Memory Lane Monday: The Beginning

Memory Lane Monday @ DreamWeaver's QuiltsFor this inaugural Memory Lane Monday, I wondered where to begin. I’ve taken a BUNCH of photos of older quilts, and I still have more to do so there were lots of choices! Well, how about at the beginning? There isn’t really a more logical place, though I will note that I won’t be doing this in chronological order going forward. Even if I could sit down and put them in order by when they were made (and I doubt I could anyway–remember a lot of these aren’t dated, shame on me), I’d rather mix it up a bit and toss a seasonal quilt in where appropriate, or even an older quilt that’s related to something that’s currently on the design wall. Onward!

Shortly after ITMan and I married, we decided that I’d be much happier working at a fabric shop despite the cut in pay I’d take if I left my job in retail (and isn’t he the most awesome guy ever to be okay with that?). I went to work for Fabric Boutique in 1990 in Las Vegas, and at the time, the shop was more of a fabric store for dressmaking, with about one third of the shop devoted to a small selection of quilting cottons. I was hired for the dressmaking side obviously, as I didn’t even know what a rotary cutter was. 🙂

I made dresses and clothing for myself and as samples for the store, but those quilting cottons called to me. They were lined up in color arrays on the shelves and they were luscious. I tried making clothing with them because that’s what I knew, but quilting cottons generally don’t make the kind of clothes I find comfortable (I like more form-fitting clothing with a bit of drape and stretch tyvm) so that was ultimately unsatisfying.

There was no way around it, I finally just had to take the dive into quilting. Bargello quilts were all the rage at the time and those were my undoing. All those wonderful fabrics lined up in color and value order (though at the time I didn’t really know what “value” meant in regards to quilting), and sewn together in tiny pieces so that the whole surface was blended, OMGosh!

First Quilt, Bargello by Nadine Ruggles

I chose to make this Bargello quilt with 12 different fabrics, though of course I couldn’t just stick to quilting cottons, I just had to toss some lamé and decorator weight poly-cotton moire into the mix! Yeah, I don’t often want to learn to walk before I try to run. 😀 I did the best I could to get that beautiful color/value run, though with a limited selection of fabrics it really wasn’t all that great! I didn’t have a great pattern even, just a photocopied typewritten page that someone who worked at the shop shared with me. I think they were teaching a class and using that as the handout. This is the only picture I could find of that quilt since I no longer have it and even then, I had to bust through the entire house to come up with it, AND like many of the photos in this post, it was an actual photograph that I had to scan in to the computer (which is why they’re kind of terrible!). This post turned into a longer walk down memory lane than I thought it would be! 😉

The quilt wasn’t really “quilted” as there was no actual quilting on the surface. It did have batting though–a thin- to mid-loft polyester–and the top is connected to the batting and backing by folding back the top on one of the vertical seams and stitching all three layers together through the seam allowance area in just three or four places across the quilt. I learned a LOT about making seams match for sure, and about why using lamé and decorator weight fabrics in a quilt isn’t the best idea! I think I did fairly well making most of the seams match thanks to the instructions for pressing seams in opposite directions despite the uncooperative fabric types in the mix.

Burgundy and green is still one of my favorite color combinations for decorating, and our living area would still be a great home for this quilt if I still had it. We had it on the wall in our living room for years, in three different homes. I sold it at a craft fair sometime around 1996 while we were living in Germany though, after I’d made lots of other wall hangings that eventually replaced it.

I also made quite a few other quilts just like this one; one for each my grandmothers (not sure what happened to the one, but my mother still has the other I think, since both grandmothers have passed on now), one in purples, teals and greens that was on our bedroom wall for years, a brown one that I think I made for a class sample when I was teaching it for the Army Arts & Crafts Program in Germany, and I even made another just like the first in the burgundy and green combo, with just quilting cottons (though I think I sold that one along the way somewhere too):

I also made one for my mother that she entered in the County Fair one year on my behalf:

Mom's Bargello quilt by Nadine Ruggles

I’m pretty sure this quilt is still hanging in that same spot in her bedroom too! (Look Mom, your bedroom wall is famous now!)

If I was to make a quilt like this now, I’d have a much wider selection of fabrics to do it with so the color/value progression would be better. I sure wouldn’t use the same type of batting and I’d definitely add a LOT more quilting! Feathers, loops, shells, zippity-do-da things! No, I don’t know what exactly zippity-do-da things would look like but whatever, I’d add them! Not only are the quilts not washable as they are since the layers aren’t very stable, the additional quilting on the surface would add so much more visual interest. Honestly, I’m tempted to make another because they were definitely a lot of fun. I do have a very well-aged giant Bargello UFO that’s half done sitting in my UFO cabinet though, so I’ll probably just finish that one up someday. 😉

Okay, your turn! Here’s what to do:

Memory Lane Monday @ DreamWeaver's Quilts1. Link up a new post about an older project–maybe your first quilt? Doesn’t have to be a first though, any older project will do. Share why you made it, and what you learned and what you might do differently if you made the same project again today. Share whatever else you think folks would want to know, or whatever you’d like to have documented about that quilt–who it was made for, what occasion, where it is now, etc.

2. Somewhere in your post, link back here to my blog, preferably to this post. Add a Memory Lane Monday button to your post or to your site!

3. Visit a few other Memory Lane Monday friends and let them know in the comments how they’ve inspired you! Commenting on two or three posts near yours is a great way to share the love!

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