Friday, July 20, 2012

Fact-Filled Friday #1 - the beginning

This is a new thing I'm doing - well, at least for now.
At least one Friday a month I'm going to post a fact about me that you might now know.  Some of the facts will be interesting, some funny, and some just random and/or stupid.  No matter which fact I share, you (my peeps) will learn something about me, because as much as I want to believe I am superwoman - I am NOT, just plain human with some occasional crazy mixed in.

I'm going to start with how I started quilting -- it's a long post but so worth the read!  Bear with me, I tend to babble - that one was free!

Rewind back to 1994-ish.  I was in Rag Shop, saw a cute little cutting mat, rotary cutter, and fabric with an instruction sheet all bundled up in a little bit of wonderfulness.  Technically this is where it started, but not really because it ended in the same place.  I made two super cute (super crooked) log cabin blocks.  I turned both of them into my own version of a throw pillow (still to this day can't make a pillow) -- one went to my sister-in-law and I kept the other.  Yep, have no clue where it is... that's how special it wasn't.  Well, that was that, didn't go any farther.

Fast-forward to 2000.  Was still in Jersey.  My mother-in-law was already living down here (Florida) - she was totally hooked on quilting. At this point in my life, I was an Office Manager for a very large union electrical contractor (another freebie).  So one Saturday morning we're on the phone and this is how the conversation goes (now remember, everything she says is like a message from God - comes totally out of nowhere and she assumes you've heard all the pre-thoughts in her head):

MIL: hey how is everyone
ME: Great, getting ready to rake leaves (or some mundane Saturday chore, I really can't remember)
MIL:  You need to get a Gammill
ME: a what
MIL: a Gammill
ME: What is a Gammill?
MIL: it's this giant machine that sews quilts
ME: WTF are you talking about, I don't sew
MIL: you would be so good at it
ME: at what?
MIL: running the machine
ME: WTF are you talking about
MIL: the quilt shop here has a Gammill, you would be great with how well you draw and stuff
ME:  I do not understand what you are talking about and now you are giving me a headache
MIL: I'll send you a quilting magazine with a picture
ME: okay, whatever (like a picture is going to seriously help me understand WTF she's talking about)

Needless to say my arms where flying and a few palms to the forehead in frustration... you'd have to know me (and her) to truly understand.

Fast-forward to January 2003.  We had moved to Florida in 2002, bought a house falling to the ground with live subterranean termites (no, we did not know that when we bought it -- it passed two inspections) and were in the process of shit, just plain crapola shit.  My MIL thought I needed  a break.  She called me up and said I'm running to the the quilt shop to join a BOM, you should come along.  NO freaking way.  My house has no walls, everything is falling to the ground, we're cooking outside, eating in our family room, and washing dishes in the bathtub and you want me to leave this to go shopping for something I don't want or need (although getting out of the house to somewhere besides Lowes or Home Depot sounded wonderful).

So on the drive she's trying to convince me to join the BOM - at this point I'm like turn the heck around.  I do not need to join some stupid sewing thingy and make a block... WTF is a block anyway?  Why do I need quilts, I have a beautiful comforter that matches what should be my bedroom and all of it is stuffed in some box because we can't even unpack!  I was literally stamping my feet!  I did not want to start sewing, quilting, or anything of the sorts.  Then she says, but it's only $5 - what, you want me to pay to doing something I don't want to do.  She's like, fine, I'll pay for you.  I'm like yeah, and you'll sew for me too, just take me home!

So we get to the quilt shop.  She's like look at all the beautiful fabric.  Yeah... it was was nice.  But I still did NOT want any part of this.  She signs us up, we go back to her house, and she's like first we wash the fabric.  Now, if you know me, your cringing... if you don't, I'm totally WTF'g!!!  In this little sandwich bag are tiny little pieces of fabric.  The largest one is like 4"x6"... HELLO?  This is seriously going to get lost in the washer.  She's like NO, we wash it in the sink.  Are you nuts?  Nope, she was dead serious - I think she secretly works for the notorious Quilting Police!  So... we wash, we dry, we iron... I am not a gold-plater... not even close.  Do it, get it done, on to the next thing!  This was a serious waste of time (I am still a non-prewasher).  So, finally like 12 hours later (exaggerating) we start cutting our tiny little pieces into smaller little pieces.. OMG, when the freak are we going to sew?  Soon... did you all know I have ADD, OCD, and serious impulse disorders... OMG lets go!  So, we sew.  This is the best part - my MIL is anal about sewing, lining up, pinning, pressing, matching, ripping out when perfection does not occur... me, not so much!  I sewed too fast, I sewed too crooked, I was doing it all wrong!  But, I did it.  I must say, once we got beyond all that stupid crap it was fun, I created a block.

