Sunday, November 27, 2011

My First Quilt

Bonnie, over at Quiltville, thought it would be fun to share 'first quilts', so last evening I dug mine out.  Currently it resides in the closet in my back room, wherein I keep almost all of the family memorabilia -- mainly photos, framed and in albums, but also cases of news articles (like the lunar landing and Canada's Centennial Year), a quartet of my favourite childhood toys (teddy bear, Lambie Pie, Betsy Wetsy and a doll whose name I've forgotten) -- and things from my babies' childhood.

One of these is that first quilt: a rail fence baby quilt, stitched 'in the ditch', made in a class taught by the founder of the original Freckles Quilt Shop in Calgary, in the fall of 1984.   The class was quite an investment, because I bought not only fabric but also the newest in quilting gear: a small mat, two Omnigrid rulers (6"x12" and 6"x24"), and an Olfa rotary cutter, both of which are still in use.

Marty, ca 2001
My husband and I had been trying to have a second baby and, at last, I believed we'd succeeded.  Making this quilt on faith, my suspicions were confirmed the following week, and in June 1985 I gave birth to my son.  He loved his 'blankie' and carried it everywhere, which accounts for its very worn look. (It once had a border to match that red strip zig-zagging its way down the front like a scar!)  The fabric is cotton, but I think the batting was polyester -- you can see it peeking through the shredded blocks.

Rail Fence, ca. 1984
Freckles first shop was so small that Jenny, the owner, taught all but the very smallest classes in the lower level of her home.  She lived in Mount Royal, as I recall, a very posh area.  Her home was built into a hill, and the walk-out basement was where she held her classes.  I still remember the view through a wall of windows to her back garden.
Jenny is gone now, and so is that original Freckles, and I understand that the second owner, Janet, who moved the shop from downtown to the Northwest, has retired, so the shop has closed it's doors again -- likely for good.  I will miss it, even though once I moved over 2 hours away, I rarely got in to see it.

Once I made the Rail Fence, I didn't make another until a good ten years later, when I began to quilt in earnest -- and Freckles was part of my early learning curve.  A girlfriend convinced me to join her for the monthly "Saturday Block" program, and I spent the next three years making quilts with some sort of star blocks in 'em -- great tutelage for half-square triangles and precision piecing!  I even went on a couple of the shop's annual retreats, and made a batik around-the-world quilt for my mother, which now lives on the back of my sofa and keeps me warm during my Sunday naps.

I don't have many of my early quilts -- they were made and given away.  My favourite pattern is "Magic Tiles" -- I've made 6 or 7 of those over the years, and have fat quarters reserved for yet another one (pour moi this time), to which I'll turn my attention one of these days.

And so it goes.

This morning I tucked the Rail Fence back into the closet with the cardigan, the hand-knit dresses and other mementoes of baby days.  If there are grand-children in my future, one of these days a Rail Fence II may appear on my trusty cutting mat.


besshaile said...

How wonderful to have a first quilt. I haven't a single 'first' thing and only one toy from my childhood.

Even better - how wonderful to have that son of yours.

Lots to be thankful for

Gina said...

I remember that quilt.

And I don't know about Marty, but I still have my yellow Holly Hobby one that Aunt Alice made.

Maybe quilting skips a generation and if one of us has children, they will continue the tradition; I love all my quilts.