Sunday, December 28, 2014

Getting Started

I've been toying with the idea of a quilting blog for years, but as I'm generally the last person to jump on any band wagon, it's taken me some time.  Many friends at the quilting forum (my only quilting guild) have encouraged me to document my various I spy/novelty quilts.  I am now bowing to that suggestion.

Introduction:  I am a 50 something quilter living in North Texas, originally from Southern New Mexico.  I've been sewing since I was 6 or 7 when my mother got tired of me pestering her to make Barbie doll clothes.  In high school and college I made theater costumes and some of my own clothes, later I saved money by sewing curtains and baby clothes for my daughter.  I only tried quilting once during that time after ordering a quilting book from a crafters book club.  No where did the book warn me to start small.  Sooo after struggling to hand quilt a king size quilt for months and months, I packed it away and swore I didn't like quilting.  SEVERAL years later some ladies at our church got together to make lap quilts for shut-in church members.  They asked for volunteers who could sew.  I could sew and it sounded fun.  I went and had a blast.  The quilts were small, quick, easy and FUN.  Working in a group as fun.  I was hooked.  This was December 2000. 

In the intervening years since I had last tried quilt making,  rotary cutting & speed piecing techniques had been introduced. I purchased an introduction to quilting book by Fons and Porter, read the advice to start small, and was on my way.  I made a small wall House wall hanging which hangs lopsided and is very puffy.  But it was fun and done - yahoo. 
Beginner Houses
I then decided to make my daughter a sampler out of bright and black fabrics after she saw the raffle quilt at the 2001 Dallas quilt show (and was disappointed she didn't win it).  Yikes, a seriously more challenging project but I still enjoyed it.  Samplers are great.  If you hate one block, you fortunately only have to do one block.  And she loved it. By the way, this quilt was only possible thanks to Electric Quilt and it's block library.  Unfortunately the block library didn't come with instructions on how to construct the blocks.  That's how I discovered the quilt forum.  (I love you ladies!)

Bright Sampler
Moving on.  When the sampler for my daughter was done of course I wanted to make my son a quilt too.  I had seen a one at the Dallas show made from picture or novelty fabrics and since he was 5 at the time that sounded perfect.  I headed back to the quilt forum and asked there if anyone would swap novelty squares with me.  Several ladies did and thus my first I spy quilt was born:

As you can see, I had no trouble collecting many many fabrics.  I made the quilt using the attic window block and a Y-seam construction method (and polyester solids - mmmm).  Yup, leave it to me to pick a difficult method right at the start.  Ah well, later versions used a simpler method - more on that down the road.  My son loved the quilt (and still does at 18).  I finished it right before Christmas and we took it to see the grandparents in New Mexico.  While there I developed pneumonia.  The quilt provided some much needed comfort and distraction for my kids while I was hospitalized for several days during Christmas that year.  Another thing about quilts - they hold memories.  Memories about when you were sewing them (this one in the aftermath of 9/11) and memories they were used.  I remember when I had pneumonia because I know when I made this quilt.

There was another side effect of this quilt.  I had spent so many weeks (months?) collecting those little squares of fabric, not only did I have a bunch left over, I had difficulty not continuing to look.  Have you noticed that about searching and collecting?  It's hard to stop.  At least for me.  I kept finding more and more cute fabrics.  What to do? I also wanted to try other quilt patterns as I was expanding my quilt-making skills. 

The obvious solution? Combine the two goals.  This resulted in a long and wonderful journey over the last 14 years of "collecting" patterns and fabrics.  Some patterns have worked better than others with novelty fabrics.  Some I've repeated.  But for the most part I keep trying new patterns and always seem to have new ideas.  Many friends at the quilt forum frequently suggest possibilities for me as I've developed the reputation as the I spy Queen over there.  I keep an eye out for patterns at quilt shows, in magazines and catalogs that lend themselves to showcasing novelty fabrics. Since I give all these I spy quilts away as gifts (dear son doesn't need 80+ quilts),  I've kept a scrap book, including the thank you notes and pictures of the kids who received them.  I drag out the book and refer to it frequently.  But it's in two binders now, big and heavy, and I only included a few pattern notes or photos of where I got the ideas.  The intended purpose of this blog is to better document that journey (as best I can remember it) and share with those who might enjoy it.

No promises about the frequency of posts.  Few will be a wordy as this one.  I promise.


  1. oh, Dee ... I'm so glad you're going to document your quilts here! With the computer, it's so *easy* to jot down every little thought that comes mind and all those thoughts are important to the quilt! You are creating the history of the quilt and you sure don't want to leave anything out. :-)

    I urge you to be as wordy as you want. Lord knows *I* am. :-)

    And pictures. LOTS of pictures! Take more than you think you'll ever need or want. Just like with fabric selections, more is better. Once you give the quilt away, you won't have any more opportunities for pictures.

    THEN ... it's just a matter of printing out your blog page for your binder! and attaching all the fabric samples, like the current pages have. You *might* find it easier to include all the pertinent information if you make a master template first and then fill in the template with all the specific information for that quilt. Some subjects can be constant but the journaling for the quilt will be unique for each one.

    Good luck! :-)

    1. Thanks Shelley. Your wonderful documentation is my inspiration

  2. You have the knack of writing well, Dee, so you are on your way.

    It will be great to see all of your novelty quilts in one place so I'll be keeping an eye on your progress. No, that is not a threat, just trying to be an enabler, as usual. :-) Best wishes on this new adventure.

    1. Thanks Judy. I need to decide how much of this is going to be "history" and how much to be current. I do want to go back and rediscover what I've previously done. but I have a feeling that's going to get old. We'll see what direction this goes.

  3. Welcome to the blogging world!

    1. waving Hi to Suze in CA. Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. Great first post - it felt like I have the inside scoop now. It will be great to see all of your wonderful I Spy quilts in one place. Welcome to blogging!

  5. thanks Linda. I'm having fun so far. I didn't realize how much I had to say. Glad to have my friends reading along.

  6. Awesome to see you started a blog! It is such a nice way to document things. Every once in awhile I will read my past posts to see what I have done and it is a great form of a quilting diary. I do have to say you really have honed the "I Spy" and truly deserve the title bestowed on you of "I Spy Queen". You have really found an incredible nitch and I am a great fan of your work.

    On the polyester..............I am not sure what happened during the 80's and the 90's but all of a sudden there were "rules" about what was correct to use in quilting. I am the proud owner of a beautiful top made of very bright and colorful double knit fabrics from the 60's and 70's made my my aunt in law. I recently saw the quilts made my my cousin in law and her female relatives and they did not use quilting cottons for the beautiful quilts they made in the 50's, 60's and 70's. Be proud of you polyester quilt as it truly has a place in quilting history and really use whatever fabric (or materials) you enjoy in your creative process.