2017 Moda BlockHeads BOW – Block 32

Our favorite day of the week, Wednesday!

Fall is in the air?  It was 82 Sunday, yesterday we had a high of 41, with a chance of frost overnight, Russ picked tomatoes just in case.  Fall really is my most favorite season, but will miss the fresh vegetables of summer.

Question this week . . . When we went from making quilts for self and began doing it as a business, is there anything you wish you’d know ahead of time?  Or, was ignorance truly bliss.  There were many days I wish there had been a handbook . . . in the long run, I’m grateful there wasn’t one.  I was introduced to quiltmaking by Russ’s sister at Thanksgiving dinner in 1979, I thought her blocks were “the most beautiful thing I had ever seen”.

Russ’s sister, who also lives in Nebraska City, took her quilting class in Lincoln, Nebraska, I asked for the name of the lady and phone number, called and signed up for the next ’14 week course’ to make a double bed size sampler quilt, comprised of 12 – 14″ blocks, through which, I learned to hand piece, hand appliqué, and hand quilt in the quilt-as-you-go method popular at the time.  The class began in early January 1980.  I asked my boss (I was the bookkeeper for a car dealership at the time) if I could have Wednesday afternoons off for 14 weeks, and I would work Saturday morning to make up time, surprisingly, he said yes.  Lincoln is 50 miles from Nebraska City. There was a quilt guild in Lincoln that I eventually joined, and there was a very small quilt shop at that time in Lincoln (still open and much larger), finding cotton fabric was the hard part then, and the quality was sadly lacking.  I used to joke that the fabric faded in the sack on the trip home.  I’ve lived 50 miles from a quilt shop all these years, so of course it was logical to me, to build a “fabric collection” as I couldn’t run down and pick up what I needed nearby.  About 2 to 3 years into my quiltmaking, I realized other ladies in Nebraska City and area would probably like to learn to quilt but would not drive the 100 miles round trip to Lincoln or Omaha to learn, so I began teaching quilting in our small living/dining room to a small group of ladies, same premise, 14 weeks and learn these same techniques.  Then with the help of some local ladies we started a local Quilt Guild around the same time.

I was drawn to the antique quilts early on, and because we were making quilts by hand, an quilt show most always had an area of antique quilts on display.  I was totally hooked by the antique quilts, that is where I spent my time at shows, soaking up the colors used, the variety of settings and quilting designs, also loved the quirks that could be found. There were no machine piecing classes then, and I struggled with that part even though I had made clothes since 6 or 7th grade.  Please remember this is before the rotary cutter and other lovely tools we have today.  1/4″ seam was so skinny after 5/8″ seam on clothes. The second class I signed up for, the following year (1981), again in Lincoln was ‘drafting’, because there were very few books and patterns then either.  Jinny Beyer was a large influence in those days, I was able to take a class from her in Fremont, Nebraska, and of course I own her books, they are still great reference today, for skills.  We learned how to break down a block and draft them.  I know this is now foreign and that makes me a dinosaur!   Ha, ha, ha.

By 1985 I began my journey of making ‘new quilts that look olde’ or had vintage appeal, and haven’t looked back.  Through a quirk of life around 1988, I began exhibiting at Folk Art Shows in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New England, selling my small quilts, ornaments, then added framed quilts, and framed quilt prints until around 2002.  I also had a license with a company for about 9 years for framed prints of my quilts.  I started my pattern business in 1995, due to requests from some ladies in Virginia who asked me for patterns, they were quilters and wanted to make what I was making, which eventually led to my first Quilt Market in Charlotte, NC in 1995.  Things overlapped for a few years, then I had to stop making quilts for sale, and then only made quilts for patterns, followed by my first self published book ‘Small Quilts for Framing’ in 2000.

Simply, I would not have had this lovely quiltmaking journey if there had been a handbook for business.

Now, if you are still with me, our block this week is by our friend Betsy Chutchian – Dutchman’s Puzzle, you will find the block directions here: http://betsysbestquiltsandmore.blogspot.com/

Be sure to check our friends Blogs for their versions and tips:

Lynne Hagmeier – http://kansastroublesquilters-lynne.blogspot.com/

Jan Patek – http://janpatek.blogspot.com/

Lisa Bongean – https://lisabongean.com/

Moda Carrie – http://blog.modafabrics.com/

My pressing for this block, and only one clipping in the center –

Block 32, pressing

My block this week!

Block 32

And the link to the permanent page:    http://blog.modafabrics.com/blockheads/

I wish you a wonderful week, enjoy the colors of Fall, mostly Happy Sewing!  Jo

P.S.   I want to share Russ’s comment – “Jo took her first quilting class and hasn’t been home since”.  Kind of true, but after all these years I’m off the road for teaching travels, so I can be on the road enjoying travels with Russ. And, yes, I’ll have handwork with me!


2017 Moda BlockHeads BOW – Block 32 — 4 Comments

  1. If you were here in Lincoln, NE now, I’d hug you. I smiled as I read your reminiscent journey. I literally felt I was reliving my past, with the exception of traveling to shows and classes. I remember stumbling through the transition from calling “material” … fabric! And making a conscious effort to stop calling batting: “wading,” And backing fabric: “outer lining.”

    Saturday viewing of my local PBS channel, was my I learned terms created by two of my favorite tv quilt show hosts, Marianne Fons and Liz Porter. And Georgia Bonesteel’s method of “quilt as you go” was an eye opener and it was the spring board that launched me into making small quilts. You had to love Eleanor Burns’ quaint school teacher mannerisms as she showed us how to make a “quilt in a day”. She gave to me the mental permission that I needed, showing me that it was ok to throw away scraps of fabrics that at the moment, I was sure that I’d never use again; only to kick myself later as I wished I hadn’t been so hasty because I need those remnants to remake a block that was hopelessly ruined while I was trying to master my ruler placement skills.

    Through trial and error, I taught myself how to use the rotary cutters. Specifically, how to accurately read and place the rulers on my fabrics. Staying on task by finding MY sewing machine’s accurate 1/4″ seam line; and positioning my presser foot so my needle was where it needed to be to acheive the necessary uniformity to participate in block exchanges; caused many hair pulling fits of frustration! I felt the technique of accurately placing and reading the lines on my rotary cutting rulers, were locked in some vault somewhere. Because the instructions for accurate placement and reading the lines did not come with the purchase. There was no “Internet” when I started using my budget busting, expensive notions that I guarded with threats of impending doom to anyone who dared to use them.

    Back then, using an antique Singer Featherweight sewing machine was not a high-end quilting tool as it is now. Mine was a cast off from a church’s rummage sale. I’d never caught on to the idea of “scant” and discovered I wasnt the only one. The devil was in the details and my Featherweight’s standard presser foot’s seam edge was, as it still is now, 1/8th of an inch.

    I found myself being so thankful I’d been taught at an early age how much liquid starch needed to be added to my washing machine, because the fabrics back then were so flimsy. I remember the delight I felt when I handled my first “Quilt Shop” fabric. The manufacturers of these fine cotton fabrics were far above the quality of the Five and Dime store’s “calicos.”

    Thank you Jo, for sharing your experiences. You remind those of us who lived and learned during those early years, just how far we’ve come in piecing our patchwork. And we weren’t the only ones who struggled and conquered self-doubt.

  2. Such a similar journey for me, other than teaching and traveling. I’m sure many of your “fans” from the, ahem, mature generation experienced so many of the same joys and frustrations along this path. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Jo, i have loved talking with you at Market and have been following you for years!
    Thank you for all the stories and friendship.

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