Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Quilting, a new art form for me

For my birthday, Norman gave me a gift certificate good for a beginning quilting class at my local fabric store, Fabric Inspirations. I have always loved creating things out of fabric, yarn, or any kind of fiber, and although I learned how to sew as all of my generation did in an 8th grade home economics class, I never did try my hand at quilting. I adore handmade quilts, soft and cuddly ones with imperfect but lovingly sewn stitches. To me, each quilt should tell a story, perhaps through the chosen fabrics as in a memory quilt, or through the comraderie of the quilters who came together as a group to make it, or even in the history of the lucky owners who enjoyed its warmth. Quilts should be practical but beautiful, and definitely something to treasure.

Kate's pillow for me (front)
Kate's pillow for me (back)
My daughter, Katie, took a costume class in her fall semester at Rutgers and learned how to sew, quilt and embroider. She made for me a quilted pillow with lovely fabrics and an embroidered letter B for my name. She is so creative and thoughtful in every gift she gives to the people she loves and I was moved to tears with this handmade present. I went right out and bought a new sewing machine to replace my old one that stopped working years ago, as well as rulers, pins, a rotary cutter and a score of other tools to start my own quilt. I stared at videos on YouTube for hours, watching experienced quilters demonstrate their techniques and eventually had my favorite online quilters and a list of favorite blogs to follow. We attended a quilting exhibit and that was fun to see what people are doing with this art form today. Although I am still in love with the older style quilts, I saw art quilts at the show suspended on walls like paintings and they opened my eyes to the possibilities you can do with fabric. The designer in me was inspired for sure.

My iPhone case
My learn to quilt class would not start until later in the spring, but I was anxious to put my new hobby to the test. With my background in graphic design and mechanical art skills I jumped right into the craft, thinking I could do this! Starting small, my first project was a tiny quilted cover for my cell phone, and then a pillow for Katie as a thank you for starting me on this new journey. What fun!

My pillow for Kate (front)
My pillow for Kate (back)
Katie's pillow began with a design I created on Adobe illustrator based on Robert Indiana's Love sculpture. Even with my inexperienced quilting attempts, I was able to figure out how to add seam allowances to the shapes in the design and managed to stitch it together even though my scant quarter inch seams were not so perfectly uniform. The back of the pillow has a center block that Katie created in her class, embroidered with the words, "Thank you." The sewing on our beginner projects was certainly not perfect, but our pillows are an enthusiastic expression of love and creativity between a mother and daughter and that is perfection to me.

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