I had always loved quilts but never knew how to sew, and I really wasn't interested in learning how to sew. I just wanted to make quilts and have quilts.
In 1997, I inquired at the local quilt shop in Cary, NC called Etcetera crafts. They asked me if I could sew a straight line and unfortunately I could not. I went to another local sewing shop called Elegant Stitches who took me by the hand. I took a their basic sewing class and made a pair of shorts and a ladies top. I knew nothing about fabric or sewing. They were both hideous! They also sold me a great Elna sewing machine called the "Quilters Dream". How could I not buy it??
I returned to Etcetera Crafts for my first quilt class. That's when I found out the beginners class was to be done all by HAND! Hand piecing and hand quilting! Were they kidding me? I was not looking for my grandmother's quilting class! But they said it was important to take this class first. Thus, I made my first hideous quilt. It was slow and painful but I was persistent. And glad when it was over.
After the beginner class, I ready to take the intermediate quilting class and could NOT wait use my new machine to piece the quilt together. We were to make a twin size Sampler. Of course it took forever because with each block we were learning something new like applique and sewing curves, etc. BUT I was so excited that instead of just making a twin quilt, I decided to make a humongous queen size quilt. I thought, "What's a few more 12" blocks"? Of course when I made that decision I had NOT considered how the quilt was going to get quilted!
Long story short, I hand quilted the entire thing; borders, sashing, corner squares, and each blocks differently. I even quilted in my initials and the year in the border! That was 1999 and I have never hand quilted anything since. Amen.
Afterwards, I struggled to teach myself how to machine quilt. Although I had my awesome machine, The Quilter's Dream, it was not a dream experience. It was more like a nightmare. At the time, there was not much information available on exactly how to pull off this magical feat called machine quilting. I suffered with every kind of problem. Why did I have puckers on the back?, folds in my fabric?, uneven stitches?, why did my curvy look square? what kind of needle and thread and batting did I need?, and why did my thread keep SHREDDING? My shoulders hurt! UGH. But I learned so much in the process. Again, it was slow and painful, but I was persistent.
Eventually I did improve and starting quilting for other people on my Quilter's Dream. It was fun, but hard work. Then on a whim, I asked for a job longarm quilting at Archangels Fabric quilt shop in Raleigh, NC. I knew nothing about a longarm machine but was dying to find out. They had a Gammill machine with a 14 foot table. It was the best on the job and stressful at the same time. Who wants to mess up someone elses quilt?!?! I jumped in, learning by trying, and flying by the seat of my pants. I worked there part-time for about 3 years until the shop closed. A few years later we moved to Smithfield, NC and I was able to purchase a Handi Quilter longarm machine of MY OWN. I know! Right! Shut the front door! It's been like a dream come true to have this machine at home and be able to quilt for others … and myself of course. Smile.
P.S. I still have The Quilter's Dream and it still runs perfectly.
"There is no GIANT step that does it. It takes a lot of LITTLE steps."
Peter A. Cohen
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