15 November, 2019

The Finer Points of Quiltmaking?

I made this quilt for my parents in 1988 to commemorate their joint retirements. They both worked for the town that I was born and raised in; my father for the highway department and my mother as a radio dispatcher for emergency calls at the communications department. I didn't know a whole lot about quilting back then; I had only completed one or two rudiemtary quilts but, undaunted by my complete lack of experience, I thought that this would be the perfect gift. I chose this album block format and decided to hand embroider significant events from their lives up until then in the block centers. I used waste canvas on top of muslin and set to work. 
I continued in this fashion on seventeen of the blocks, listing such momentous occasions as their marriage, childrens' and grandchildrens birth dates, etc.; clear through to the retirement and culminating with a photo transfer of the retirement party invitation in the bottom right block. This was completely hand quilted. Naturally, they loved it and used it for years; they didn't care that it was done by a relative quilting greenhorn, they love me and they graciously held it on to it for the last thirty one years for all that it represents. I was recently reacquainted with it when I visited a few weeks ago.
This quilt is something of a time capsule of fabrics and a reminder of my affection for unbleached muslin back then! I recall using 1/4" masking tape around each square and rectangle to mark the quilting lines and the blue wash-away marker menthod with a stencil for the sashing and setting triangles. One thing that I must not have done was prewash that pretty denim blue fabric!
The bleed-through to the back side is heartbreaking. My mother never told me, she was probably too afraid of hurting my feelings. I brought it home to give it some love and attention. I will attempt to rescue yet another bleeding quilt the same way I did this past summer (click here); I'm no stranger to dye catastrophes.  Oh, what lessons I could teach my 35-year-old self now! But the best is yet to come:
How do you like that corner treatment on the backside of the binding? That was my trademark back then, I would carefully fold the miter on the binding's front side and run a little gathering stitch around the corner as I attached it by hand to the back. I felt very clever. One day, most likely in this same time frame of the late 1980's a kind and patient quilting friend and mentor asked me to sit beside her at lunch during a quilt show judging for our guild. She took a paper napkin and quietly showed me how to fold it so that the miters would be crisp and square, front and back. She had overheard the quilt judge mention in her comments on a quilt of mine that "someone needs to show this lady how to turn a corner with her binding". From that day on I gave up my rounded-off gathering stitch! I thought I might replace the binding on this quilt when I first saw it but have decided not to now, this is a precious reminder (at least to me) of how far I have come over the years. The bleeding will be attended to however, and any necessary repairs will be promptly made. Wish me luck; this quilt makes the now 31-years-older quiltmaker in me smile as much today as the day that it was presented; even though it's rough in its construction methods the amount of love contained here remains. 🧡
Life is Good!

Coming up next: Retreat Recap


( Terri ) Ellen Goodding Anderson said...

Oh, Debbie. What a beautiful tribute to your folks. So wonderful to give it a bit of love now. God bless them and you.

Quiltdivajulie said...

What a beautiful project -- and how marvelous that you can now use newer information to reduce and/or eliminate that bleed. I think sometimes we NEED to approach projects with a beginner's mindset - we don't know that we can't do something, so we do it anyway. That's been true in my life many times.

Lindah said...

Love your story. And what a sweet and pretty quilt. Such a good idea to add milestones and special events along with the names.
I have a binding story, too. Having come directly from 25 yrs of garment sewing, during which I learned to detest the bindings on necklines and little girls' puff sleeves, etc, and knowing NOTHING about quilts, I determined that my quilts would not have any of those detested bindings on them. So, my first few quilts crib size to full bed size were done envelope style and then tied. Oh, gag. I had a lot to learn. :-)
You know, it is only in the last few years that I have been having trouble with colors bleeding. This is progress?
Thank you for sharing your pretty quilt and the memories.

Janet O. said...

Such a sweet gift you made for your parents, and I love the story about the woman showing you how to miter your binding. Great memories with this quilt. It deserves your TLC, and I am glad you aren't going to "fix" the binding.

jude's page said...

I think it's great that you will leave that binding, as it tells a journey of how far you have progressed in your quilting journey. Blessed that your parents have kept it all these years.