I’ve been fortunate to have access to a sewing machine all my life starting with my great grandmother’s treadle. When I was 6 yrs old I received a chain stitching Sewhandy Singer sewing machine for Christmas and proceeded to sew clothes for my dolls and my baby sister (that’s my friend Flat Stanley visiting my collection of sewing machines.) The machine came with an instruction book “Things for Little Girls to Sew.” Here’s an excerpt “This is a real sewing machine –not a toy. It is portable. You can use it in so many places on your own play table or desk, on the breakfast table, or on the leaf of your Mother’s sewing machine. You’ll want to take it with you on vacations with your family, and on weekend visits with your friends.” The copyright is 1961. Heck they were even instructing how to do French Seams! And as I write this I am laughing because it sounds sooo like how I’ve felt about my sewing machine ever since I started quilting!
Given my background education in textiles over the years I’ve come to consider myself a traditionalist when it came to sewing clothing or making quilts. There was always a pattern involved, whether I made it myself or purchased it. I have made a couple of improvisational quilts without really knowing that’s what I was doing. The first one was made in 2003 when I made a memory quilt for my oldest son’s graduation. I wanted to incorporate fabric photos with fabric scraps from the clothing I’d made him through the years. It was definitely assembled in an improvised way, adding fabric here and there to make it “work.”
I still had not stepped into the world of “Modern Quilting” until very recently. Joan had asked me to piece a modern quilt for her so that she could take a class on quilting negative space.
The quilt to the left was designed by Angela Walters from http://www.quiltingismytherapy.com/my-blog/ Doing this quilt was a challenge as the actual cover photo was different from the quilt pattern instructions. BUT it also inspired me to get right back in there and design one of my own! I’ve had an interest in converting my ocean/landscape photographs into quilts for sometime but have yet to do so. I have side stepped the original plan of using applique and have attempted to convert using modern techniques.
The quilt to the right is my interpretation of the Neptune Ice Plant in Ucluelet. It was a very interesting and liberating exercise. Lot’s of piecing and cutting and “no, don’t like that” and replacing it with something else. It was definitely thinking outside the box for me and what I liked most was adding something to the design wall and leaving it there for awhile before actually deciding whether or not it worked. I’ve got an idea of how I want it quilted and can’t wait to see it finished. Hopefully it’ll be the first of many!
In the mean time I have some French Seams to do as I make costumes for my grandsons’ Christmas presents. See, it does pay to know how to do things in a traditional fashion!
Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye