Week 3 of the second school term for the year has just passed. Only 7 more weeks till the next holiday break. Am I counting? Indeed! The next term break (in July) will be three lovely winter weeks , and winter time is so precious to me living here in the tropics because actual hand-quilting becomes a reality.
Since 2005 when I first picked up quilting and embroidery, I have loved to quilt by hand, and my first few quilts were all made that way - my first quilt top was even hand pieced as I did not have a sewing machine.
This is the quilt below...
All those tiny pieces stitched by hand over a few weeks while we lived in a tiny cabin in an Armidale caravan park. It was winter and the overnight temperature would drop to -17C. There was no insulation in that cabin so we would chip the ice off the inside walls every morning, and wait till after 10am for the water in the pipes to thaw enough that we could have showers and cook.
My husband had taken a casual 6 month teaching position in the town so we had sold half of what we owned, put the rest in storage, and moved across the state to set up a temporary home in a tiny masonite cabin. We were homeschoolers and whilst my husband was teaching the children and I set about making friends with some other local homeschoolers. One of them had two daughters who could quilt and after I admired their work I was given some quilting magazines to read through during the cold winter nights when our little family group snuggled up in the cabin beds to keep our toes from dropping off.
I took to those magazines with delight, and decided to give a small quilt block a try. It was a bears paw, with many tiny pieces for me to hand stitch together. I was cutting every piece with scissors and measuring with my son's wooden ruler. It was so hard, but I persevered.
My husband saw that I seriously enjoyed this new form of sewing, so on the next weekend he drove me down to Tamworth and I bought my very first rotary cutter, self healing mat, and ruler. I also bought some cheap fat quarters and embroidery threads because I intended to teach myself to embroider.
So the quilt above was my 'learner' piece, and within a few weeks I had moved on to applique and embroidery and finished this table centre. It is also completely made by hand, and to this day remains the most favourite project I have ever made...
I began sewing in August 2005, and in October my husband surprised me with a sewing machine! We moved to a slightly larger cabin for our last 3 months in Armidale and I would sew on a small round glass table after I had finished the lessons with the children for the day. By the end of October I had completed this quilt for our bed (this photo was taken when we finally moved to a house in early 2006)...
...and by year's end the number of projects were in high double digits. I was giving away gifts on a weekly basis because I wanted to sew but had nowhere to store everything I had made.
For Christmas 2005 I made Blossom this quilt...
...and this one for Sam.
As the months rolled by and we moved into a house, more quilts were made for my older children and my grandsons, and new babies of friends...
There are now many more quilts made, but these ones heralded the beginning of my love for quilting, sewing and embroidery. Sorry about the photo quality but some of these are photos taken at a time when I wasn't so computer savvy with a camera. :-)
I am sharing these photos and a little of my story today to encourage those of you who are just starting out and doubting your ability to take the next step. I started with scissors, a wooden school ruler, a pencil, and some scraps of fabric found at an op-shop. I wanted to give it a go and used all I had available.
I knew within a day that this was something I would do always, and so as the months and years passed I honed my skills and asked lots of questions of experienced quilters. It wasn't until early 2009 that I took a leap and decided to give design a try, and from that point Elefantz evolved to where it is today.
Be encouraged. We all start at the beginning.
If you have any questions about this craft please leave a comment and ask me. I'm going to do what I can to answer your questions in the coming months - all part of that new direction for Elefantz later in 2011.
Have a lovely weekend! Mr E is taking me riding today up along the mountain range to a special place for lunch. :-)