Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Friday, August 9, 2013

National Book Lovers Day

Hi Everyone,

Just when I didn't think I had anything to blog about today, I saw where today is National Book Lover's Day and Moda is celebrating by asking what quilting book inspired you the most?  I was surprised to see that Sherri at A Quilting Life was inspired by the same book as me.

Little Quilts All Through the House was the one that began my "true" plunge into quilting.  Before it, I had made a couple things, including an Eleanor Burns quilt, Burgoyne Surrounded.  Did we all begin with Eleanor?  But I didn't have a stash, room, or was consumed before I had this book.
Let me set the stage.  It was January 1995.  I was living back home in South Dakota for a year because my husband was "lucky" enough to get a one year assignment in Korea, unaccompanied.  My daughter was 8 at the time and she and I moved to South Dakota.  I didn't live with my parents, but rented a house 60 miles away in the nearest "city."  (At the time, a "city" was defined by having a McDonalds, a Walmart, and traffic lights.  My hometown had none of these.)  I can't tell you the despair I was in facing that year.  I wasn't brand new to the Army life, either, and had already been "initiated" in my first 6 months with my husband going off to the first gulf war.  I think what got to me the most was that he left right after Christmas and I was consumed by looking at the 1995 calendar and knowing that he would be gone for the whole thing!  Maybe if he had left in May, or September, or July it would have seemed easier because I wouldn't "see" the whole thing.  I don't know.  All I do know is that I began the year in a poor frame of mind. 
Luckily the large town (it never was a city) I was living in had a fabric store.  It was just a chain shop--Northwest Fabrics.  I'm not sure if they still exist?  I would go there because I loved fabric, I sewed for my daughter, and I had made a couple quilted projects.  While on one visit, I saw this Little Quilts book.  I was smitten!  I loved the projects.  I wanted to make some like it.  I first thought I could make them without the book, because is was something like $22!  I didn't want to spend $22 on a book! (ha ha--the irony!)  This was not a craft/fabric store that had 40% off coupons every week, either.  I continued to visit and look at the book until finally the store was going to have 30% off any one item on the first weekend in March. 
The first weekend in March was also my daughter's birthday.  Family was coming, and that would be nice, but I wanted to get to the fabric store to buy my book!  I woke up on that Saturday morning to a blizzard.  Are you kidding me?  It eventually stopped snowing hard so I set out and plowed through the drifts and made it to the store and got that book!  I read it from cover to cover.  Next I began to get some fabric.  I remember looking at the pictures in the book and trying to get the same type of fabric so that I could "get the look" that I loved.  I began by getting quarter yards of fabric, or even eighths!  (No fat quarters yet!)  And I plunged in.  I made nearly every quilt in the book.

 I made both log cabin quilts in the book, but the other version I gave away.  Everything is hand-quilted except this one below.

See the quilting on this?  It was my first attempt at free motion.  The old machine I was sewing with didn't lower the feed dogs.  It didn't have a cover, either, so I just fought them.  I didn't have a free-motion foot, either, so I DIDN'T USE A FOOT AT ALL.  I don't advise that!!!  It is really dangerous.

Celebration Flag:  I had two of these screw-pinned to the backs of my chairs in the living room.

 Christmas Stars.  I love this one and it is out all year long.

Cinnamon Hearts.  I've made many of these.  Whenever I teach back-basting applique, I always have my students make a heart.  Since I make up samples showing different steps, I can make one of these when I finish all the samples.

I made this bowtie from the book.  It doesn't have any of the easy methods--you set in the seams.  I forgot to add the quarter inch to my template, so my first version was smaller then it should have been.  I made another, with the correct size template, but that is at my sister's house.

Harvest Stars 
A friend and I made the bearpaw sampler from the book together for another friend.  I made a Sun Bonnet Sue from the book, also for my sister.  I even made this:
which was shown in the book but didn't have the instructions.  The fabric in the alternate blocks is from a real feedsack that I found at an antique shop there.  The instructions for this quilt were published by Little Quilts in a later book.
I have remained a big Little Quilt's fan and have made many, many other of their quilts.  When they finally opened their shop in Marietta, Georgia, I was able to go while I lived in Augusta, and I'm afraid I acted like a bit of a groupie, getting my picture taken, etc.  I actually took a two-day class there, too and to this day it is my favorite class I've had.
I always date 1995 as the year that I truly began quilting and it was all because of this book.  Quilting made the separation bearable and ever since, when my husband is gone, quilting really comforts me.  I'm always quilting, but when he is away I get even more manic with it, even staying up all hours, etc.  In an aside, that same year I took a genealogy class and got immersed in that as well. 
What is the quilt book that inspired you the most?


  1. Pick Four by Sue Abrey is the book that convinced me I could quilt and showed me how. I love the book.

  2. Thank you for the story! I'm an AF wife and retired AF myself so I appreciate your time while your husband was away. I took a class with the Little Quilts author! My first log cabin class! After 3 years of quilting, I can say I am pretty good at it now!

  3. Such an interesting story! I'm impressed at how much you got out of that book! I can see the beginnings of the "Patriotic Quilter" there, too.

  4. I too started with Quilt in a Day. I was managing a company owned Stretch and Sew store in the early 80's, knits were fading out and S&S was going to start carrying calicos and teach QIAD. A group of managers went down to San Marcos, Ca, took a class with Eleanor on Saturday and started teaching the techniques a few weeks after that. Eleanor came to the store several times and would teach a morning class and an evening class. That was before rotary cutters and we tore 2 1/2" strips. What a mess as there were threads everywhere. That was the beginning of my quilting. Little quilts all through the House also became part of my library but I didn't make as many of the patterns as you did, I loved the style. The early hard bound books of Debbie Mumm and Thimbleberries all played a part in my quilting and of course anything red, white, and blue. Now I seem to enjoy Civil War reproduction doll quilts the most. But though out my quilting life baby quilts for Project Linus has been a passion.

  5. What a great story - thanks for sharing! I was inspired more by the people/quilters around me, than by a certain book, though there are so many books out there that I love.

  6. I have that book, too, but haven't made any of the quilts. I was inspired by Georgia Bonesteel's books in the 80s. I was excited when she actually came to a quilt show in Wyoming. I took my books to get her autograph.

  7. I enjoyed reading about your introduction and journey into quilting, JoAnne! Like Julie, I was more inspired by friends who were quilting in the 1990's, and admired their dedication to their hobby. It wasn't until 2001 that I was invited to join 5 other ladies on a sewing retreat. The projects were all planned by two of them, and I was told to just bring a needle and some thread! We all worked on the same projects over the next 4 days, staying up until 1:30-2:00am because we could! In the end it was so fun to see the differences that the "same" projects had, with our individualism expressed with needle and thread. Today, that group of ladies has grown to eleven, and our annual retreat is every September. Now we bring sewing machines and everything else needed for a week long of quilting... but hardly anyone can make it until 1:30am!!!

  8. Oh, these are all so dang cute! I love little quilts! And I think the book that's inspired me the most is Terri Zegart's "Quilts - An American Heritage". It's full of antique quilts (no instructions) and I think I have nearly every page with a post-it saying "MUST MAKE SOME DAY!" LOL It's my go-to book every time I am thinking of starting a new quilt!

  9. This was so fun to read and see! I actually made two of the log cabins and gave the other one away to my Aunt as a Christmas gift. It was a homespun version similar to yours!

  10. I enjoyed hearing about your first book and how you really got into quilting. I didn't really have a specific book, but bought a bunch of quilting magazines and learned from them. I was too intimidated to take a quilting class until many years later. I do enjoy Jinny Beyer's books now as reference books, especially for hand-piecing which I haven't done a lot of.

  11. Wow, a fascinating tale JoAnne and so neat to see you have so many of your first quilts around you still. And an amazing tale of determination getting the book in the first place! I'm not sure what hooked me in, I just knew that this was my calling and just suddenly semed to be absorbing (and collecting) all things quilting :-)