Lately I have been thinking of the word "practice." A person recently asked me how I became so good at quilting....and, well.....believing that the more you do something, the better you get....I think I can say practicing makes you a better quilter. There are other factors that enter into it....but, yes, I think practicing is a big deal. I remember when I made this quilt. "Made" may not be the right word here...as you can see, I didn't piece this quilt. It is one length of fabric, printed in this Double Wedding Ring pattern. And, as you will see further down....it was quilted in 1981.
That's the year we moved here to Arkansas. I remember seeing this fabric in the store and immediately thought it would be a good piece to quilt FOR PRACTICE. At that time, I had only been quilting for three years and wanted to improve my skills. Especially, the actual quilting stitches.
As you can see....I only quilted in the blank areas, not on the actual 'pieces' of the pattern. It made sense to me at the time. I began quilting each "ring" a quarter inch or so from each of the pieced parts....and worked my way to the middle of that ring. It was fun.
Here you can see the whole back of the quilt. Actually, looking at the back of any quilt will give you a pretty good idea of the skill of the quiltmaker.....sometimes the pattern shows up so much better on the back. At least, I've always thought so. When I quilted this piece....well, I had no real goal except to practice those stitches. Stitching one stitch at a time had already become my method of choice, and this quilt does have lots of stitches, making it a really good thing for me to do. Yes, I could have just made another quilt...that qualifies for practice. For each one you make, you should see improvement in whatever techniques you are using, but especially the quilting. But for me, then, being able to practice without making a whole new quilt, was a really good idea.
In this photo, you can see a darker strip of fabric there on the left side. That is a hanging sleeve. I don't even remember why I used this darker strip....at the time, it never occurred to me that this quilt would be one I actually would keep so long...or even hang, for that matter. So, here we are thirty-seven years later....and I still have it. Actually, I'll be seventy-four next month, so this quilt has been with me now for approximately HALF of my life. Crazy!
So, now, as I look at it, I realize that at the time it was quilted, I ONLY wanted to practice. I really didn't grasp just how important this little quilt would become to me. It's one of those "good things" you do, but you don't realize just how good for a very long time...like, say - 37 years?
I also remember that several quilt friends of mine couldn't believe I was actually going to hand quilt a pre-printed quilt...something they never would have done. Well, who knew, right?
And, so here we are....half a lifetime later. I'm glad I took the time to do it. For one thing, I certainly do think it helped me do better work. I have never been able to shake the "one stitch at a time" way of quilting. And, really, who cares? I still love to quilt and even though my hands aren't always happy....one stitch here and there and a quilt gets finished. Eventually. And, like life, never understood until you can look "backward."
And, here is some good advice from long ago:
"Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern;
it will come out a rose by and by.
Life is like that - one stitch at a time taken patiently
and the pattern will come out all right
like the embroidery."
Oliver Wendell Holmes
until next time
Bird Nest Cottage