Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday: My First Quilt

We moved to Grants Pass, Oregon in 1970.  Our first home was in what had once been a motel.  We had the front unit, which was the manager's unit.  So besides a large living space, it had a bonus area that used to be the front office.  Unfortunately we couldn't afford this luxury and soon found a tiny house down on Maple Lane.  Two things, beyond the problem of no money, that made this little house ideal.  First, it had neighbors.  This was a big thing for a 19-year-old stay-at-home-mother with a little 5 month-old baby, a young mother who knew no one in Grants Pass.  Secondly, the house next door to the motel blew up from a gas leak the day after we moved out.  It pretty much blew out the place where we were living along with it.

I had great neighbors on Maple Lane.  There was an older couple who lived to our left and a young couple to our right.  Across the street was another young couple with children a bit older than ours.  I loved living in Grants Pass; I hated living in Grants Pass.  We were dirt poor.  In 1974, my children's father got a job in Portland and we moved north.  
Christmas 1972 Grants Pass, Oregon
Now I told you about Grants Pass because I thought I was living there when I made this first quilt.  I thought the older couple had given me the fabric.  But after searching pictures, I realized we had already moved to Portland when I made it, so the story takes a sharp turn in the journey of this quilt.

So now I don't know who gave me the rectangular patches of fabric, but someone did...  Maybe it was a sweet woman in Grants Pass; maybe it was someone in Portland.  But someone gave me pieces of fabric. The rectangles were all cut out, reds, blues, and blacks.  That special quilting someone asked me if I wanted to make them into a quilt.  Just about that time, we found an old treadle sewing machine for only a few dollars.  My children's father cleaned it up and TaDa!  I had a sewing machine!    Now this wasn't my first sewing machine.  I received one when I graduated from high school--a portable Singer.  I had made plenty of clothes on this little machine.  But a treadle machine meant I could sew while my sons napped and not make noise!  It was perfect.

I sewed all the patches of fabric together and found an old blanket--one not in the best shape--for the batting. I found flannel for the backing.  It was inexpensive flannel, maybe 50 cents a yard.  It didn't match anything in the quilt top, but it seems like it was all they had.  And I tied the quilt, using pink yarn.  Why pink?  I have no idea.  It must have been something I had hanging around.  The binding was made from the same fabric as the patches.  I don't remember how I figured out how to put on the binding but looking at it now I am impressed.  I gave it to my mother for Christmas that year.  My elder son, so excited to have gramma here, told her, "I'm not suppose to tell you that momma made you a blanket." That was the last I saw of this quilt, forgetting all about it.

I started quilting in 2003 and had totally forgotten I had made this one back in the 70s.  And they say you never forget your first time.  HA!  Jump forward to 2010.  I found this first quilt in Mom's cupboard one evening when I was visiting and looking for pillows.  It had never been used but she had saved it.  I tossed it on the guest bed and proceeded to use it every visit after that.  I brought it home with me when we cleared out Mom's house and put much of her things in storage.  I use it many chilly evenings to throw over my legs as we watch Jeopardy.

Perhaps the moral is that you may not remember your first time, but seeing that first one can bring it all back to you in full force.  Unless you can't remember if you made it in 1973 or '74, in Grants Pass or Portland.  Hell, I'm still not sure...  *wink*



Scrappy quilter said...

What a great story. Reminded me of our first days with no money. Great quilt.

Angelnc Janie said...

I loved reading this sharing of your life stories very touching