I was now a piecer!  A very fast piecer.  Lead foot on the sewing machine, the ability to incorporate the fudge-factor, and not use pins.  I was pretty precise, and yes, I did use a pin every so often when absolutely necessary.  So... when do we get our next block?  She says next month.  WTF... remember, OCD... I want more - now.  What am I supposed to do until next month?  So we go back to the quilt shop and I bought two applique rooster patterns (Radical Roosters by Florine Johnson), and yes, they still hang in my laundry room and every time I look at them I say, wow, look how freaking far have I come!  Here they are:

And finally after what seemed like beyond an eternity, I finished the BOM quilt - I don't have a picture because who knew back then... but here's a picture of it now - stop... stop laughing, get up off the floor and back to reading!  I did not quilt it, MIL did it on Natalie's longarm.  And, the best part, this quilt belongs to Peaches... she stole it from the pile at the bottom of the closet -- it's all hers so it really doesn't look as good as it should (at least somebody liked it).  And OMG, so square and look at that binding!  So anyone out there that thinks they aren't ever going to improve -- look at this quilt.  We all start somewhere!

Okay, still not done with the beginning -- many other projects, quilts, learning, improving, etc...

Fast-forward again to July 2005.  I've been working at Treasure Coast Quilt Studio (no longer with us) for some time, doing the newsletter, sewing samples, and occasionally working on the floor -- pretty much handing them back my paycheck every week (that's how it is when you work for a quilt shop).  Tammy (the owner) says "we're going to be selling the Gammill Classic, I'll let you know what to write up in the newsletter, that is unless you're interested".  Me, I think I am... I think.  Yep, I am.  I bought a 2003 Gammill Classic Plus with a 12' table.  And that is truly where I found my calling.

That's my story... well, up until this point.  The rest is still happening each and every day, and I am glad that you are all a part of it!


  1. Great story and love the roosters! :o) Nan

  2. Oooo, so you! And your MIL too. Thanks for the chuckles and relief we all started out being "pulled"'in. :)

  3. Greatly enjoyed your story of getting started. It is so much like mine except with a friend. I had no interest in quilting and she was doing block of the month. Got me started and I couldn't wait till the next month. She is owner of an insurance company, has not much time for quilting. I ended up making her blocks for her. LOL It's been a joy ever since 2001. I now have a 2005 Gammill Classic Plus. It's a Dream World. I love the roosters.

  4. Loved your beginning story! We all have one. And like you, I don't have pictures of my beginnings, but I'm working on that now and even have a notebook with fabric cuttings to review! Who knew how soothing quilting would be for the soul. ;)

  5. What a great way for me to start the day......I really enjoyed reading your story about your journey to patchwork and machine quilting......

  6. LOL. Very graphic. Could relate with the whole scene.

  7. Loved your story.. the roosters were great too.

  8. Karen,
    Loved to read about how you started on your quilting journey. Mine was different; to this day, not too many of my friends quilt. Their loss, not mine ;)
    I would like to know how you survived your house and got it to where it is today. Are you still in that same house?

  9. Great story, Karen! Very entertaining! I look forward to reading your blog. So glad MIL got you hooked!!!! I think once you start touching fabric, there is a chemical from the fabric that gets into your system through your skin. . . the more you touch, the more you want!!!! :) My husband was the one that suggested I make a quilt. In fact, it was your MIL that put a bug in my husband's ear to buy me a new sewing machine! Maybe we all have someone who has pushed us in this direction. Thanks for the laugh!

  10. I still laugh every time I read this story! I love it. And I might have to post my own some time! :)

  11. i loved your was so funny...peg in ks

  12. My first visit to your blog and already you're on my "this woman is my hero!" list. I've been sewing and quilting for years (read...yeah I'm not in my prime)and I am now Jonesing for a Long Arm machine. My Jonesing search led me to your blog. Happy it did.