I've been invited to Blog about quilting for ATG. I’ve used LaRueSews as a nickname because I do all kinds of sewing. But maybe sometime it will change or morph into something more "quilty."*
My name is LaRue Jones. (LaRue is spelled with a big "R"). I was born in Idaho. I have been watching and learning to quilt since I was a child. My mother and my aunts made quilts on a homemade frame of skinny boards held together at the corners with C-clamps. The frame was propped on the backs of chairs, as is the custom out west. Many quilters sit at the sides and work their way to the middle. Quilts were put together, layered and attached to the frame with thumb tacks. I have since learned that it’s done other ways, as in the South, the quilt frame is hung from the ceiling and can be raised on pulleys to get the frame out of the way when not in use.
My mother and I made my first quilt shortly after I was married. Being one of the last of many grandchildren, my grandmother was no longer able to make quilts as she had for all the older grandchildren. I guess I felt left out with no wedding quilt. We attacked a simple pattern, the bow-tie, as I remember, and sewed the scrap pieces together in my first little apartment kitchen. My aunts helped us quilt it. The backing fabric was new yardage but we used an old polyester pillow for the batting. Inside, the pillow, the filling was rolled up like a quilt bat. It was cheap, but it worked.
I still have this quilt which been altered, covering the badly worn, pieced top with printed cotton flannel. Rather than hand quilting it again, I tied* the quilt to make it a great quilt to just throw anywhere, use as a padding under a sleeping bag, or just wrap up in. It's really warm!
I made three quilts before my first daughter was born. Two of them were hand applique’, and the other was a "cheater" quilt* top that I machine quilted. I made several more quilts in the coming years. One of them was a challenge to my mother-in-law and her sister to prove that you could indeed make a "handmade" quilt on the sewing machine. It was, however, hand quilted. I began quilting in earnest in the 1990's. I have made many. Some were simple and some more complicated, including my daughter’s wedding quilts (two of them) and one for each of my six grand children. My current project is an intricate applique’ quilt that I have been working at for more than six years. I finally finished the top and began the quilting this past winter. I called it my "1,000 year quilt" when I first started it.
This quilt you see on the right is unfinished. I will finish quilting it and attach a dark blue binding.
Since I'm new to Machine Embroidery, I thought I'd spend a bit of time drawing some parallels between quilters and machine embroiders. Many of our tools are the same or similar. We love beautiful things. We are all givers, i.e. making and giving beautiful things as gifts, and sharing ideas. We all use fabrics. To me, one of the most interesting things is that so many fabric designs are repeated again and again in embroidery designs. While surfing through ME designs, I see motifs that I recognize from fabrics in my own stash or those I’ve seen in quilt shops. That’s really cool to me because I see the beautiful things I’ve always loved, and lots more that are new to me and "I wanna try ‘em out for myself." Surely there are many other things. Last, but definitely not least, we love to share, the things we've made, the things we collect, such as patterns and designs, and ourselves and our friends. One thing I often hear is, "Oh, my Grandma, (Nana, Gram, or aunt) makes quilts. They are so beautiful. Maybe she’ll give me one someday," or "I have some of her quilts and I love them." Embroidered items, made today, are tomorrow’s heirlooms, just as yesterday’s quilts are the heirlooms we cherish today. The two crafts are natural partners.
We Quilters and ME’s love to share the things we've made. How fun it is to go to a place where other "stitchers" gather such as a Quilt Guild, a Quilting Bee, a fabric shop, a sewing group, an MR’s group (what's that called?) or any other place where sewing lovers gather. We love any place where someone else will admire the beautiful things we've created.
What greater joy is there for a Grandmother, than to see a bright-eyed child cuddle up in a hand made quilt or a throw with an embroidered design. How fun for a Mom to see a pretty little girl twirl in the machine-embroidered new dress created by her very own Mommy. Also, I think of a daughter presenting a handmade, personalized photo album to her parents, created in stitchery for their 50th anniversary. I think of the warm glow she feels as she watches them admire the old photos she has secretly reproduced. We all experience similar feelings of warmth and love as we remember these tender moments we experience because of the craft that lays at our fingertips.
I remember when my first Granddaughter (now age 17) proudly proclaimed "My Grandma made it" whenever she was complimented on the new dress she wore. Then, the Flip Flop wall hanging I made for her 13th birthday. My other five grandchildren also love anything that "Grandma made". One of the sweetest moments was giving my newly adopted granddaughter a special little-girl quilt that I made just for her. As I laid with her on the floor, she touched the bright fabrics and said "For ME?" (I cry easily, but that was a topper). It’s great to feel the love that shines in their faces when a gift is presented and later, the feeling returns when they send the hand scrawled "thank you" note.
In further blogs, I'd like to share my thoughts on topics such as fabric selection and preparation, quilting tools, rotary cutting, machine piecing, etc. There's a load of subjects to delve into. Can any of you suggest a subject for me to address? Let me hear from you!
Stitches to you,
Definitions according to LaRue:
"quilty" slang for anything quilt related.
"cheater quilt" is a preprinted quilt pattern that can be quilted or just used as fabric.
"tied quilt" usually a utility or quick quilt that has the layers tied together with yarn or string instead of hand quilting.