Quilts and Quilting

A Look at Past (Long Past) Quilting Projects

Years ago (around twenty, actually) (wow) I did a lot of quilting.  I’d learned to sew when I was a kid, and I made my first quilt when I was in high school.  It was for my grandfather, who’d had a heart attack, and when I said I was going to make it for him for Christmas, someone (don’t remember who) said I wouldn’t have enough time.


I did it.

It wasn’t your typical quilt.  This was made of little square pillows all stitched together.  I think my grandmother had made one, and I figured that would be pretty easy to do.  So that’s what I did.  It wasn’t huge – more of a coverlet than a full-blown quilt – but the important thing was, I did it.

Here it is – I made it in 1982, so the color of the photos is kind of fading, but you’ll get the idea:

Grandad's Quilt

The top side, on the left, has my grandfather’s initials, JA, and the back was just a brightly colored pattern I came up with.  If you look at the image on the right, you can see that my sister (she held up the quilt while I took the pictures) is standing on my parents’ bed, and that’s covered with a quilt my grandmother made.

More quilts followed, through college and after.  Nothing fancy or complex – just easy projects I could do by machine, quickly. 

I just found, in an old photo album, pictures of a quilt I’d made for my cousin as a wedding gift.  I was in my freshman year of college, I think.  Here’s what it looked like – each picture shows about half of the top.

Quilt for Donna

Funny, I’d forgotten all about that one. 

I made a quilt for myself using red and pink and gray.  I still have that one somewhere…it’s probably another quilt in need of repair.  I made a couple of small quilts using squares of wool – very warm.  No idea what happened to those.

I made one for my parents one year – I was in college – I designed it to look like blocks of poinsettia flowers and leaves.  I made one for my sister – all blues and whites – the “Lady of the Lake” pattern. 

And then one year, when I was living in Maine, I took a quilting workshop and fell in love with two things – sewing by hand, and appliqué.  So the vast majority of projects that followed were completely hand sewn and/or included appliqué designs I created.

I moved back to Rhode Island during this time, and lived for a time in my grandparents’ house.  My grandfather had passed away, and my grandmother moved into a smaller residence.  The house has a sun porch that was perfect for a sewing room, so that’s where I set up shop.  My dad provided an old door and a couple of tall sawhorses – my work table – and I organized fabric in cardboard drawers.  I created a logo for myself, had business cards and a rubber stamp made, and bought a filing cabinet.  I made pillows, wall quilts, and lap quilts, mostly.  That summer, I had a booth at a craft fair and sold one small pillow.  That was it.  But – a Mennonite woman looked at my work and praised it, and that meant a lot to me. 

Anyway, my father had taken pictures of a lot of my projects, and I’d put together a photo album.  I came across this the other day, and yesterday I scanned in some of the pictures, just to share them with you.

So here they are. 

Holly Leaves and Berries Wall Quilt

Holly Leaves and Berries wall quilt, original design, circa 1990.  This one was included in a raffle sponsored by my mom’s workplace.  The woman who won it was nice enough to take a picture of it hanging in her home.

Sampler Wall Quilt

My mother asked me to make a sampler wall quilt for one of the bedrooms, so this was what I did (above).

Cardinal on Dogwood

Cardinal on Dogwood Branch, original design, circa 1991.  I made this for my grandmother. 

Grizette and Squeak

Grizette and Squeak, original design, circa 1991.  My sister and brother-in-law’s cats.  Grizette was a lush, gray creature with an attitude, and Squeak was a gangly orange tabby with white feet. 

B Pillow

A pillow for an aunt/friend of the family.  The “B” is trapunto, which involves making a sort of pocket at the back of the fabric, filled with a bit of polyfil. 

Purple Pansy Pillow

Big Purple Pansy Pillow, original design, circa 1991.  I love pansies.  And so I made this pillow.

5 Cat Pillows

Lots of little cat-in-the-window pillows.  I’d made a large wall quilt with the silhouette of a black cat sitting in a window, and after that, I went a bit insane and – for the craft fair – made something like 64 of these pillows.

None sold.  I gave some away, and possibly threw some away in disgust. 

3 Batik Pillows

Some pillows using various batik prints.  I loved the look of batik, so I made these pillows.  I also made a lap quilt using the black and red color scheme.

4 Dresden Plate Pillows

I like these four.  I still have the one on the bottom.  It’s in Julia’s room. 

G Pillow

Original designs (above “G” pillow and below, “M” pillow).  Someone (can’t remember who) hired me to make this and the one below, but they ended up not buying the one below.  I kept it. 

M Pillow

I used to love to walk the beaches in winter.  Alone.  I’d bring my camera, take pictures, and do stupid things like walk out on the jetties by myself.  Ah well – I’m still here.

Anyway, one afternoon I’d gone to Sand Hill Cove beach, took a bunch of pictures, and was in my car in the parking lot, ready to go home.  No, I was already driving away, actually.  Then I glanced up at the rearview mirror and saw this GORGEOUS sunset.  I turned around as fast as I could, sped back into the lot and ran back to the beach and took a series of pictures as the sun dropped behind the ocean.  So glad I did that.

And one of the photographs was this inspiration for this small wall quilt (below).  There’s a tiny seagull stitched into the red layer of sky – he was in the picture, so I had to include him.

Sunset With Seagull at Sand Hill Cove

I think I still have this one, packed away somewhere.  I hope I do.

Moonlight Over Waves

The sunset kicked off a series of similar small wall quilts – images of sunsets, reflections, and ocean themes.  The design above – the full moon reflected in the water below – was repeated in the form of a pillow, too.  I’ll take a picture of it – I still have it.

Lighthouse Silhouette

This lighthouse silhouette was raffled off during the craft show. 

And the last small wall quilt was a gift for my dad one year, for either father’s day or his birthday.  I based it, in part, on a photograph he took years ago.  Here it is:


It’s always been my favorite.  The small wall quilt is below:

Sailboat at Dawn

And that’s the lot, at least for now.

Time to go wash some dishes.

2 thoughts on “A Look at Past (Long Past) Quilting Projects

  1. I don’t quilt but I do counted cross-stitch and only started taking photos of my projects about 10 years ago. I’m so thankful I did because it always brings back good memories of projects gone by.

    I also made up business cards and tried to drum up business. I never did a craft fair but tried to get commissioned pieces and discovered that it took some of the fun out of it for me so I went back to making them as gifts.

Leave a Reply