Friday, January 27, 2012

Blast from the Past

The year 1976 was the year of our country's bicentennial. It's also been said that 1976 was the year quilting first began to reemerge as a pass time. I was a teeny part of that resurgence.

In 1976, I was a 23 year-old, stay-at-home, new mom. We lived in a rented townhouse in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I didn't know very many people because we had moved to that city, from Wisconsin, less than two weeks before our daughter was born.

Never able to be idle for long, I needed something to do. I'd already been sewing, done some crewel embroidery, and joined in the macrame craze - it was the 70's after all! I needed something else to occupy myself during naptimes. That's when I took a three-week adult education class on quilting.

Everything we learned was done by hand. We drew templates and cut them out of cereal boxes. (Rotary supplies hadn't yet been conceived.) We pieced and quilted by hand. The only quilting book I could find to buy was this one, a Dover publication originally printed in 1949.

Our teacher taught us how to make a Grandmother's Flower Garden block. I appliqued mine to the back of one of hubby's denim shirts. Ha! What a great guy he was to humor me by wearing it, even though he looked like a walking target.

We didn't keep the shirt, but what I still have is the first quilt I ever made.
It's also my first UFO. 
Variable Triangles, 84" X 93"
The pattern is Variable Triangles, and it's made from all found fabrics in my house at the time. Curtains, Jill's little dresses, and my old maternity tops were fair game for being cut up and put into this quilt. I'm sure that not all the fabrics are 100 percent cotton.

After hand piecing it, I hand pieced widths of muslin for a back, sandwiched it with polyester batting, and started hand quilted it. The quilting isn't finished.

After all this time, I can't think of any good reason for finishing it.

But I will keep it.

Until now, this quilt hadn't been photographed, but since I've been inventorying all my quilts, it's one I'm glad to document. On a spreadsheet, I'm noting things like the quilt name, pattern used, colors, dimensions, and year made. When I'm finished, I'm looking forward to knowing how many quilts I have!

This evening, in spite of the snow, I'm heading for a sew-in with members of our Modern Quilt Guild. We'll be sewing all day Saturday too. I've got a goal: to make and add the last round to my medallion quilt. There. I've said it. Now it will happen. Right? Linda


  1. Great post Linda, wish I had documented all my quilts, ...given so many away, lost count of them now..
    That's a lovely first quilt..lovely to look and remember those days by.
    Julia ♥

  2. What a great post and wonderful photo. It sounds just like me back in the 70's with a new baby and trying to find something relaxing to do while he was asleep. Thanks for the memories.

  3. Wow! I loved this post and don't think I know anyone who made a triangle quilt as their first project...UFO or not! Mine was a small least the one I made in the quilting class that I took in 1980. We learned simiar techniques using similar materials, it seems. I can still see the long navy maxi dress that I made for the bi-centennial! It is unbelievable how much quilting has changed in the last 30 years!

  4. What an amazing story Linda! I love seeing your first quilt and the hand quilting looks wonderful. Your story mirrors my own a little just a few yeays later...

  5. I'm sure if you set your mind to it you will have your quilt finished by the end of the day.

    I love your hand quilting, very nice.

    I've been wanting to inventory my quilts and maybe this will be the push I need.

    Have fun this weekend.

  6. Good on you, Linda. What a lovely first quilt, finished or not. It's nearly finished, by the sound of it.

    Luckily, by the time I started patchwork, rotary cutters, rulers and boards had been invented.

    I'm slowly working on my quilt documentation!

  7. Not everything needs to be finished, but some things really need to be kept anyway. It's a real memory piece!
    I know that Medallion quilt will be finished, I can't wait to see what your finished quilt looks like. I'm quite envious.
    Your daughter looks just like you in that photo.

  8. what a lovely memory piece Linda...well worth keeping!

  9. What a fun post. I hope you are having a wonderful time sewing today!

  10. I love your first quilt. Its such a memory. We used my first quilt which was a Queen size and hand quilted on our bed for years. Pretty faded now, but still good even though I say so myself.VBG!
    Shall we keep you to that comment? LOL! As you say, now that you've said it, you'll have to do it!
    Today I am starting my Lozengers. Wish me luck!

  11. It's great that you have your first quilt (even if it is a UFO). You can look back and see how far you've progressed with your quilting skills.

  12. Ive always had a spreadsheet of my quilts, names, dates and where they are now (given to family or friends, or donated to good causes). When I did DJ and Farmers Wife I ran a spreadsheet of numbers of pieces. Guess you can see I worked in science for 20+ years. I photographed every quilt too - and when I look back I certainly wouldn't remember lots of my quilts without them. My first quilt from a Sampler for Shona - in polyester fabrics, cotton fabrics, wrong batting, bad sewing even worse quilting by hand - but its surviving quite nicely still. I love the memories they all bring.

  13. I was born that year! Maybe the quilting bug was in the air then! Great pics :)

  14. Oh, I enjoyed that post. I had just gotten married in 1976 and tried my hand at quilting. Making templates, Ugh! I gave my quilt to my grandmas because I did not like to make the pieces that way. Next Christmas she made the quilt and gave it back to me. Pretty special.

  15. Wow! I was shocked to see how much Jill looks like Jason in the baby pic above! I thought it was Jason for the longest time! fun to see that sweet time in our life once again!


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