Well, my episode on The Quilt Show premiered yesterday and I am pleased to say I did just fine. It took me all day to get up the nerve to watch the show, but after dinner my husband and I finally sat down and gave it a whirl. What a relief! I’ve spent the last seven months since filming worried that I babbled like a complete fool. (I think they very kindly edited those parts out).
Here I am with Ricky. This was right before we began filming and I was explaining the steps I was going to demonstrate. (Photo courtesy of Gregory Case Photography)
Here I am chatting with Alex and Ricky. This was right after filming the demonstration and I think I was a little shell shocked during this bit. I’m perched on the edge of the seat trying to remember everything my mother told me about sitting like a lady. Right before we began filming, Alex smiled, leaned over, and said, “That’s right. You really want to sit up straight for this.” (Thanks, Mom). (Photo courtesy of Gregory Case Photography)
Here’s me all by my lonesome. The filming was all done and I was very, very relieved. Notice the smile and slightly dazed look. (Photo courtesy of Gregory Case Photography)
I’m hoping you don’t find it too egomaniac here if I tell a little of my quilt history: A lot of professional quilters have spend a number of years developing a quilt career. That is just not my story. I think of myself as your average, every day kind of quilter who stumbled into something else. As we know, different aspects of quilting appeal to different quilters. I have friends who do the most amazing handwork, for instance – beautiful applique and embroidery. I envy their skill a lot, definitely lust after the beautiful results, but learned a number of years ago that handwork doesn’t rock my boat.
I’m a technique girl. I like to buy books that show me how to do something new. And once I figure out what is what with that new technique, I like to take it out for a spin. “What if I try this?” I ask myself. Frankly, those efforts, while they entertain me, don’t usually amount to much.
Here’s another thing: I’ve always liked the look of miniature quilts. I mean, what’s not to like? They are awesomely cute! I made a few along the way but didn’t actually enjoy it very much. Little tiny patches were too fussy to work with and I found it annoyingly difficult to match seams – which didn’t actually match all that well. Add in that a small mismatch on a miniature looks anything but small. No, I wasn’t making a whole lot of miniatures.
Enter “Make it Simpler,” a book by Anita Grossman Solomon on a new paper piecing technique for making six-inch blocks. Her approach eliminates the step where you have to match and pin all the separate pieces of a foundation. Wow.
I was immediately intrigued by the notion of using the technique to make miniature quilts. My first few efforts focused on making individual blocks. And the technique works great for that, by the by. (I’m working on doing more with that).
But then, it was Christmas and while making up gifts, I finished up a miniature quilt I had started a couple years earlier (ahem). It was a tumbler quilt and I used a traditional paper-piecing technique: I sewed each row of the quilt individually and then joined the rows together. After finishing, I had it up on the wall so I could admire it before wrapping it up. As I admired, I thought, “Hey, I could use Fold and Sew to join those rows.” I still thought I would have to sew each row separately though.
But I continued to look at it and I noticed how the tumblers zig-zagged down the quilt and I thought, “I bet I could sew all the rows at the same time.” After a little EQ time designing the foundation, I was off to the sewing room.
Here’s the resulting quilt: the very first one I made applying Fold and Sew to miniatures. The pieced tumbler section measures 7" by 7" and the quilt 13" by 13". It was easy. It was precise. It was fast! I was in love.
Enter serendipity: a number of years ago my husband and I had made a deal. He was going back to school to get a degree (or two, as it turned out) and when he finished, I was going to take a break from teaching and write a novel. My experiments with Fold and Sew happened just when I took that time off. I think during the first week I made five miniatures.
A couple of months and many miniatures later, I admitted I was not going to write a novel because I was just too darned caught up in continuing to make miniatures. Since I needed something to show for my time off, I promised myself I would do a book proposal. A couple of quilt buddies played pattern tester. I taught classes at the local quilt shop.
And eight months after making my first miniature using Fold and Sew, the book proposal went in the mail. A couple months later I got the phone call telling me C&T had accepted the book proposal. (I made a fool of myself on the phone but that’s a story for another day).
Which is why in April of this year I found myself standing in my living room wearing my pj’s and talking to Alex Anderson on the phone. She had called to warn me that the day I was filming was “Hippie Day” and cast and crew were dressing up: “Those guys really take it seriously. I told them there was no way I could let you just walk into that without knowing. Do you think you could dress up?”
Yikes. I went shopping but I have to admit, anything remotely hippie-ish that I tried on looked beyond dreadful and I compromised on the green tunic. ( Those beads are a little sixties, don’t you think?) I’m glad I didn’t go further though since when I I arrived I discovered they had decided it was too much to film the whole show looking like hippies. Could I not look like a hippie?
There are more stories to tell and I’ll get to some of them, but I wanted to tell this (long) story for other quilters out there who might be dreaming of a quilt career but think that it must be out of reach. It really isn’t. You don’t need to enter shows or win big awards or any of that. I’m thrilled to have a book published, of course, but the thing I am most proud of is that I put the book proposal in the mail. Whether it got accepted or not was really out of my hands. Deciding to put in the effort and take the risk was in mine. I’m just here to say: you never know, so why not try?
And, speaking of miniature quilts, come back tomorrow for a look at another spin I’m putting on the Square-in-a-Square foundation.
NaNoWriMo: 53, 232 words Yippie ki-yay!