This morning over coffee as I am trying to wake up, and sliding my way through some Facebook posts, an old picture pops up and made me smile. It's an old Singer sewing machine that my only sister has now... Well, she isn't my sister through blood, but by all other definition, she is absolutely my sister. She got some old sewing machines that her father had collected and she couldn't wait to show me. She knew I would see their beauty and it would give us the opportunity to talk about some of the silly things we did growing up. We grew up two dirty little farm girls in Southern IL, running through creeks beds, drinking milk fresh from the cow, riding horses all day long, and mud puddles! Lots of mud puddles! We didn't have much technology and we had even fewer neighbors, so we were alone a lot. We didn't grow up with Grandmothers quilting and sewing, and I really don't know what the history behind this machine is, but I sure do love to wonder. That's the thing about history, especially quilt history, it fascinates me to think about all the reasons that woman would quilt many years ago. I'm sure the first reason was for warmth, because you didn't just run to Bed Bath & Beyond and buy bedding, you had to make the things you needed. The fabric was scrounged up and saved, and then woman would spent time together repurposing them. I like to think of the things they would talk about, and think about while they quilted. Times were hard back then, I can only imagine what troubles they were going through during those stitches. I'm sure there were also times of laughter and fun, times the woman got to take a break from reality and visit. So if you have the privilege of owning a quilt that was made many years ago and passed down to you, you are very lucky! I dont have any. I wish I did.
So, when I first started quilting I made one for everyone in my family. The thing I like most about quilting is what I think about when I make it. I make each one with very specific plans, I take notes in my mind of things people like, and the way they live, as I plan what fabrics I buy and the patterns I create for each one. In fact, I have never made a quilt without a specific person in mind. I find it nearly impossible because I don't have the direction of my thoughts to guide me. I also never used a purchased pattern in my early years of quilting. I would find a technique that spoke to me for that person and I would go with it. Laying it all out on the floor, and cutting, and re-cutting to satisfy my eye. Quilting is an art for me, its my self expression of the person I am making it for.
One of my first quilts was for my only sister, actually it was for her youngest daughter, Peyton. Sis send me the pocket off Daddy's Wrangler jeans and wanted me to make a quilt with it. So I began that quilt with old fabric that she had send me years before, that I had in my stash. Most of the fabric was older and very country looking. Some had cows, and old stripes, and flowers, and I immediately knew I would use them. Many of them were left over from her Mother-In-Law's dress making, they were small pieces left over from dress patterns. These chopped up pieces of fabric would be perfect for a "crazy quilt" block. So I got my scissors ready and started cutting. I liked the crazy quilt block when I started learning to quilt, because there were no rules for cutting, nothing has to be exact. I would just start with a piece for the center, and work my way around it, picking each fabric chunk based on what colors combo I liked.
The backing fabric I used made me think of an old pillow case I had remembered seeing as a young girl. Oooh and this quilt was the first time I actually made traditional binding! I was so proud of myself when this quilt was complete. I used to get so upset with myself over binding, it would piss me off so badly, I would usually end in tears! I had previously made sure the backing fabric was a few inches bigger than the quilt top, so I could just fold it over and sew it on. (much less crying with this technique) Binding was such a huge intimidation for me for so many years, I never could get it just perfect! So I was very proud that I forced myself to go beyond my comfort zone. This was also the only quilt I ever send off to a long arm quilter. It was way out of my budget, so this was the point I began teaching myself free motion quilting on my own home machine.
Every little Cowgirl needs a tooth fairy pillow to match her bedding, right? I made it using Peytons first little pair of baby Wrangler jeans. It will be forever a beautiful memory for my sister to keep those baby memories close to her heart, and hopefully me too, for making it.
Hey Y'all, I'm Gina Tell! I live on Lake Travis just North of Austin Texas. I'm a full time long arm quilter and lover of all this art and outdoors!!