A story with a happy ending can't be told too often

Last night, I typed an email response to a new reader about how I started quilting. I tell this story on my blog about twice a year, and I never tire of telling it and hope you guys don't tire of hearing it. Seems that each time I tell it, I focus on something different and I think the last time, I focused on being a man in the fabric stores in the late 90's and how uncomfortable I was. This time, it seems to be more about finding the joys of quilting.

Anyway, I was so impressed with how the email turned out that I decided to post most of it here as well. Hope you enjoy.

Hi, Mary. So nice to hear from you. I am indeed a male quilter. And, I like to think of myself as a friend of Bonnie Hunter, even though we've never met. And, I LOVE antique quilts. I have quite the collection of family pieces that I've inherited and a couple of great antiques have made their way to me.

I bought my first sewing machine in 1982-83ish. I made curtains and bedspreads and upholstered furniture. I dabbled in clothes, but they never looked right, so I didn't do much there.

I started quilting in 1999. I cut out my first quilt about 6 years before that. A friend shared a stash and a pattern book from supplies that he had been gifted in exchange for me teaching him to use a sewing machine. I decided on a log cabin and cut many strips while I had access to his rotary cutter. I didn't understand seam allowance and didn't add it before cutting and it wasn't in the pattern. I put that project of too narrow strips aside.

But, in 1999, a close friend had just passed away. I had provided care near the end and needed something to do with my time while I transitioned back to 'normal'. I bought new fabric and a rotary cutter of my own. But, I had lost the pattern book. Undaunted, I made a log cabin that is really not like a log cabin at all. The blocks don't have contrasting corners; they get darker from the center strip out and have sashing between them. I hand quilted this queen sized quilt and we still sleep under it. It has a polyester batting and is the warmest quilt I've made. I didn't know how to bind, and my family quilts have the backing folded over the front and sewn down, so that's what I did. But, I love it still.

I machine pieced and hand quilted three more quilts in the early part of the last decade and I tried to machine quilt, but even with a walking foot, I wasn't very good at it. I learned all I could from watching Alex Anderson on TV, but I never thought to look for anything about quilting on the internet and I was way too shy to take any classes at a quilt shop, if I had been able to find a quilt shop. I only new JoAnn's to shop. Maybe Hobby Lobby or another chain.

Then, in 2007, I met a quilter. She works with my partner. First thing she did was sell me a machine. It was her Mother's Bernina and I've cared for it and named it after the original owner. It is quiet as the grave and very heavy and stable and makes a perfect stitch and has a knee lift. I quilt everything on it. I have no idea how many quilts Evelyn and I have quilted together, but it's at least 100 wall sized quilts and one or two queen size.

My quilter friend helped me learn to quilt. A few times a year, we'd get together and go through the quilts I'd made since we met last and she'd tell me what was good and what was not so good and she'd encourage me to try new things.

Two years ago, I took my first quilt class and made a quilt I call Apple Pie. I haven't taken another class since. The local shop offers mostly beginner classes and the other shop is "way cross town". I need to take more classes. I need to spend time with more quilters. My friend is great for teaching me things, but I need to be able to "brag" about my work with more people. My blog friends make a great guild, but I still want face to face time.

I've pieced and appliqued. I tried hand applique a few years ago and enjoyed it, but wasn't all that good and it took too long. A couple of years ago, I tried machine applique, but needed to practice a lot and didn't have the time. Each year, I set a goal and this year, I decided to practice machine applique and pulled out a kit I had been gifted and decided on the spur of the moment to hand applique it, so I'll be pulling out other projects to practice my machine applique.

I do go to quilt shows, but they're the small, local shows. We make family days out of them, driving and shopping and eating and seeing the quilts. I haven't been to Houston or any of the other big or out of state shows.

And, that's how all this started. First the quilting, then the blogging, now making clothes. A long and continuous journey that I hope goes on for a long, long time.

I also wanted to throw in a snap of the two quilts I'm hoping to piece this weekend. One of these is going to Linus. The other is staying with us. But, I can't decide which. The one on the right is brighter and more "spring-y". But, the one on the left is richer and deeper in color and contrast.
I think I'll wait to decide until after they are pieced. I'm going to be using everything I've learned from watching Eleanor Burns to make these as simple to piece as possible. The pattern designer has you cut each piece out and sew them together. I'm using all the strip piecing and then cut it apart that I can. Hey, if I'm going to make a quilt a month to donate, I have to take the easy way to it.

Okay, so that's it for today. Take care and have a great Wednesday. Try to sew something today. Lane
P.S. I just opened this. (names have been changed)
Dear Lane, Buck and I want to thank you a million times over for the beautiful sailboat quilt. I cannot believe the details in this quilt, from the planks on the boat to the waves in the sea. Plus, it goes with all of the blues, reds, browns, and creams that we have in the nursery. We love this quilt; it is so special. I know our little boy will grow to adore it just as his big sister adores her daisy quilt. Thank you so much again for the thought and time into putting together such an amazing gift. You are so sweet to have done this. Thank you, Daisy


Anonymous said...

That's the first time that I've read about your journey into quilting. It's so nice to hear back from a person who has received one of your quilts and that realize that there was a lot of time and love put into it. Thanks for sharing your story.

lw said...

I enjoyed your story about getting into quilting. I do wish you lived closer, we've got the Long Beach Show coming up and the Road to California in Ontario every January. I even made it to Santa Clara last year. The big shows usually have the shopping opportunities that you can't find at the local fabric stores-- you can pick up and try tools you only see on the internet.

I love your non-cabin log cabin. The sashing makes it looks fresher and more open.

Cynthia L. said...

Lane, I have never heard your speech before and I really enjoyed it. You certainly have grown in your quilting - you are soooo good.

I have been meaning to thank you for the Sailing, Sailing pattern, but have not been on the computer much. You are so kind to share this pattern.