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Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Brand New Happy Quilter at Quilters' Quarters!

Update: August 20, 2014
 Linus panels are on sale this week at Quilters' Quarters!  25% off.  Now only $7.50, this panel makes a quick gift or charity quilt. With a yard of muslin and a half yard of colorful fabric for a binding, and a crib-size piece of batting, this can be completed for about $20.00!  Watch for the panel's addition to our web store:  People who want to donate the finished quilt to Project Linus can come into the shop for more details.

August 24th: Row by Row summer quilt shop hop FREE PATTERN GIVEAWAY ends in one more week And then, it's time to make those quilts and return to a shop ~ if you're the first to do so, you win 25 fat quarters~ and a bonus prize at Quilters' Quarters if the quilt also contains our Beyond Winter Windows Row! October 31 is the deadline for finished quilts and prizes.

~ Fiona's Story ~
I taught for thirty years in public schools. I had that old "golden ticket" of Kindergarten through 8th grade certification, and a Master's degree Nursery through 9th grade for moderate special education. In time, I taught all grades from 1 through 8, both in general and in special education classrooms, and loved each one of them. Whenever I told someone I loved my job as a teacher, they would most always ask, "What do you teach?"  And my answer, always, was "Children." All content areas were included in my certification, and I had the opportunity, in those many years, to teach every one of them at one grade or another.

After retirement, I missed the classrooms, the students, my wonderful colleagues ... I wrote about it and published books. I then turned to coaching other authors through the self-publishing process of today. But I missed the little ones.

I decided, shortly after opening Quilters' Quarters, to return to teaching things that I love to the people that I love best - children. My first thought was to tutor middle school students preparing for high school, as that is the most recent age I'd taught in public schools. But my recall of facts, of names especially, and of dates had lessened following retirement. I didn't want tutoring to be a challenge to me - I wanted to be able to share something that I could do comfortably, and happily.

I decided to offer lessons in sewing. And that's when I met Fiona.

Fiona in July, threading the machine

This little bundle of energy, curiosity and enthusiasm was a bright spark of light in my life. She came for an hour or two each week, and was focused on filling her dream of making her own quilt. Not for a doll, not for a wall ... one for herself. And so we began.

Fiona, just recently seven, chose her fabric, planned her design, decided on a block size, learned to measure for cutting, calculated the number of squares needed by adding inches and counting fabric blocks that we'd cut. She, very much like I, would talk aloud to herself, remembering the steps of beginning to sew on the machine ... I would hear her say each week "Presser foot down, needle down, turn the machine on ... "  Within a week she had learned to machine-sew a really decent 1/4" seam, joining first block to block, alternating her Bugs Bunny fabric with her Tweety fabric. And as she worked, she talked: "End of the line. Presser foot up, needle up, pull the fabric to the back, and SNIP the thread close to the fabric. Then pull the thread to the back left." She had the steps already embedded in her memory, and followed them beautifully, week after week. 

Then she learned to sew one row to another, and how to back up if her line of stitching went too close to the edge. " Stop, and pull out the pin. Put it in the pin cup, not on the table."  If I was taking a turn starting to join two rows, she would 'ping' the little brass bell when she saw me getting near the next pin, reminding me to stop and take it out. And she would giggle - and I would laugh. We were  happy quilters together. We most often played the Chipmunks Christmas album while we worked ... high enough in volume to hear in the next room, over the sound of the sewing machine.

Beautiful fabric, beautiful thread,
beautiful smiles and happy giggles!

I showed her how to pin her quilt top to her batting (after choosing the fluffiest one in the shop) and then chose a third fabric, one of "What's Up, Doc" Bugs Bunny, for the backing and binding. We pinned all of the Bugs Bunny squares, and left the Tweety squares open for diagonal quilting lines. 

She helped with the quilting, and easily remembered the name of the "walking foot," I would start a line of quilting, and she would finish it. We then pulled out all of the pins and went in a criss-cross diagonal line through all the Bugs Bunny blocks, and admired the quilted squares that had emerged on the back of the quilt. She then let me put the binding on for her.

She learned how to set the machine for a straight stitch, a zig zag stitch, and when and why to use a reverse stitch. As we didn't have a quarter-inch foot for the machine we were using, I taped a small sticky-note pad at the quarter-inch line, showing her how to line the edge of the fabric up with that. And in six weeks' time, she had finished her quilt. 

Awesome quilter, she is!  Congratulations, Fiona, on your very first quilt! The only thing we didn't do this last week was print a label, which is VERY important;  we'll do that when we meet again!

I sent her home with a Happy Quilter T-Shirt and told her she can now proudly wear that, knowing she has the skills that it proclaims to the world.

Fiona, Bugs Bunny, Tweety and me-
Happy Quilters!
 August 15, 2014


  1. What a wonderful story! It reminds me a bit of eldest GD who wanted to sew from a young age. I had her sitting at my machine at 5, with a box under the pedal to raise it. She is now 13 and has made 3 quilts, one of which is a prize winner, clothes and countless other things. My youngest is following in her footsteps, and at age 8 is making her second quilt. Such a joy to teach them.