I made my first quilt over 40 years ago. I was just a baby! My folks had bought a small cabin in Northern Michigan (very common for Michiganders) and I wanted to make them a housewarming present. What would be better than a quilt made of flannel for a cabin in the woods?
Never having made a quilt or hardly even done much sewing, I have no clue why I thought I could do this. In any event, I took a trip to the local fabric store and bought yards of flannel (I don’t remember how many). With a 12 inch wood ruler left over from my school days and a pair of scissors, I proceeded to cut many, many 4 inch squares. I sewed them together, one at a time (didn’t know what chain sewing was), and made a large quilt top.
I knew from owning a quilt on my own bed that I needed backing, so I bought a bed sheet. My local retail chain store had batting – bought the only kind they had – which was very thick polyester. I put the layers together, and with some yarn I had around the house and with a large-eyed needle, I threaded the yarn through them. I tacked each corner of each 4 inch square with the yarn, running the needle through the sheet, the batting, and out the top. I tied several knots and cut the ends to about 1/2 inch.
That weekend, I drove to my folks cabin and presented them with something I thought they would cherish and appreciate for many years. They were impressed with my talent. On Sunday evening, I headed back to my home – about a two hour drive south.
A couple months’ later, I decided to visit my folks again in their cabin. When I walked into the small little home, I looked around for my quilt knowing it would be in a place of honor.
Just to take a side trip here…my folks had a 50 pound dog named Foo Foo. This cabin was on a river and Foo loved to swim in the river. My family are all animal lovers and my folks let the dog run in and out of the river and in and out of the house. In retrospect, I think the dog loved the cabin more than anyone! Anyway, back to the visit…
When I walked into the cabin, there was my quilt in the dog’s bed. The dog had joined me when I entered the home and proceeded to run to her bed, roll around on the quilt, scratch at it finding the perfect spot to lie down. I stood in shock! As I stared at the dog’s happiness, I remembered the rule of gift giving; a gift is given. The recipient can return it, regift it, and do whatever they want with it because it is theirs. The joy of gift giving is in the ‘giving’. I took a deep breath, greeted my folks, and… well, that was my first quilt. Forty years later, I am a better quilter. I have all the right tools, and in spite of the traumatic event, still give quilts away.
As we spend hours making a quilt for someone else, the joy for us, the quilters, is in the buying of fabric (the best), making the quilt, and then watching the joy on the faces of those we have given this labor of love to. I know my first quilt was loved – even if only by the dog! If you have a ‘first quilt story’, please share it.