Unlike the vast majority of quilters, there was no quilting tradition in my family. There was only one great-grandmother back in Kansas (on my mother’s side) who quilted, but I only saw her occasionally and was never able to sit at her knee and learn from her.
At some point in my childhood, this great-grandmother made each one of us our own quilt. And I remember we treasured them. I didn’t know anything about quilting at the time, and didn’t realize then that despite the many quilts she made during her lifetime, she never varied from the traditional nine-patch quilt. All we knew is that they were cozy and lovely. One of my mom’s cousins would later give me one of the few quilts still left in the family, which I continue to treasure:
When I was 14 or 15, the women’s group at our church (quite probably led by some missionary) decided to make some quilts as part of a charity project. My mom came home with a stack of cut-up squares, set up the sewing machine on a card table in our playroom, and sewed a couple of blocks. I was completely intrigued… so she didn’t even have to twist my arm or blackmail me to get me to sew the rest of the blocks she had committed to make for this project. Unwittingly, I had been initiated in quilting… once again with that traditional nine-patch block!
Fast forward several years… By the late seventies I was a young wife and mother, going to school and living in California. I still didn’t know much about quilting, but after seeing a friendship quilt in some woman’s magazine, I was inspired to coordinate several similar projects with other families in our community: for the birth of a child or a wedding gift, and more often than not as a farewell gift for a family moving away.
Living in the Sacramento area, I finally had the chance to see other quilts first-hand, both in Old Town Sacramento and in Old Auburn (the county seat from where we lived). I really, really wanted to make an entire quilt myself. And so I did. At that point, I still don’t think I was aware that there were other designs out there other than the nine-patch! And, believe it or not, I actually machine quilted it… without a walking foot! And yes, there was some minor puckering on the back. But my choice of fabrics must have been pleasing because, quite amazingly, I sold this quilt to a store in Old Auburn for $300!!! I still seriously wonder if the owner hadn’t been drinking heavily that day… What was she thinking?
(To be continued tomorrow 🙂 )