Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How I Learned to Sew (or, Let’s Talk About Grandmas)

As I’m embarking on this blog I’m starting to think more about how I came to love quilts. I sat down and thought about what gave me the idea to make my first quilt. I think I was still a teenager. The pattern, Irish Chain, was from a book I’d gotten at the mall called Country Weekend Patchwork Quilts. (It should have been called, Quilts That Take Two Years to Finish because I started it in Brooklyn and finished it in grad school in Madison, WI.)

While I’d like to say the rest is history, my quilting/fabric art path didn’t exactly get off to a flying start. I felt like Betsy Ross as I made my first quilt because I did it all by hand. I’d never touched a sewing machine (despite the fact that my grandmother’s Singer sewing machine, in a lovely wooden cabinet, had been living downstairs my entire life.) But, my grandmother had taught me to hand sew. I have a distant memory of her showing me how to stitch on a piece of flannel, and the pincushion that looked like a tomato…and the thimble she wore that swam on my thumb when I tried it on.  (More on my creative Grandma later.)

I finally bought my first sewing machine about 10 years later on a dare (I dared myself) at Walmart. I quickly realized I had no idea how to even *thread* a sewing machine. But, I finally got the hang of it and began making a few small quilts. I had tamed the sewing machine, sort of. The thing is when you put your foot on the gas (pedal) you really never knew what was going to happen or how fast you’d be going. Still, it kept on working and I completed my first chuppah on it…even when I decided to free motion quilt it the weekend I first learned what free motion quilting was. No pressure there!

A few years back I finally purchased a computerized sewing machine, the kind where you put your foot on the gas and generally know what’s coming. (I like a little spontaneity in my life, but not when I’m about to stitch a silk quilt). I decided on an older Husqvarna Viking Designer I sewing/embroidery machine. We’re still getting to know each other.


Post a Comment