My First: A Quilt Story

Some of my amazing readers have asked to see my first quilt. I’m terrified to share this with you. I haven’t always been a quilter. I actually started 10 years ago this year. I can’t share the quilt without the story behind it.

In the summer of 2001, I came home from college. I had been surrounded by teenage freshmen and found myself 2000 miles away from my closest friends in a wilderness of ‘grown ups’. I couldn’t believe how lonely I was. And then a recent graduate of my university showed up at church and asked me out. I said yes. We fell in love. He became my first serious boyfriend. I traveled back to school in the fall, and from a distance, my first love wasn’t as perfect. But I still loved him. We talked on the phone every day. He replaced all of my closest friends. I turned 19. He turned 28.
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I knew in my heart he was not right for me. On the night he planned to propose, I broke it off. It was the hardest decision of my life, and also the best. I was broken-hearted. My parents supported me, but suggested perhaps he would take me back. Maybe I made a mistake.
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I felt like I needed to make something to fix what I had broken. I cut up some of my jeans that I had worn while we dated. I found white and red bandana in my mom’s stash. I pulled out my Grandma’s old singer and I set to work. I sewed like my fingers were on fire and I cried. A lot.
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The quilting is full of puckers, bunches, and birdsnests. I had never heard of making a half square triangle from two squares, so I sewed a lot of bias pieces. My points are no where near matching up. I didn’t know to bind quilts, so it is simply a pillowcase turned inside out. It has two layers of poofy poly batting inside. Cotton what?
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And when I was done, I felt better. Not whole yet, but better. And when I went back to school for the next semester, I had a nice boy waiting on my doorstep. I wish I could thank him and apologize to him. He picked up a lot of broken pieces. He dealt with a lot of sh*t from me. And he and I parted with me being a bit more ready to face the world.

And now I quilt because I can. I enjoy it. I love challenging myself. It is a place I can be fearless. It still gives me a huge feeling of accomplishment to finish a quilt. Sewing on those last few inches of binding is my happy place. I am reminded that I am worth something. That I can be something more than I am, as long as I keep trying.

So, why did you start quilting? Do you have a story? I would love to hear it. I’d love to have a link up party, if anyone is interested, maybe starting next Monday? You can share your first quilt and the story. I have a few things in my shop that I think could find their way to a new home via a giveaway, if anyone is interested. Just leave me a little note in the comments, if you have a story to share. I read every one and try to respond in the evenings when my beautiful children are tucked in and my husband and I have a bit of quiet. A husband I cherish. Children I am absolutely in love with. And in a strange way, I might have neither if I hadn’t started my first quilt.
Birth Announcement

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13 Responses to My First: A Quilt Story

  1. 1
    Elnora says:

    What a beautiful story! Brought tears to my eyes… And the portrait of you and your family is gorgeous.

    Why do I quilt? Because I always need some form of creative expression, and I stumbled onto quilting something like a year ago. It relaxes me and makes me very happy, especially with support from the wonderful online sewing community. I spend a lot of time caring for an elderly family member who has dementia, and sewing is my “escape” from those concerns.

  2. 2

    Lovely story! I started quilting because I was a newly single mom and the only channel I got was PBS that showed Eleanor Burns Quilt in a Day. I had scraps and I had my grandmother’s machine and like you my first quilt was all “wrong” …triangles made from cardboard and puckered quilting. Happily I got better as did life and in a way that first quilt was only made to help me cope… Now I make quilts to give comfort to others and yes they still comfort me :o)

  3. 3
    Mary Ann Harpe says:

    I broke the pole in my clothe closet twice. My dad suggested I sew something besides clothes! It was around the bicentennial and the quilting revival, so I started. No rotary cutters, no books, hardly any cotton fabrics, machine quilting- never heard of it. Now look at us all!

  4. 4
    mary says:

    Often the stories behind the quilt make a quilt even more amazing – thanks for sharing.
    I think I would have to look deep inside myself for the story behind my quilts and I’m not sure I would be able to put into words some of those stories right now, one day maybe.

