Sunday, January 6, 2019

Celebrating 20 Years And More

This month, I celebrate 20 years of quilting.  Wow, what a milestone!  All those years ago, when I made my very first quilt, did I have any idea of how this first step would impact my future?  Not a clue LOL.  Ever since then, quilting has become a bigger and more important part of my life and has led to opportunities I never dreamed of having.

I have been musing everything that brought me to this point, all of the things I've done in the past that made today possible.  I'd like to share a bit about how I got to be where I am now.

Truthfully, it all started when I was a kid in elementary school.  I loved to read the Little House on the Prairie series of books.  I'd read through them all, then go back to the beginning and start again.  I was fascinated with the description of how the women would sew everything by hand, making sure their stitches were small and consistent.  I wanted to see if I could do that too.

So, I played with needle and thread, and some of my mom's scraps.  I also learned in Girl Scouts how to make camping supplies out of wash cloths sewn together.  (Anyone remember "dunk bags"?)  And over time, I succeeded in making my stitches small and even.  I made some bags in which I could carry things.  In fact, I still have two of them!

Yes, they are simple drawstring bags.  And yes, they need a good trip through the washing machine LOL.  But looking inside one of them, you can see just how my hand sewing skills had grown.

I had forgotten about all those features.  Blanket stitch on the bottom to stop fraying!  French seam along the side!  All the raw edges folded inside the drawstring housing.  And those teeny stitches holding it all in place.  No wonder it hasn't fallen apart yet.

(On a side note, I also loved reading about how the Ingalls family got their first treadle sewing machine.  It is still a bucket list item for me to learn how to sew on one.)

I also remember a very important lesson learned by simple trial and error.  I wanted to make a dress-up skirt for myself.  With my mom's blessing, I used an old sheet and her Kenmore sewing machine.  I measured my waist, and cut the waistband that size.  I measured how long I wanted the skirt to be, and cut the pieces that size.  Then I sewed everything together... and it was too small!  I forgot to add in a seam allowance.  Obviously that lesson has stuck with me after all these years.

All those early lessons, those early failures, helped me to grow and gave me a starting point on my quilting journey.  Did I still have a lot to learn?  Heck yeah!  I had to learn about a scant quarter inch seam allowance to ensure everything turned out the right size.  I had to learn about color play, pattern designing, tips and tricks on working with bias edges, and so forth.

So, what does it look like when a quilter celebrates 20 years of quilting?  My quilts went from this (my first quilt ever made, finished on January 15, 1999):

To quilts like these (finished within the last few years):

One of two quilts made for a contest for Capitol Records.
This is a recreation of an album cover by The Decemberists.

Made for a client to match her bedroom decor.

12 years ago I decided to start a quilting business.  I offer quilting services to other quilters who make tops but can't (or don't want to) do the quilting themselves.  I also make quilts to order.  And let me say, some of those client quilts made me grow as a quilter as well.  The ideas people come up with amaze me!

Just recently, all this sewing and quilting expertise has segued into something completely new:  auto upholstery!  With quilting, I knew the materials and the techniques.  It was comfortable, it was safe.  I'm in a whole new world now!  New materials with new properties, new pattern making techniques, new pitfalls, new rewards.  And 3D shapes to be dealt with!  And yet, the one aspect that makes for "high end interiors" - the diamond quilting on the leather - is the easy part.  LOL!

I think I'm off to a good start.

The future is exciting!  Who knows what will develop in the next month, year, decade.  I can't wait to see what is to come.

What about you?  What has your journey (quilting or otherwise) looked like?  What were some of the early lessons you learned that have stuck with you through the years?

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