Thursday, 20 January 2011

I'm a Quilter Not a Quitter

Detail of Union flag quilt

A year or so ago I found myself languishing; it had been a tough few months - my second career had hit the buffers and there was nothing new on the horizon. Watching too much daytime television I was feeling a sense of frustration. My intuitive mother had noticed - even though we were separated by seas, oceans and mountains . It was during one of our regular phone calls that she suddenly declared, "What you need is a project!" A couple of weeks later a parcel arrived in the post - a beautiful Moda Arcadia layer cake and a "wedding cake" quilt pattern, as well as a rotary cutter, ruler, cutting mat, sharps and thread. Everything I needed to begin my 'new project'.

With a renewed sense of vigour, I studied the pattern. And studied the pattern. I was daunted. Did the pattern include seam allowances or not? Hmm. What was I to do? I'd lost so much confidence that I was baffled by a straightforward quilting pattern. Should I cut up this beautiful and expensive material and risk losing the whole thing? Or make something simpler? I plumped for the latter and decided to make a small quilt for my young son and one which could be used as a lap quilt when he grew bigger. The blocks were simple - approximately 10"x10" made up of three rectangles. It was then that I started a new chapter in my life. I started to make my first quilt.

A few months later, my husband and I went out to dinner with our good friends to celebrate a birthday. Their teenage daughter was with us and bored with the conversation of middle aged parents and friends, she started to flick through the photos on my iphone. She came across pictures of the nearly finished quilt top and cooed enthusiastically. My friend asked, "Could you make us a Union flag quilt?" The answer to such a question was clearly "No". I'd never finished a quilt, let alone such a complicated design as the Union flag. I'd never basted a quilt, I'd never bound a quilt and had limited experience of piecing. "Yes. Of course I can make you one!" I replied.

Mille grazie to Jennifer Klie who has a wonderful pattern for a Union flag quilt at her Etsy shop. With a copy of Quilting for Dummies becoming bedtime reading and a few tutorials on YouTube, I made the first cuts into the stunning pastel fabrics from Tanya Whelan and Amy Butler and 6 months later it was finished. My first quilt. Completely hand pieced and hand quilted. Not one machine stitch, which makes me a quilting purist apparently (the truth actually being that I couldn't find my machine as I'd lent it to my sister in law). It wasn't all plain sailing...there were tantrums along the way ( difficulties cutting out long strips of fabric on a small cutting mat, not following the pattern correctly, completely unpicking the quilting stiches on a quarter of the quilt after deciding they were too close)...but it was all worth it when it was handed over to its new owner and her smiles said that she loved it. But that's not the end of the story is it? What became of 'the project'? The first project that my mother sent me? Well I've returned to it like an old friend but that's for another day. My confidence is back. I didn't quit and I've found out that I can quilt!


Nadilah Sungkar said...

Anabella, your quilt is gorgeous!.. I'm thinking of doing a hand quilt after basting the quilt.I'm afraid of using the sewing machine since I haven't mastered it yet. You should check my progress.

Annabella said...

Thanks Nadilah - I really enjoyed hand quilting although next time I will leave wider spacing between the lines. I shall certainly pop back and see how your quilt progresses. By the way, your baking creations are works of art!

Jen Klie said...

Just stumbled across your blog after googling myself and am so thrilled to see both of your Union Jack quilts! I'm glad that I was a part of your quilting journey...and hand pieced no me impressed.


Lorna McMahon said...

Sew glad you linked up your first post on Quilter's Table, Annabella! What a great read! Wow... Hand pieced and quilted. Glad to hear your friends' daughter got her quilt and got you started on a wonderful journey. And your mom is 'da bomb'!

Debbie said...

What a sweet post and what an amazing start to your quilting journey! And yes, I want to read about that 'first project!'