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That Moment you Fell in Love with Quilting

I remember it very distinctly. 

I was wandering the rows at the International Quilt Festival in Houston my junior year in college. I had made my first quilt a few months prior, on a whim, and my mother thought it would be fun to check out this quilt show that was just a short drive from their house. 

If you've been to the festival, you know the quilt gallery is huge! Aisles and aisles of masterful quilts, organized, more or less, by styles. I've never been good about sticking to a straight path-- I'd walk up a row, spot something pretty a few isles over, head over to that, turn around, walk up the next aisle. All of a sudden, after about 30 minutes of meandering, I spotted a quilt a couple aisles over that I had to see closer. I bee-lined to it and gasped

The vibrant color, the texture, the intricacy-- I had never seen anything like it. 

It was a garden scene with a bench, a stream cutting around the bench and down the quilt, a tree in the background full of leaves, and a fiery, spiraling sun overhead. I didn't know of the technique at the time, but it was all done in raw-edge appliqué. I could not stop looking at it. I got really close, put my hands behind my back so I wouldn't be tempted to touch -- those women in the white gloves walking up and down the aisles looked ready to scold a handsy college student.

I stood in front of this quilt for at least 20 minutes, trying to figure out how the quilter made this, and marveling at the movement and life she was able to create with fabric!

My mother looked at it for a reasonable amount of time, then moved on to look at others. She came back a while later, insisting we really needed to go, they'd be closing down soon, and she wanted to beat the rush out. She had to practically drag me away. 

This was the first time I saw that quilting could be an art form. It could be expressive and evocative. It could be as detailed as a painting, but no painting could ever match a quilt's texture. It went beyond inspiration. My heart was beating quickly, I had a dozen ideas spinning in my head, I could not wait to go buy some more fabric and begin playing.

That quilt changed everything. I had fallen head over heels in love with this craft. 

I wish I could find the picture I took of the quilt, or knew the quilter's name, but I am eternally grateful for that piece of art, because it inspired everything I've done since. 

 

What was it for you? What made you start quilting? What made you come to love this craft? Leave a comment below-- I'd love to hear. 

 

P.S. If you think you might know the quilt I'm talking about, I'd love to try to track down the quilt/quilter to thank him or her. It was around 2006.

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12 comments

  • My first experience quilting did not turn out very well! I was living at college and decided to take a free “Open University” class, taught by volunteers who wanted to share their knowledge. My group was assigned a simple daffodil appliqué pattern, and most of us managed to complete our blocks acceptably. But one girl forgot to add her seam allowance, so the instructor suggested she sew narrow strips onto each side of her blocks. They looked awful! In hindsight, I now know that we could have also cut our blocks down to match hers. After completing the quilt top, we all put our names into a coffee cup, to see who would win the quilt top. I was so glad that I did not win it! That was over 40 years ago, and I still giggle when I remember that all quilts made since then did get better.

    Cindy Dewstow
  • After learning to sew an apron in 8th grade I made clothes for my little sister and myself throughout high school. Fast forward I became a lonely house wife at 25 yrs old while my then-husband was in medical school. A quilt class was offered by a lady who worked in the same building as I. My first quilt was the Ohio Star in remembrance of where I had grown up and missed. I was taught how to quilt by hand – the whole quilt – no sewing machine. I was hooked and created quilts and wall hangings for all my family members whether they wanted one or not. Then I taught reading to elementary students for 28 years before retiring. Since then I have taken up quilting again, but this time all machine stitching and longarm free motion. So much to learn!

    I was invited to hear Shannon speak one Saturday night in Clayton, Missouri, and just completed my first attempt at scrappy applique using a Hobby Lobby unicorn design. Currently I am in my fifth year of sewing baby quilts for the Down Syndrome Assoc. in St. Louis and can’t wait to use this newly learned technique.

    Bonnie
  • I did my first baby quilt by hand as a project for a textile class. My great aunt and great grandmother quilted, so they were the inspiration. Later, my mother and sisters took up quilting and told me I have to do it. I tole them when I find the quilt pattern I want to make, I will. I found one with appliqué hearts and fell in love. It took a while to complete the quilt, and I was hooked. I retired a year ago and have enjoyed quilting since I have more time.

    Virginia

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