Sunday, October 12, 2014

My Quilt Obsession

On a recent facebook resale site, a woman offered for sale a pieced quilt top made by her grandmother.  Immediately I thought, "Oh! Don't sell it!" As I clicked to comment I saw that I was not the only one to express those sentiments.  One after another, folks pleaded that she reconsider commenting that such an heirloom could never be replaced.  
I was impressed that no one pounced on this opportunity to score an antique pieced quilt top at a bargain price.  I guess it goes to show that the type of folk who'd be interested in such a piece have kind hearts and pure souls.

Reading the comments about such a great pieced cotton heirloom quilt made me pause and think about the beautiful quilts in my own collection.

Hand pieced, hand quilted baby quilt by Margaret Waller.
This magnificent baby quilt was made by my mother shortly after my first son was born.

Hand quilting at it's best!
It was completely done by hand!
It is my most prized possession.
When I look at it, I am overwhelmed by the workmanship, artistry, and love that certainly was poured into each and every stitch.  But what truly makes it special is knowing that while she worked on it, she thought of me, my new baby boy and future children, and my new role as mother.  And I cannot think of anything as dear as those thoughts and that love being transformed into something so beautiful!  It is not enough to say that it was made by her; it truly is made of her.

Wall quilt by Margaret Waller.
A few years later, my mother sent me this quilted wall hanging. 
Incorporated into the quilt was a fabric with scenes of a father and son fishing, hiking, and out in nature.

This was not a randomly chosen fabric, it was deliberate and thoughtful.
Captured in a 3 x 3 foot quilt are countless memories of the yearly summer visits my husband, our two young sons, and I shared with my parents out at the lake.

"Buzz Saw" quilt pieced by Margaret Waller.
Recently my mother has been gifting all of her incredible creations to family members.  At one of our recent family reunions she asked us each to select one of her quilts.  It was a difficult task as they are all exquisite.  I chose this traditional buzz saw quilt.  

I love the movement in the design and the fall color pallet.  The machine quilting on this quilt is extraordinary. 
This I cherish!

Americana Sampler pieced by Margaret Waller
This Americana quilt sample quilt was given to my older son for his college graduation.

It is special because it was one of the first quilts my mother made.

This rag quilt was my own first attempt at quilting.
I made it one summer during a visit "up North" with my mother's guidance.
I've made several of these rag quilts in various colors for seasonal display and as baby shower gifts.
Made from homespun cotton, these quilts are soft and comfy and can be made in a wide range of sizes.  It's a great starter quilt!

My next quilt attempt was made from a fabric panel.  It's basically a single piece of fabric to which a border is added, then batting and backing.  I then hand quilted around all of the squares and illustrations.  I finished it off with a bias tape binding made from a coordinating fabric.


After working on a couple of these, I felt I had mastered the art of hand quilting and binding!
I proudly hang these holiday quilts up each season.


To introduce myself to quilt piecing, I purchased fabric line samples.  They are sold in a small pad-like stack and they include all the fabrics created for a fabric design line.  Because the fabric line consists of coordinating fabrics and the samples are all cut into squares, all one needs to do is sew them together to create a small quilted wall hanging.
This project is really helpful in learning how to match your corners and keep consistent seams.
Once the pieced top is complete all it takes is some batting, backing, binding, and some hand quilting around each square.  Again...excellent practice!

With my mother's encouragement and watchful eye, I attempted a significantly more difficult project.  Though small in scale, this project taught me how to read and follow a quilt pattern.  The valuable lesson I learned here is was that if one follows the pattern carefully, even a seemingly difficult design can be done!

For my first solo quilt, I purchased a quilting book that had all of the most basic quilt squares.
I felt confident that I could do rectangles, so I designed a lap quilt using the rail fence square.
The rail fence square is made up of three rectangular pieces.  I made this quilt for the elementary school I was working in whose mascot was the Wranglers. 

My inspiration fabric was a vintage looking cowboy/cowgirl print in our school colors: red, blue, and yellow.  Because I had invested both time and money on this quilt top, I chose to have it professionally machine quilted. 

With my confidence up, I decided to try making another lap quilt, this time using a pattern.
I purchased a pattern, "Just Can't Cut It" by All Washed Up, comprised of rectangles and squares at a local quilt store, selected my fabrics, and set to work.

This quilt was very easy what with the HUGE squares mixed in with the pieced squares.
Again, I had this one professionally machine quilted.

Ready to work on another quilt, but not wanting to pay for the machine quilting, I decided to copy one of my mother's quilts (Father and Son fishing quilt).  I figured out how to cut my pieces out, and then simply followed the existing quilt.  Because the finished quilt was only 3x3 feet, I opted to hand quilt on the inside of each piece.  This project was perfect for practicing construction and hand stitching.  I've made several quilts using this pattern, each with its own unique fabric combinations.

Ready for something a bit more challenging, I decided to make a twin-bed sized quilt with a more complicated design and incorporating many more fabrics.
I purchased the pattern, "Yellow Brick Road" by Atkinson Desigsn, and then spent hours selecting fabrics.

I discovered that perhaps the most difficult part of piecing a quilt together is not the construction...It's deciding where to place your squares!  Random quilts are difficult for me.  I agonize over getting my randomness to not be so....random!

With several successful "all rectangle piece" quilts I was ready to tackle triangles.
With this quilt pattern from Wal-Mart's quilt of the month my experience with triangles was put to the test.  

Comprised of nearly 1500 triangles, this pieced quilt top was a labor of love.  I worked on it several summers ago, but have not yet taken it in to have it professionally quilted. 
I am so proud of this one!

The last quilt top I pieced together was this "Hip to be Square" quilt by Busy Bee Designs. I made it for our bed.  I finished piecing it years ago, but haven't taken it in to be quilted.
While I was working on it, I found a beautiful quilt at a department store that I fell madly in love with and just wasn't pushed to get my own quilted.
I have made a promise to of right get these two quilted THIS YEAR!

American History quilt hand pieced and quilted by Margaret Waller
I have such an appreciation for pieced quilts.  I know how much time they take, the cost, the incredible thought that goes into the fabric selection, the construction, the artistry, the quilting - machine or hand, and the sheer number of hours one's hands are laboring with love! 

I am not a quilt snob.  


I have an appreciation for utilitarian scrap quilts as well as finely crafted art pieces, 

Retail Quilt Hand quilted Unknown  
traditional and modern designs, 


homemade and retail, 

Applique Quilt by Margarita Hernandez, my husband's grandmother
sophisticated and folksy, 

Retail quilt - JC Penney
queen-sized and potholder! 


Every bedroom's gotta have at least one,

and they simply must be within arm's reach on a cool afternoon!

Snuggle up my friends and wrap yourself up in a bundle of love!

All photographs taken by Paulette Rodriguez.

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