Thursday, October 1, 2015

My First Hand Quilted Quilt

Well, this was going to be a quick post. But it ended up taking a LOT of research to figure out just when I made my first hand quilted quilt. I started a diary in 1980 (the year I was pregnant with my daughter), and I kept it up fairly well until about mid-1984, when my son was about a year old. I'm glad I did because those were definitely years of pregnancy brain, new mama brain, and mother of toddler and preschooler brain, and if I didn't have those diaries, I would have only a fuzzy memory of my life at that time. Actually, I should have kept up a diary longer because I have since discovered that there is also working mother brain, mother of teenagers brain, pre-menopausal brain, menopausal brain, and now retiree brain. Did I leave any out? Or maybe it's just me?



Anyway, I knew that this was my first hand quilted quilt, but I had no recollection of just when I made it (my quilt labeling has been sporadic at best), so today I got lost in a previous life, reading through those old diaries. It turns out that in the early 1980s, I was heavily into counted cross stitch, and although I was making baby quilts, there wasn't as much quilting going on as I thought. Maybe it was because I could pick up the little cross stitch projects and work on them here and there instead of hauling out my sewing stuff. But after diligent reading (and finding out that I sure vented a lot about lack of sleep) I found the start date for this quilt: November 6, 1981. I started the quilting on November 19 and ended on January 25, 1982, adding tabs for hanging on January 27. I do remember that I wanted to do a simple design so that I could really concentrate on practicing the quilting.  


The quilt is about 30 inches square. I used stencils for the quilted feather circle, irises and cable in the inner border. I used either a chalk pencil or a white lead pencil to mark the quilt lines, and in some light they still show up on the rust colored fabric. According to my notes in my diary, I used a leather thimble. Haven't used one of those in years! The batting is polyester and the quilting thread is cotton, off-white in the muslin areas and rust colored on the green and rust fabrics. The binding is the backing turned over to the front. I did my first miters on this quilt, and I'm pretty proud of how they turned out. I must have been in a hurry when I made the hanging tabs because they are sewn with white thread. 

This quilt was the perfect size and design to practice hand quilting. I used a 14 1/2 inch hoop that I still use today. The hardware on it has worn out but I hold it together with rubber bands. I've tried other hoops since then, but they don't have the wonderful patina that it has from years of holding it in my hands. I learned to hand quilt from a book called Fine Hand Quilting by Diana Leone. (I still have it.) At some point, I also took a one-day workshop with Pepper Cory where I learned to quilt with found objects for making designs, but I don't remember when that was. 

I must have really caught the quilting bug that January long ago, because the day after I finished my first quilt, I started quilting a large double wedding ring top that a relative of my sister-in-law had made from a kit. Wow! Ignorance about what quilting the size of that project would be like was probably a good thing. That same week I started making a Block-of-the Month quilt project from a 1982 calendar. How to I know? My wonderful brain diary told me so. 

And you know what else? I still have this quilt hanging in my upstairs hallway each fall. The green has faded a bit (but evenly) over time, but I still like it--if only as a reminder how long I have loved quilting. 

I'm linking up with Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge for Throwback Thursday. The button is to the right. I hope you're having fun going down Memory Lane with your quilting this week, too. 

8 comments:

Linda said...

What beautiful hand quilting! You sure did catch the quilting bug.

Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl said...

How wonderful that you had the diary to read through to get information on the quilt. I think blogs are doing that a bit for quilts now, but I do think I should journal more... The quilting looks great, and was cross stitch the influence for the crosshatch in the background of the quilt, too?

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

Such lovely hand work! I'm (semi) ashamed to say that I've never hand quilted anything. Thank goodness for that diary so you could track the progress of your quilt. As a new mom, I sort of wish I had started one of those. The best I can manage is a gratitude journal, but it's working for me! Thanks for linking up with Throwback Thursday @ A Quarter Inch from the Edge!

Bernie Kringel said...

I am really enjoying everyone's TBT posts. This wall quilt is lovely. Janine, I am so envious of your quilting abilities. I need to make something small-ish like this and learn to hand quilt. I know I would enjoy stitching in the evenings when I don't feel like being in the sewing room. Thanks for posting this!!

Lori N said...

What a fantastic quilt! The quilting is wonderful. I have given up hand stitching, but yours is really wonderful.
quiltmusings.wordpress.com

Valerie Reynolds said...

it's not just you....your quilt is the perfect fall accent....esp. with the story/memories behind it. Enjoy having it out this year.

Vera said...

really neat quilting! well done and it's great you still get it out each year.

elle said...

I admire hand quilting. You have done a lovely job.