23 June, 2012

I'm A Half-Lifer

I realized the other day that I took my first quilting class early in 1983, that was twenty nine and a half years ago; half my life! As startling as it is to think about how this last half of my life has been transformed through discovering the art of quilt making; it's just as astounding to see how the quilt making world has changed during this period of time. When I began collecting a few meager quilting magazines, back in those early days, some were still being  printed in  black and white.  My first quilt was a sampler and the templates (yes, templates!) necessary for piecing were made from cardboard. I cut out the fabric pieces with shears and marked my lines for hand quilting (of course!) with very thin soap slivers. A LOT has changed over the years, and most of the changes are for the better... there's no doubt that we can finish our projects quicker and more accurately now thanks to better tools and technology; but I wouldn't trade those early learning experiences, or my tools of today, for anything; they've worked together to build a strong foundation, one that I can confidently build the rest of my quilts (and life) upon. The huge community of quilting friends is a priceless dividend. What percentage of your life have you spent quilting?


Life is Good!

15 comments:

Gari said...

An interesting idea: I have only spent 5.5% of my life quilting. But they have been so rewarding that if feels like I have been doing this my whole life.

Kathy ... aka Nana said...

I started my first quilt in 1982 ... I would have been 31, so I've been quilting more than half my life! I remember templates (which I wasn't very accurate in tracing out ... I learned the hard way how important accuracy is in quilting). Since cutting fabric is my least favorite part, I am especially thankful for all the tools available to me now.

Ann Babillis said...

I'm also glad I have old school skills. And I'm also grateful for all the advancements in ophthalmology, which were part of the reason I couldn't draw accurate cardboard templates. Things are easier when you have an accurate eyeglass prescription.

StitchinByTheLake said...

I came to quilting late - when I was 48. But I'd watched my grandmothers and my mother quilt all my life so I guess I learned a little by osmosis. :) Seventeen years later I still feel like a beginner some days but other days I just zip along and miraculously things come out right. I do have a great appreciation for today's tools though. Even though I bought her a rotary cutter and rulers and mats my mother never really liked them - she inevitably went back to her newspaper or cardboard templates and cut them out by hand. I guess we all get in our comfort zone and enjoy our very own "old ways". blessings, marlene

julieQ said...

How fun to think about this...I have been quilting, helping mother that is, since I was a little girl. I made my first quilt all on my own when I was 21...so I guess 55.3 percent of my life I have been quilting, on my own that is!

Nane said...

Made my first quilt as a freshman in college on Chrisymas break. Mom and Sad had moved to Wa and I knew nobody so it filled the time. I was 18 then and 45 now so I guess I am way past 50 percent. Joined the guild at age 23! But I have to agree that the friends I have made are some of the best dividends of this journey. Like You!

Janet O. said...

I started hand quilting on my Mother's quilts when I was in junior high, but didn't actually start making my own quilts until I was in my 30s. I haven't quite been at it half of my life--just shy by 4 years!

Carrie P. said...

I started quilting much later in my life, in 1999. I did try to make a quilt in 1977 but I didn't like cutting out all those pieces with scissors. I am glad my mom introduced me to the rotary cutter.

Salem Stitcher said...

I'm at 44.68%. Seems like yesterday. It's amazing how much richer my life has been since that first trip to Piece Goods.

Charleen said...

I'm at 66.6%! I made my first quilt in my dorm's study room. No one was using it for anything during finals week :-) That thing was so heavy that you couldn't put it on top of you but it held up for years and did a good job as a play mat - later as a moving quilt.

I took my first class in 1978 and did mostly hand piecing, cutting the pieces with cereal box templates. It was wonderful to sit outside with the kids and slowly piece together a pillow or small quilt.

Linnie Quilts said...

I was 50 when I came to quilting, 13 years ago. Moved to Pennsylvania and knew no one here so took a quilting class because it had always intrigued me. Made GREAT friendships (as well as lots of quilts) which will last a lifetime. Learned to hand-piece first but definitely prefer to machine piece and usually send my quilts out to a longarmer; my hand quilting leaves much to be desired. Now that I'm retiring I'll have time to practice, practice, practice ;-)

Elita en Suisse said...

38% and it's all been since I came to Geneva! Interestingly, it also means I've lived 38% of my life here. Pretty good place to be. :-) Like you, I appreciate the "old school skills" and pass that on to my beginning students. They have to do the practice blocks by hand and then they can use the machine! Can't beat knowing that if you're stuck up in the mountains with only a cereal box, scissors, needle, thread & fabric.

regan said...

I've been quilting for 56% of my life! And can I just say that using the calculator to get that figure was a real trick in itself! My math skills are focused on geometry, not algebra! LOL

Carolyn said...

My first quilt wss in 1977, so I was 25 and am 60 now, so a long time ago. Like you I started with cardboard templates and scissors and only hand quilting. My, how we grow. On occasion my dh will remind me how I detested machine quilting. I love all the new advances in our industry. Hand quilting is still my favorite part, but I love how my machine skills have evolved.

Eileen said...

I began quilting in the winter of 1993-94. You're right about the foundation; I learned to do everything by hand, including the sashings and cornerstones of my six block sampler. I'm sure a lot of tools were invented between your beginning and mine, but I'm constantly dumbfounded by what's coming out now.