First Quilt

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Second First Quilt

Second First Quilt 

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.

First First Quilt

First First Quilt

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.”

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Imelda’s Closet

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I don’t pretend to know what drives women’s interest in shoes. But I do know that it is pretty universal. I’ve been in meetings with women who dress casually and don’t pay much attention to things like make-up or the latest fashions and yet these women will admire another woman’s shoes with genuine interest and enthusiasm. I’ve had strangers (women) come up to me and comment on my shoes (a particular pair seems to garner this special recognition), and as a child my sisters and I loved to wear our grandmother’s shoes. Most women I know rein in this shoe obsession, balancing it with budgets and practicality.

Several years ago when I found these embroidery designs online I knew I wanted to use them in a quilt that was a little tongue-in-check nod to women’s love of shoes. Thus was born the idea for Imelda’s Closet. As you may remember, Imelda Marcos is the former first lady of the Philippines who had amassed 3000 pairs of shoes.

Imelda's ClosetI wanted to construct something that looked like a closet, with each shoe having a match so that there were pairs rather than single shoes. I wanted the colors to be bright, in shades that wouldn’t be part of a mundane wardrobe. I also wanted some kind of border that gave a tropical feel. But I didn’t want it to be too tidy. The off-kilter boxes, in a crazy quilt style, worked for this effect. The back fabric features clothes.

When I worked in higher education I had this quilt hanging in my office for several years and it always generated conversation – mostly about why so many women love shoes!