QC Blog: Inspirations and Quilting Lessons

Friday, August 21, 2009

Inspirations and Quilting Lessons

The other night, while I was watching Top Chef, Masters, they asked the Chefs to create dishes that inspired them to become a chef. So I started mulling that over, and thinking, what inspired me to become a quilter? Browsing through the channels on a commercial I saw it - on some obscure cable channel -- Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel. It all came rushing back to me then. I own her original Lap Quilting book, published in 1982.

The cover is quite tattered and torn now. I used to read and reread it, trying to understand how to make a quilt. I would browse the pages, looking at the diagrams, thinking it was like reading Greek. I didn't know anything about sewing at the time, and had no idea what she was talking about when she referred to grain lines and selvages. Georgia included about 25 pages of "patterns for templates" that completely mystified me. What was I supposed to do with those and why were there all those little marking on the diagrams about 1/4" in from the edge? There was a giant section about "tips at the sewing machine" (which I didn't have) and it shows cutting all these x's on the fabric. I had no clue what was going on. And then there were the dotted designs of stencils - pretty waves, and stars, and interlocking loops. They were pretty, but what was I supposed to do with them? I kept turning the pages and returning to the book over and over.

The thing that kept bringing me back to the book were the photos of the quilts. (Keep in mind, in 1982, Quilt World had black and white photos of quilts in it). I loved the Lemoyne Star quilt at the beginning and the Grandmother's Fan with a ruffled edge. There are multicolored baby quilts and a stunning earth tone log cabin quilt. Then there's a photo of Georgia, sitting on a mountaintop with her Lone Star quilt that is just gorgeous. I don't think I've ever wanted to "Learn" something so badly. I wanted to understand this book. I took a class in sewing first, so I could learn how to use my machine. Gradually, terms like grain lines and selvages made sense to me. 'Seam allowance' accounted for the funny lines on the pages of templates.

Next I took a class in quilting, where I learned how to hand piece a full-size Grandmother's fan quilt. After that I took a second quilting class, where I discovered the techniques of template drawing I had recently learned came in handy. I found it easier to hand piece the project than to try it on the machine (I was still a little afraid of the sewing machine).

My next project, at home, was to make a Dresden plate wall hanging. I was doing fine, until I reached the part where I was supposed to applique around the edges. I couldn't understand how to do that when it was so stiff, you know how something is when you leave the stabilizing freezer paper on the project while you're trying to sew it. My directions hadn't told me how to take the paper out, so it was the loudest, crinkliest wall hanging I've ever made.

When I made that first quilt, the teacher picked out fabrics for us. When I made my second quilt, I took my sons (who were about 6 and 2) to the fabric store with me. Having not much color sense at the time, I asked their opinions. They were so anxious to leave the store, they color coordinated my second Grandmothers fan in about 5 minutes (and did a pretty good job).

Thank you, Georgia Bonesteel, for inspiring me to quilt over 27 years ago. Even though I think I have every book that's out there - I can't let go of this one book - it was the beginning of my love for quilting.

1 comment:

Becky said...

I watched that one too. Thought it was a neat thing to have them do. Never thought about interpreting it into quilting. Not sure what made me start other than the love of color that Moda put together for me.

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