The Journey Has Begun

In the summer of 2000, a friend showed me a quilted pillow she had made, and immediately I knew that this was something I had to do. That was the beginning of a hobby that has colored my life, and opened many doors. Sewing has always been a passion with me, but this was one facet of the skill I had never tried.

The first thing was to buy a book featuring scrap quilts….lots of color and pattern. What was appealing was the small to medium sized projects….I somehow knew a bed quilt was not in my plan. The book also contained some beginner’s instructions, showing the necessary tools and the basics of construction. Naturally, the most intricate pattern was the one I just had to make…but that was good because everything after that was easy. This was a little tablecloth with many, many small pieces, using templates……perhaps not the perfect choice for a novice. (pic) But I did learn all about joining and matching seams, and found that I liked the mechanics of putting tiny pieces of fabric together with precision. And I fell in love with color. By this time, I had converted a guest bedroom into a sewing studio, bought a serger, a new sewing machine, upgraded to a better one, took anyone’s cast off storage units and filled the room with quilting supplies. Every ruler known to man is hanging on my cork wall……I can’t resist them. My supportive husband installed additional lighting, wonderful speakers to pipe music into the room, and recessed my machine into a counter top desk. I was good to go.

After a year or two of tablecloths, doll quilts, lap quilts, and pillows, I decided to make and present to my three daughters and two daughters in law, a set of wall hangings….one for each month as well as holidays. And of course, a set for me too. I purchased six unfinished, wall shelves, stained them, outfitted them with simple hardware, and a dowel with some drapery hooks and café curtain rings, and then started the quilts. What a delightful undertaking it has been.

It’s surprising how little fabric is needed to create a small hanging, so they turned out to be economical as well. Imagination is a large factor, and the more I made, the more elaborate they became. Embellishment with beads, buttons, lace, all sorts of trims, and jewels, made each one more fun than the last. Applique, scalloped edges, tassels, and decorative stitching also came into play, and that’s what it was….happy play time. Fusible web, hot set crystals, luscious ribbons, pieces of old costume jewelry , small crocheted doilies, Mardi Gras beads.. ..my mind is trained to recognize anything that could be used to make the quilts prettier or more interesting….. you should see my accumulation of “junque”. And oh, the “props”…… the little accessories adorning the tops of the shelves! Garage sales and dollar stores are great places to find them and all of us are constantly on the look out for unusual figurines, plates, bottles, and the like.

Fortunately, the girls love each addition to their collections, and eagerly await the next. I try to make no two the same, so everyone feels a bit special….except for the St. Patrick’s Day/March selection….EVERYONE wanted the shamrock!

Some months are more difficult than others….August …..what does one do in August? No one has a quilt for August! But, one day a light flashed in my head and I knew just the thing. Pretty pinwheels, bordered in summer fruit. Mostly, the quilts are done randomly and given at any time, not just gift-giving occasions. That makes it even more fun….my family is pretty scattered and we don’t see each other often, so these little gifts are expressions of love that I can send whenever they’re finished. If a birthday falls around that time, all the better, and if one of them receives a Valentine quilt in September, who cares?

Perhaps you shy away from quilting because of the time and difficulty involved in making a king sized bed quilt….I would too. My little treasures are whipped up quickly…..binding is not necessary, although perfectly permissible, and all stitching is done by machine. None are larger than twenty two or three inches wide, and about twenty seven inches long. It’s very gratifying to see the finished product in a few days rather than a year. They are very easy to store….skirt hangers are perfect and several fit in a corner of a closet neatly.

Each of the girls and I have nine or ten seasonal/monthly hangings. Almost done….but my next plan is to make a birthday quilt for everyone in each family, to be hung on his or her special day. Let’s see….that will be twenty two, I believe……hmmmmm…. Time’s awasting.

Dolores Lambert is the mother of five, grandmother of nine, and great-grandmother of one. She lives with her husband, Rick, in New York State. Having sewn most of her life, she discovered quilting fairly recently and now works furiously to accomplish all she wishes to do in this field. Among her other loves are reading, music, especially opera, golf, Bridge, light gardening, visiting museums, and exploring historical sites in her history rich region.

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