Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My first Bargello

When I started quilting, I worked from a book. I'd been sewing for a while at that point, having learned to sew when I was pretty young. My grandmother taught me how to sew and I remember making clothes for my Barbie Doll. They were pretty simple as I recall, but I was proud of them. When I was a teenager my grandmother and I made me a reversible skirt, a full circle skirt, 50s style. This was a joy. We went to the fabric store, and I got my first rush of touching bolts of fabric. We got some fabric and a pattern, and spent several happy afternoons on her dining room floor, marking, measuring and cutting, while she was telling me stories of her own youth. A wonderful time; I got to know my grandmother as a person during those afternoons.
She taught me to sew on her old, foot-pedaled Singer and I remember not quite believing her when she said she needed help threading because she couldn't see the eye of the needle anymore. I think of her whenever I start a new project, and nearly every time I sit at my own machine.

By the time I started quilting, she was no longer around to teach me or help me learn, and so I had to rely on a book. I had gotten a sewing machine as a birthday gift the year before, after my family decided that hand stitching a shirt for my fully-grown, big-shouldered big brought, was too much. They all got together to buy me a machine. A Brothers machine which lasted me 10 years. (I now have a Singer.)

One  of the first projects I made with my Brothers machine and using the quilting for beginners book (whose title I shall have to look up) was a fairly simple Bargello design, The Blue Cathedral:


This was done with strips of increasingly dark blues, and was a good way to learn about color palettes and grades. The Bargello patterns are highly mathematical and the book made it easier by calculating the different widths I needed of each color at each line. I quilted the Cathedral with metallic silver thread and it has been hanging in my living rooms for about 13 years now. If I look at it closely I can see all the rookie mistakes I made with this quilt, and the points that don't match up, but it still makes me smile to look at it.

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