If this is your first visit, you may want to start off reading the first part of the story here.
Do any of you recognize these objects as items needed for quilting?
- rubber cement glue
- bronze circle disk
- paper template
- scissors for fabric
- scissors for everything but fabric
No? Well, that means you probably are a quilter that was able to benefit right off the bat with things such as the rotary cutter, mat, and ruler. The rotary cutter first appeared in 1979 by OLFA and life as a quilter has continued to get better and better each year. Tools of a trade are very important and can make life much easier, more accurate, and definitely faster.
I began my quilt life without any of the cool tools of the trade, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I think this is because I’m a process person. I love creating and finishing, but the process to me is the most interesting and fascinating part of quilt making.
My first evening of class I arrived early (like over an hour early!). I wanted to be able to look at all the fabric and start thinking about what colors I liked best. I don’t remember ever seeing so many bolts of fabric in the same place before. At least all the same type of fabric, which was 100 percent cotton. I was told beforehand not to buy the fabric before the class because the teacher wanted to help us with the decision-making process.
With pen and paper in hand, I grabbed the best seat in the room and sat there anxiously awaiting the beginning of the class. Slowly, other students began arriving and we got to meet and chat before class started. Everyone hushed up as soon as the teacher arrived and started talking about our class, the assignments, preparations, and fabric. Unfortunately, I cannot remember her name, but she was a wonderful teacher who was patient and kind with all of her newbie quilters.
Our first quilt was called a sampler, which she explained was a quilt that had many different type blocks that were put together using different methods. This way, we would gain experience in all of the various ways of making a block. Some were appliqué, both needle turn and reverse. Piecing was all over the board – straight blocks, curved blocks, set-in blocks, and more. My head was beginning to spin as I feverishly wrote trying to capture everything she said. I had no idea what any of the terms meant but I was confident in my blissful ignorance.
The pattern was handed out on copy paper, and we were instructed that this was just the start to us creating the pattern. It was time for us to take a mini break (read she brought us homemade fudge) and time to do a little tool shopping. We all eagerly followed her throughout the store as we gathered the items she spoke about.
With everything in hand, we gathered back into our seats and began cutting out the paper drawing for the first block. My very first block is called Pine Tree, and has four pieces for the construction: a square, a small triangle, a big triangle and a rectangle cut at the point on one end. We also learned that this first block would have a total of 39 pieces to it once all the fabric was cut out of those four main pattern pieces.
Using our paper scissors, we cut out all four of the individual pieces for the block and then sat waiting for the next step. Next, we are instructed to put the rubber cement on the back side of the paper template we had just cut out and to glue the template to the cardboard. Next we glued the template/cardboard piece to the back side of a piece of sandpaper. Now, as you can imagine this template is now a pretty nice thickness and will not slide around anywhere because of the sandpaper. Now we stack all of our work face down on the table and place blocks on them so they dry absolutely flat.
It’s break time now and while the templates are drying, we are learning about fabric and how much we will need for our quilt. Once we know how much fabric we need, she releases the hounds (that would be all of us newbies) out on our own to roam the store. You’d think we all had been drinking something stronger than iced tea by our giggling, chatting nervously, and generally running about. It’s funny now that I remember because none of the store employees seem to even notice our craziness.
I honed in on an area of the store where the colors were calling my name. Browns and greens really struck me as the colors I wanted to use, but all the time I’m thinking in the back of my mind about my husband. My dear husband, Tracy, is stone cold color blind – browns, greens, blues all look exactly alike to him. BUT, there is one color that he loves and it’s because he sees this shade of color whereas all the others look the same. Have you guessed the color yet? Well, it is yellow. I had to have yellow in the quilt and there had to be a lot of it so he would be able to see it. I decided (all on my own mind you) that yellow would be the primary color of my ‘real’ quilt, and it would be for my honey. I picked out all the fabric, had it cut, paid for it, and proudly went back to the class waiting for the next step. I could hardly sit still because I wanted to start cutting and sewing!
Well if you know anything about color and the olden days of quilt making, you will already be shaking your head because you know that as soon as the teacher saw all that YELLOW fabric, she cringed and proceeded loudly to tell me how yellow was one of ‘those colors’ that should only be used sparingly if at all. I felt like a failure already, and I hadn’t cut a single piece of fabric. All of the other students chose perfect fabrics but me. I’m still a little surprised that I didn’t cave in and do what the teacher recommended – pick another color other than yellow for my main fabric, but the more I looked at that yellow (and it’s such a soft pretty yellow), the more I loved it. All I could think about was Tracy being able to see the shade differences. I dug my heels in and said I wanted to use what I had picked out and the discussion was graciously dropped.
Our templates now dry; we are instructed to cut them out using our paper scissors. This was not an easy chore I’ll tell you, but we all persevered until the first block was all cut out. Now, if you can believe it, I still have all of my original pattern pieces that I made for the PTTD’s quilt. Would you like to see a picture? Okay, it’s not hard to twist my arm, here is the first block — Pine Tree.
We are told the class is over but our work was not because we were to go home and wash and iron all of the fabric we had just purchased. The first law of quilting was that all fabric MUST BE WASHED before using. Oh shoot, I’m not ready to go home yet. We didn’t get to cut any fabric.
The good news is she told us to be prepared because next class we get to cut out our first block and begin sewing. She reminded us that we needed to buy a certain type of sewing needle and that’s when it really clicked in my mind that this quilt would not be sewn together using a sewing machine — I was the sewing machine. Oh no….no sewing machine! There was no way I was going to tell her that I had previously sewn quilts using a sewing machine. Maybe that’s why my quilts didn’t look like the ones on the wall. With much more determination than I started with, I knew this quilt was going to be my treasure because after all – I’m now learning how to do it correctly.
Her last reminder was to bring a clean pillowcase with us to the next class. I didn’t ask why – just scribbled notes and loaded up my first official ‘stash’ into the car as I’m grinning ear-to-ear now because next week I get to cut and sew! Albeit, it will be hand sewing but still it will be sewing and with all quilt store bought 100 percent cotton fabric that I must now go wash and iron. Aargh!
Part 3: Process.