Every once in a while, I like to talk about inspiration. Especially what inspires people to take up quilting in the first place. So, I want to share with you how I got started quilting, with a peak at my earliest quilt, and things that keep me inspired. I want to hear from you too! I’ll ask a few questions at the end of this post. Answer them in the comments so I can get to know you, my readers, better. Later in the post, I’ll talk about some of my favorite tools and notions that I can not live without, whether they are for cutting, piecing, stitching or finishing the quilt.
Inspiration to start quilting can come from a lot of sources. A family member who quilts, especially a parent or sibling in the same home, is how many people are inspired. Sometimes it can be a aunt/uncle or grandparent that you visited often when growing up. And, of course, there are your friends! My grandmother was an avid quilter, but she was several states away and we saw her maybe 2 times a year. Also, she passed away when I was 9 years old, so I did not have a lot of time with her. My sisters had no interest in sewing and my mom could barely hem a pair of pants! LOL!
So how did I get the quilting bug? I actually decided to quilt because I was looking for something to do as a newly wed while my husband played league softball. I saw a catalog from the local community college advertising an adult education quilting class. So I said “why not?”. The fact that I chose a very difficult pattern (LeMoyne Star and a variation) and a queen size quilt did not stop me. The fact that it was all by hand almost did. Here it is (with Addie as a model!)
Those colors! I definitely have evolved when it comes to picking fabrics for my quilts. The quilt is my first one, so I can’t bring myself to ever give it up no matter how ugly I think it is today. Addie seems to like it…..
Like I said above, you’d think I would want to quit after that class. However, after making this quilt I was hooked…. and I also went out and bought a sewing machine so I would never have to hand piece again!
What inspires me today is the large variety of beautiful Civil War reproduction fabrics and paging through books of antique quilts. That fabric is my favorite to use and when I find a new line, it inspires me even more. The antique quilts I find in the books often have many traditional blocks like Log Cabin or Evening Star. I love looking at these books and dreaming up ways I can put a new “spin” on these blocks.
My Favorite Quilting Techniques
Since I never wanted to hand piece again, you will find it funny that my favorite quilting techniques are needle-turn hand applique and wool applique on a fabric background! I took a class early on in hand applique and loved doing it. Several years ago, I experimented with my first wool applique on fabric pattern and fell in love with that too. Over the years I have added applique to many of my quilts because I thought it added a unique “flair”. I have also designed many mini wool applique projects too. Here’s some of my favorite current applique projects:
Wildflower Lane (left) was inspired by hanging flower baskets. One of my favorite inspirations to build off of are traditional quilt blocks. I put the Log Cabin blocks on point to look like baskets and filled them with flowers. On the right is Rail Fence Blooms. Another traditional design, the Rail Fence block, inspired this design. I decided to create a star design using Rail Fence units and have the flowers “bloom” from the star.
And then there’s wool applique…. I think I like this technique the most because of the ease of appliqueing wool (no turn under) and the dimension it adds to a quilt top. Here’s two of my newest fun minis that I am sure you have seen. I keep the background simple so the design shines.
These mini patterns, I call them Snugg-lets, are so much fun! I’ve also added wool applique to more traditional pieces like the table topper and runner in my newest pattern, Spinning Spools:
See how both types of applique add so much to simple piecing? That’s what I love about it. If you want to do the fabric applique by machine because you find it easier, it will look just as beautiful.
The Tools (or Notions) I Can’t Live Without
The first of my favorite notions is Roxanne Glue Baste-it.
With how much I applique, this has saved my finger tips. When I first started appliqueing, I had to anchor my applique pieces with pins. I can’t count how many times I poked my fingers as I was stitching down a piece. When this glue came on the market, I was thrilled when I gave it a try. Small dots on the back of my applique piece secured it in place allowing me to stitch with out finger pokes or, Yikes!… blood on the project!
My second favorite tool is the Quilt in a Day Triangle Square-up Ruler.
I love to include half-square triangle squares in patterns …. some have a lot! This ruler makes it so much easier to trim these units to size. You trim before pressing them open so you only have to make two cuts to trim up all four sides instead of trimming the four sides separately!
Finally, the O’lipfa Safety Shield for rulers used in rotary cutting. I had a cutting accident about 5 years ago and lost a tiny tip of my finger. Let me tell you, I do not want to do that again. So, I purchased these safety shields and attached them to all my rulers!
The shield only comes in a 22″ long size for the big ruler, so I bought two. One for the big ruler and one that my husband cut down into smaller pieces to fit my smaller rulers. If you don’t have a saw available at home to cut them, it’s possible your local hardware store will do it for you. These shields stick to the top of the ruler on the edge and are clear so you can still see the lines. They keep the rotary cutter from skipping over the ruler’s edge and hitting your hand.
So, that’s my story, what is yours? Answer these three questions (below) in the comments and you will be entered into the drawing for my newest pattern, Spinning Spools (see above)!
- What inspired you to quilt
- What is your favorite quilt technique
- What is the tool or notion you can’t live without
The drawing will be on Monday, July 5th to give everyone time to answer! Good luck! **We have a winner! Congrats, Kathleen!**