How I Became a Quilter


Mom and I were really bored one day in 1989. We wanted something to do, so we got in my mini-van and drove to San Antonio. My great Aunt Beulah had passed away and in her will she left us - a legacy - her quilting frame! Which, at the time, we thought was pretty funny, since Mom and I didn't quilt. We drove to Cousin Butlers house in San Antonio. Through the house and out into the backyard to the storage shed we went. Butler had to move boxes, and some old furniture and other stuff. In the back of the shed was...our quilting frame. All it really consisted of was 4 long boards and 2 sawhorses. We loaded it into the van and drove home.

When we got home and started to set it up, we discovered that we couldnt make heads nor tails out of it. Since we didn't quilt, we didn't know how to set the thing up. So, we looked around and found some ladies that quilted. We asked questions, went to the State Fair in Dallas and watched the quilting exhibition, and figured out how to get started.

We soon met our now good friend and mentor, Mrs. Eaton. She is now in her eighties and has been quilting all her life. She pieces her own tops, stretches them herself, and does all the quilting - by hand. This in itself is a huge task, and when we found out she was color-blind, we couldnt believe it! With Mrs. Eatons guidance, Mom and I learned how to stretch a top, baste, and began quilting on our new frame.

I immediately discovered I had no patience for piecing. It seemed too much like a jigsaw puzzle - too tedious and time-consuming. So, I started top-shopping. I went to flea markets and antique stores, looking for tops that had not been quilted. I was always amazed when I went into an antique store and asked for quilt tops and the proprietor didnt know what a quilt top was!!!!! I discovered that my favorite tops were depression-era tops that were pieced out of 100% cotton feedsacks. These are very soft and easy to hand quilt. Bright florals, pretty stripes, interesting patterns.

Soon it became clear what my #1 motivating factor was in my interest in quilting - I am a color addict! The quilt top pattern is unimportant - The colors have to be right or I dont even consider it. I prefer pastel colors in Easter egg hues, lavenders, yellows, pinks, greens, blues. I get good vibrations from the antique tops. My favorite antique tops that I have quilted are Grandmothers Flower Garden (found in an indoor flea market in Dallas), a Double Wedding Ring with lavender and yellow (also found in Dallas), a beautiful pink-sashed Grandmothers Fan (found in an antique store in New Braunfels), and a particular pattern I seem to collect - Star of Davids. I bought my first Star of David top in Wimberley on the day I met my DH - his name is David!

Also, I soon discovered the greatest invention known to quilters - the hoop! The big square frame took up too much room in my house, so I chose to use a hoop, and Ive never regretted it. The hoop is so easy to take your quilting with you in the car. When you live in Texas, you spend 50% of your time in the car going to see relatives. Texas is a big, big state!!!

About 2 years ago I decided I better start piecing since it was becoming harder and harder to find antique tops. I started collecting feedsacks and joined the Feedsack Club. I also discovered that more and more fabric stores were carrying gorgeous 100% cotton fabric. I was an art major in college until I switched to Psychology, and felt at home picking and choosing fabrics, mixing and matching. A whole new perspective in quilting was opening up. I even found some partially completed tops, and once in a while I bought one and finished the top and quilted it. One day at a flea market in Austin, I found some beautiful pieces - Umbrella Ladies. Each lady had a hat, dress, and matching umbrella. There were 12 finished ones, and fabric for others. I made a total of 30 umbrella ladies and appliqud them on muslin squares. Then something strange happened...

Last Christmas I got another "legacy". My cousin Bea, who is Aunt Beulahs youngest grandchild, gave me some tops and scraps she found in Aunt Beulahs fabric stash. Some blocks were the Ocean Wave and also some 4 pointed stars. There was also some fabric scraps - some usable, others not. But my very favorite piece of fabric has little tiny Umbrella Ladies on it. The background is yellow, and the ladies are printed in red. I wonder if Aunt Beulah is trying to tell us something....I truly believe there are no coincidences. And thats how I became a quilter.

Jennifer [email protected]


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