The first quilt I ever made was back in high school, meaning it was a very, very long time ago…. It was my senior year and I was taking a sewing class. I don’t really remember how I got the idea to make the quilt but somehow I figured it out and decided to make it with log cabin blocks. I knew next to nothing about quilting and didn’t really ask anyone how to do it. I was just winging it. Looking at the quilt now, this is painfully apparent!
I chose to use blues and browns for the color schemes. I didn’t know that it would be best to use fabrics that were all one weight. Instead, I chose cottons of all sorts, mainly based on whether I liked the colors and patterns. Unfortunately, I used some very thin, lightweight cottons. Over the years, these wore out quickly. To make each block I used a sort of quilt-as-you-go method that I made up. (Not like I invented it but I had no instruction so I had to figure this out on my own.) I cut a block of muslin as a backing and centered a small square on it. Then I created each block by sewing strips around and around that center block. This was a huge project at the time. I decided to make the quilt for a queen sized bed. If I was going to make it, I wanted to be able to use it for a long time. After weeks and weeks, I finished all of the squares. I sewed them together and, not surprisingly, my corners didn’t match. At the time, I wasn’t really aware that they should. Blissful ignorance!
This was back in 1978 and the batting that I was familiar with was mainly fluffy polyester. My Grandma Josie was looking at my quilt top and told me I should fill it with a blanket so it would be warmer. Once again, I didn’t know any better! She gave me a huge and extremely heavy wool blanket. Ever obedient, I used this as the filling of my quilt. I used a (very) thin muslin as the backing. All together this quilt weighed about twenty pounds. Definitely warm and with the wool blanket in the middle, not easily washable! I had no idea about machine quilting, the only thing I had heard of was tying it. So I tied it with yarn at each corner of the squares, nothing in the centers. It was so heavy and the muslin so thin that the yarn ties broke free from the muslin. Really the backing floated freely and the quilt top was tied to that oh-so-heavy woolen blanket!
I loved this quilt and used it for years. I even took it to college with me. A queen sized, woolen filled, heavy-as-lead quilt to college on the central coast of California. The weather is usually in the 70’s there so you can bet I was nice and warm at night. Plus, I had to fold the quilt to fit it on my single size bed in the dorms. Doubly warm! After college it was our quilt in my first home when I got married. Here is my first baby snuggled into the quilt when he was just a few weeks old. So, circa 1985. Clearly this was taken before moms were taught to put their babies to sleep on their backs. This poor little guy is face down, on a quilt, and….. on a waterbed. Yikes!! But just look at him….. so sweet.
The next baby came along in 1987 and yep, still face down but on a regular mattress by now. This quilt was so loved.
Over the years, the quilt has completely worn out. I am now taking it apart so I can try to restore it. I removed the ties and that weighty woolen blanket and I can now work on the top. I think I will be able to replace some of the frayed strips. I will find some neutral fabrics that looks relatively similar. I am going to have to fuse the strips in place and applique the edges. Then I plan to create a new backing and use cotton batting in between. I will machine quilt the top pretty tightly so that the worn strips will be held in place. Can’t wait to give it a makeover!
With the scraps from the log cabin quilt I also made a tiny log cabin quilt for my babies to use. I loved that it matched our quilt. When each of my boys were newborns they used the quilt while they were still cozied up in the cradle that my father made. This quilt was filled with a puffy, poly batting and then stitched in the ditch for quilting. No binding – I didn’t know about these details. I just made it “envelope” style, sewing it right sides together and then flipping it right sides out.
After the first quilt, I made two more simple patchwork quilts in the late 1970’s. These were filled with a poly batting and hand tied with yarn. Both have worn out completely. I wish I had pictures of them. Fast forward 35 years and I am, once again, happily immersed in this quilting hobby of mine.