My quilting story

Recently, I joined a Yahoo! group for people who own the Brother DreamWeaver sewing/embroidery machine. I don’t currently own this machine, but in March, I plan to buy the DreamCreator, which is one step down from the DreamWeaver. I was asked to provide a bit of background on myself there, and it started me to thinking about how I got into quilting. I thought I’d share the story here, because I don’t know if I’ve ever really told it before. But stop me if you’ve heard this one before …

In September 1999, I celebrated my eighth wedding anniversary with my husband. Things weren’t perfect between us; we’d had our problems, but ever the optimistic wife, I was certain things would continue to get better between us. We had two young children, a daughter who was six at the time, and a son who’d just turned five the previous month. My husband held my hand, looked into my eyes that night and said, “I’m glad we’ve stuck it out because I think things will finally start to turn around for us. I love you.” Two weeks later, he had moved out of the house, confessing to an affair, and I was left scared and alone with two small kids and a temporary job that didn’t nearly cover all the bills. Two weeks after that, I started a new job making considerably more money and he came back (coincidence? Maybe … or maybe not). At any rate, by the end of January 2000, it was over for good, and I was quickly turning into a workaholic as a way to keep myself from thinking about everything. I would go to work at 6 am after dropping the kids at daycare, pick them up around 5:30-ish, go home, make dinner, spend time with them doing homework and baths and a little tv before their bedtime at 8 pm, then work from the time the kids went to bed until midnight, when I’d go to bed myself. A few months later, the kids and I moved from that house to a townhouse closer to my parents, and in the fall of 2001, right after the World Trade Center buildings fell, I attended my first International Quilt Festival with my mom and a friend of hers. (After this point, I’m a little fuzzy on the timeline. I can’t recall if I made my first quilt using the MW machine mentioned below, or my Brother machine – in fact, I can’t recall exactly when I bought the Brother; it was either 2002 or 2003, but I can’t recall exactly. I want to say 2002 but I don’t have any photos to back that up. I have a photo of my first quilt that I’ve filed in 2003 photos, but the digital image doesn’t have a date attached, so it could have been a year earlier; I’m just not sure. I’d ask my mom but … HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I love her but memory is not her strong suit.)

I’d never made a quilt, or even had a lot of interest in sewing, though I thought it would be cool to make a quilt. I don’t remember taking any photos at that first show – I probably didn’t think there was a reason to take photos, and probably didn’t realize that I COULD take photos if I wanted to – but I walked away in awe of the talent and skill that was represented in that convention center. At that point, I had a hand me down Montgomery Ward machine from my mom that I used to repair items and I’d made a couple of pairs of shorts with it, but nothing as big as a quilt. My mom made all my clothing growing up but she’d only made one or two quilts, and I recall that it seemed to be a daunting process. In either 2002 or 2003, I used my work bonus (or maybe it was my tax return) to buy a used Brother PC-8500 sewing/embroidery combination machine. I think I made my first quilt on that machine, but … maybe not. It could have been the Montgomery Ward machine …

What I DO remember, very clearly, is walking into the local quilt shop (LQS) and telling the girl that I wanted to learn how to quilt. She said, “Sure! Let’s get you signed up for a class.” I said, “No, I don’t have time for a class; I just need a book that has clear directions.” She responded with, “But you can’t learn to quilt like that! You really need a class!” After reiterating that I wasn’t taking a class, she finally went to the bookshelves and pulled out Alex Anderson’s learn to quilt book. I chose a pattern and we picked out some fabric, and after paying for my purchases as I was walking out, the girl that had helped me said, “We’ll be waiting to sign you up for classes when you can’t do it on your own!” The following week, I took my completed quilt back to the shop to show that I could indeed learn to quilt without taking a class.

The first quilt I ever made. A nine patch.

The first quilt I ever made. A nine patch.

It’s not exactly a great quilt. It has a couple of places where the material didn’t get caught in the seam, and the squares aren’t consistently sized. But it was DONE and I did it without a class.

From that point on, my house was never the same again. I began collecting fabrics, and making quilts. I don’t even have photos of all the quilts I’ve made, and I lost count many years ago. It’s great therapy for me, and it keeps me from completely losing my mind. Through raising kids, getting married again, stressful jobs and personal situations, quilting has helped me balance everything.

Being in the studio is a great way to spend an afternoon.


Throwback Thursday – Vacation Edition

This is a photo of the kids from our failed camping attempt in Austin back in 2006. We ended up packing up in the middle of the night and coming home because in early June, it was still 98 degrees at 11 pm at night. We couldn’t sleep or do anything really because it was so hot. We just broke camp, packed up and left! Fortunately, we were able to get vacation back on track the next night, but to be honest, we learned a really valuable lesson that summer – don’t camp in Texas in the summer. 😀 Between the heat in Austin and the ridiculous sand coming in the tent at Mustang Island during near gale-force winds near Corpus Christi another night, we realized that camping is best left to the fall and early spring.

Too hot to stay, we packed up at 11 pm and headed back home!

Too hot to stay, we packed up at 11 pm and headed back home!

Throwback Thursday

Today’s throwback photo isn’t a quilt, or a picture of the kids. This one is a photo of an old sewing room I once had when the kids were small. We were living in this horrible apartment complex, though the apartment itself was pretty decent. Four bedroom townhouse with a decent spot for me to sew …



The quilt that’s on the little table under the lamp is the very first quilt I ever made. The one on the wall behind my sewing table … well, it’s still not finished yet, but I’ve been putting some thought into getting it done soon. Both of the tables that support machines have been retired – the one where my sewing machine sits (my favorite machine ever, in the wide world, but now, sadly on it’s last legs) had to be thrown out when it developed a smell I couldn’t get rid of; the other went back to my mom. YOu can see the jacket of a dress I made for my daughter to wear to her fifth grade graduation (yes, the daughter that just got married last week). What I really cannot figure out is why is the white dresser in this photo? I can’t recall why it was in this room, because it has always belonged to my daughter, but I’m sure there must be a good reason for it … if only I could remember what it is!

When I started flipping through my photos to find something to share today and I ran across this one, it immediately transported me back in time. You can see that it’s dark outside, which is when I spent most of my time sewing. My kids would fall asleep to the hum of my sewing machine most nights. This room made me so happy, and I spent so many enjoyable hours in here, even if I’d sort of forgotten about it till I found this photo. That’s why I think it’s important to take photos not only of events and family and friends, but also spaces where you spend time. My mood immediately brightened when I saw this, and it reminded me that I don’t always need the latest and greatest of everything to enjoy quilting. It’s not about the destination, after all … quilting, much like travelling, is about the journey!

Throw-back Thursday

I’m not sure what’s more notable – the kids being so freakin’ young or the quilt! In this photo, Kerstin and Travis are about nine and eight, respectively. Back then, Kerstin was several inches taller than Travis, but today Travis towers over all of us. LOL! Today, they are 20 and very nearly 19! Time flies when you’re having fun. 🙂

The quilt is an Irish Chain – one of my favorite to make, seriously. Sorry that it’s not more clear, but since it IS TBT, that’s acceptable, right? 😉