Sunday, December 23, 2007

My first quilt

I know I've not told the story of my first quilt because I haven't had a picture of it up until now. I still don't really have much of a picture, but enough to tell the story.

We moved to Vancouver and into this house in July 1974 when Rebecca was 12 days old. It wasn't long at all before I decided to make my first quilt. It was almost impossible to find 100% cotton fabric at that time, but the Mill End Store in Milwaukee, Oregon did have a small selection. I spent hours pouring over the two quilt books I had - pretty much all that was available at that time. I finally decided on a triple Irish chain in red, green and white. I bought enough of the red to make pinch pleated curtains for the bedroom windows and enough of the green for a gathered curtain for the bathroom. I made a template of a 1 1/2" square from cardboard and sandpaper, and proceeded to draw around it several thousand times. The pattern called for four green squares to be appliqued to the corners of the large white square to make the alternate block. This quilt was to serve as our bedspread.

Well - with a new baby I found I had little time to work on the quilt. I was making all our clothes, raising a garden, canning and freezing all our vegetables and fruit, and baking all our bread. I worked on the quilt when I could, but it took a LONG time to cut out and then piece. Remember, I was cutting out every square with scissors! Finally the top was done - probably 3-4 years after I started it. The curtains had been on the windows for years - I made them first - and we already significantly faded. I bought a large white sheet for the back and some batting. I don't remember how I basted it together - I just know that I did. Then I started the hand quilting - learning the best I could from one of the books. Of course that sheet was VERY hard ti stitch through, as were all the seams. I quilted a straight line grid in 5 of the plain white squares and called it quits. I rolled it up and shoved it into the attic and forgot about it.

About 10 years later I dug it back out and decided to finish it. By that time I was doing lots of holiday bazaars, selling dolls, teddy bears, Christmas items and other things that I'd sewn. I needed something to cover the table and the quilt was perfect. So I bought some white yarn and tied the rest of it together. Again, I didn't really know what I was doing, but I did my best. I bound it and used it as my bazaar table cover for the next five years. It was perfect colors - red and green and white - and looked just fine since most of it was covered with things to sell.

After 5 years I went back to work and stopped doing bazaars, and was going to put the quilt back in the attic. However, I got a brainstorm just as I was putting it away. How about using it for a tree skirt? Once again it would be covered with things to hide it's ugliness. So I ruthlessly cut a slit from the middle of one side to the center of the quilt, and zig zagged the edges shut. It served as our tree skirt for the next 10 years or more. When Rick and Rebecca put up their first tree I passed it along to them, and now it can be seen at the base of their tree every year.

You can't see much of it in the picture, but enough of it so you can tell more or less what it looks like. Before they put it away this year I'll try to get a picture of it spread out in all it's lumpy, bumpy, uneven ugliness. It never did serve as our bed spread, but it makes a great Christmas tree skirt!

4 comments:

Norma said...

I loved the story of your first quilt! This just proves that old quilts never die, they just get re-purposed!

Pam said...

Great story!!! That is so amazing how the old quilt just keeps on and on and on!! It is so great that is still has a use - and a very admirable use at that!

Merry Christmas Patti!!

julieQ said...

Wonderful story, and sounds like something I would do...I am so glad it is finding new life under another tree as well!!

Erin said...

I love it! thanks for sharing such a wonderful story! The tree skirt is very nice!