Nowadays I'm a much more selective shopper and invest in interesting variegated threads, yarns, all sorts of beads, cords and presser feet for my sewing machine. It is amazing how the appropriate foot for a specific technique can make creative stitching so much easier with wonderful results. I buy fabric very selectively as I always dip into my brush rags stock, the privilege of my own range of painted fabrics. My stash is relatively small compared to some serious fabric collectors....!
At our monthly Guild meeting yesterday, prize winners from our Guild at previous National Quilt Festivals were asked to bring their winning quilts along for a special display. As I unearthed quilts from the cupboard, took others off the walls in our home and brushed the dust from the prized rosettes, I realized once again how blessed I've been (and still am). I've had this incredible journey as a quilter and the judges have always been very kind to me. As we hung some of my quilts yesterday, I deliberately hung them from the oldest to the latest.... Discerning eyes would immediately see the progress in my technical and design skills and I hoped that it would be encouraging to newer quilters. The oldest one was my first protea quilt, African Heritage (see post 1994 - A Memorable Year) made in 1994, exactly 20 years ago. It was my first entry into a National Quilt Festival in South Africa and for many years hung in the entrance halls of our homes. It looks a bit faded and not fresh anymore, but will always be an affirmation to me that anything is possible if one tries hard enough and that one should not be afraid to follow your own path. In retrospect, sections of that quilt now looks a bit ugly to me, but it remains special. For me it is a reminder of where I came from in my quilting journey, very unsure in where the journey would take me, but patiently doing battle with my ideas and limited technical skills. I now see the mistakes which taught me to find better ways and do things differently - a constant reminder that it is natural to crawl before you can walk or start running...
I've been toying with the idea of sharing the the story of my first creative wallhanging which I made for Elizabeth's room in 1985, she was 2 1/2 years old at the time - I was so proud of this piece! Any way, in 1985 we did not have all this lovely quilting products available to make life easier that we have today... I did not have applique paper (or know about it) to fuse the motifs to the background! I tacked every motif to the background by hand using little bits of leftover threads to empty the reels in a variety of colours. I also started the tacking with big, fat knots!!! It took me days to finish the satin stitching and oh dear, then realized that not all the tacking was covered with the stitching... I spent many hours with the tweezers pulling all the tacking out, but it was a good lesson learnt! I also decided that it was not necessary to quilt it - maybe I was in a hurry to start another project... But I actually think I did not have the skill to quilt it - at the time I only knew how to quilt in the ditch with crochet thread! I did not even know quilting thread existed, neither finishing off a quilt with a binding or that a sleeve was needed at the back to hang a quilt from...!
Elizabeth's farm quilt made in 1985
Nowadays quilters see the likes of me and see prize winning quilts and the accolades... They feel intimidated by the "name" and the standard of the work on display, the same as I felt 20 - 30 years ago in the presence of the top quilters in South Africa .... My reason for sharing the story of my first wallhanging? It is a reminder that some time ago, I knew just about nothing about quilting! This piece was also my tentative baby steps in designing my own quilts. But with spending many hours behind my sewing machine, I somehow got better at it...!
As South Africa's famous golfer Gary Player said: "the more I practice, the better I get...!"