I often say I began quilting in 2001. The timeline coincides with the purchase of a new sewing machine, one that included a computerized embroidery system. My sister had been urging me to try quilting for a couple of years so without knowing what I was doing I dove in and made a baby quilt for a newborn great nephew, using embroidered bugs and reptiles as a main feature.
But when I really look back at my sewing history there is an earlier quilt I made. In 1978 during my first long winter in Vermont, I took my love of hand embroidery and integrated that into a small baby quilt for my first son. It wasn’t finished before he was born, and once done it was rarely used. My husband and brother-in-law even made a rudimentary but very functional quilting frame for me. I’ve moved that frame many times as my sewing space initially occupied a laundry area, then an attic, followed by a spare bedroom, and eventually a series of three different dedicated sewing/quilting rooms. I’ve learned a lot in the intervening years – from the time of the first first quilt, to the second first quilt, to what I’m working on now.
Sometimes people who don’t quilt tell me they’d like to do so. My answer is always the same, “If you can sew and read, you can quilt.” I do believe those are the basic skills. The rest is pretty much tenacity and patience. And maybe in the beginning it is okay to not know too much, and follow a piece of advice that I once read, and still sometimes tell myself, “Do it first, learn how second.”