  5. 5

    My goodness, Amanda, you made me cry. I had to break off an engagement about two months after he proposed. His personality took a dark 180 degree turn after the ring was on my finger, and I couldn’t go through with it, but I thought my life was over when I made that decision. Now here I am approaching seven years of marriage with the most funny, gentle man I’ve ever known, even after the craziness of having three children together. God really knows what He’s doing even when I don’t see how things are going to work out…

    I’d love to join your linky party with my first quilt. Looking forward to it!

  6. 6
    gina f. says:

    what a great story!! Part of the reason i love quilts is the stories behind them and history in the fabrics they are made of. When looking at vintage quilts (or any quilt really) i may secretly wish they could talk!! Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. 7
    Lara says:

    Thanks for sharing :) I think all quilts are born of something. I would be happy to post my story too if you host a link party :)

  8. 8

    What a thoughtful story.
    I quilt because I love the joy it brings when I give them away. Sometimes there is a recipient in mind when I start, sometimes things just happen while I’m working on the quilt. While sometimes I decide that the best person for the quilt is me, most often they end up on someone else’s bed.

  9. 9
    Alyssa says:

    What a wonderful story, Im so glad you shared! I still get those darn birdsnests haha Was the denim hard to sew through? I am all in to share and i can’t wait to read others stories as well :)

  10. 10
    Pamela says:

    What a sweet story. I didn’t learn how to quilt until later in life. I had been dreaming about quilting for a couple of years, then my Dad died four years ago. I decided to take the plunge and learn how to quilt after that. I signed up for my first class and hated it. I didn’t give up!!! I drove 740 miles to my Sisters house who had been quilting for over 23 years. She decided to teach me and called it quilt boot camp. Also, my Sister and Mom surprised me with a new Janome sewing machine as an early Birthday present. I have been quilting ever since and love it!!!! I still go as often as I can for more “quilt boot camps”. It’s a great bonding time for my Sister and me.

    Also, I would like to say I love your style of writing!!!!

  11. 11
    Mindy says:

    Aw, thanks so much for sharing this. It was very brave of you! I didn’t mean to push you outside your comfort zone by any means when I asked about your first quilt, but thank you for sharing anyway. I find the reasons people choose certain hobbies is fascinating. As I had mentioned, I’m quite new to quilting, and haven’t yet completed my first one, but my mom helped me cut a bunch of squares for the one I’m sewing together now, two years ago. She passed away in February, and to pick up those squares last week and think about her fingers touching the same fabric brought her presence back to me for a little while. I even talked outloud, like she was sitting with me, while I sewed a little. So now I know I need to finish it, because she helped me start it. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I can’t wait for it to be finished. I sew because I enjoy it, but now I find I do it to remember.

    thanks again, it’s an awesome quilt for being your first one! Wow!

  12. 12
    DeLos Biddle says:

    Thanks for all the people stories about their quilting. Here is mine. Used to be a carpenter, quit climbing ladders when I was 75, bought a long arm quilter and a embroiderer machine. Bought some fabric and some batting. Took it to a quilt shop and asked the owner if she wanted to see an ugly quilt ? She said,” There is no such thing.” I said, “Oh, just like highschool girls, no ugly ones.”We are still friends. I found a women whogathers fabric in 3 counties and has a double garage of it and she gives it away. Have not had to buy any fabric since I met her. That was 10 or 11 years ago. I have kept 3 or 4 quilts and gave the rest of them away. Just today I finished my 900th quilt. Just wanted to say.

  13. 13
    Sarah says:

    That is a great reason to make a quilt! The process of working with our hands and distracting from our thoughts really can help us. Thank you for sharing. I too started quilting in 2001. I was 24 and had been married for 6 months and in my first year of my career as a teacher. I needed a hobby. Something to get me away from spending all my energy on work, and to fill the void created by no longer having to plan a wedding. 11 years, 3 kids, another degree, major career changes and moving our life across the state we are still together and I’m still quilting! I would love the chance to win some fabric!