and I was going to give it to him for his kids (when he's much, much older, he's only 18 now) but maybe I will just keep it and use it when they come over - I like that idea. Thanks for reminiscing with us!

Heidi said...

I still love the Monkey Wrench blocks, and yes, even calico's! It is really fun to look back at old makes, what a fun post:-)

Lara B. said...

Janine, it is fun to see how you started out, how well you did (!) and what the speed bumps were that you hit along the way! It's amazing you kept the pencil sketches of your designs.
It's really comforting too to realize that our goofs really don't matter in the long run.

Jenn @ A Quarter Inch from the Edge said...

Isn't it amazing the journey one takes in their skills and design choices? I can't believe you took on such a complicated pattern for your first quilt. Thanks for linking up with Throwback Thursday!

Tish Stemple said...

I love reading these posts. I remember being frustrated with all of the same issues and now you realize you aren't alone. Everyone experiences it. I love your little white and blue quilt and you can tell it's been well loved. Those are the absolute best kind of quilts, aged and softened from use. Thanks for sharing your post.

Kaja said...

I love seeing people's early quilts - it's so interesting tracing someone's progression. Isn't it nice that no one else is as critical as we are of ourselves and things get used and loved regardless?