A Stitchin' Time, Part 1: The Buy-In

I mentioned a while back that I've been taking a quilting class with my Grandma. Well, I have been meaning to tell you all about it, but I'll be damned if I've had any time to WRITE about it--I don't even have enough time to do all my quilting homework! Ironically, the lady who teaches the class suggested we keep a quilt diary, where we journal our quilting experience and what goes on while we're making our quilt. Uh, yeah, lady, I'm too busy cutting/sewing/measuring/quilting to do that.

But, let's begin. And what better place to start than the beginning, right?

So for Christmas, my gift to my Grandma was for us to go to a beading class together at Bangles and Beads in Carytown (which we did, and enjoyed, but, again, too busy quilting--no time for beads!). After she opened it, she asked me if I'd ever be interested in doing a quilting class. I said, sure, why not? It meant more time with my Grandma, and it meant I would finally learn how to sew something, a skill I did not have in my domestic arsenal.

My family is from Chester, and right in the heart of Downtown Chester there's a store called the Busy Bea. It's a quilt shop, and they teach all sorts of quilting classes (if you aren't a quilter, you would not BELIEVE how many different types of quilts there are). So I called them up, and Grandma and I got registered for the class. Class was starting the week after Bryan and I returned from our Valentine's Day cruise, and Ms. Bea, the owner, told me that Grandma and I would need to come in and pick out our fabrics before the first class. It was kind of hard to find a time to go, since Grandma doesn't drive and I have to work and the place keeps banker's hours, but we made it down there the Thursday before our first class.

I think Grandma and I both were thinking we'd be there for, what, an hour, maybe two? I think we were there for three and a half hours. Holy crap, it is STRESSFUL trying to pick EIGHT DIFFERENT PRINTS that go together in this thing you're supposed to have for the rest of your life and pass on to your children, who will pass it on to their children, and so on and so forth. What made it even MORE stressful was that Ms. Bea was very opinionated on the matter.

A brief word on Ms. Bea. Ms. Bea opened the Busy Bea something like 30 years ago, and just Monday she turned 85 years old. She is still sassy and knows her quilts, but she likes to talk. And not necessarily about the topic at hand. This tendency often extends the amount of time any given task takes at the Busy Bea. Not that you don't want to hear what she has to say, just that sometimes she has a lot of it to say, and you still haven't gotten done what you wanted to do...

So anyway, Ms. Bea sent her daughter Cathy off to the bank while Grandma and I floundered around the shop trying to figure out what kind of quilt we intended to make. We started gathering bolts of fabric, and Ms. Bea would give us the ol' "That doesn't match!" every so often. Finally, thank God, Cathy came back and whipped us right into shape, and in what felt like no time, we had 11 bolts of fabric each: 4 light patterns, 4 dark patterns, the stripping (the main color of the quilt), the accent solid, and the muslin.

Excellent! Now we were ready for class on Monday!

Except, not so fast. We were to take home all, like, 50 yards of fabric and put each piece through the washing machine with NO SOAP (big letters), then pull each piece out wet and iron it dry. Then we were to gently fold and HANG IT on pants hangers so there would be no creases. If parts of the fabric dried before we could get to them with the iron, we had to have a spray bottle full of water--NO WATER IN THE IRON--and re-wet it and then iron it.

I should have known when I spent about six hours ironing on the Sunday before our first class and didn't even finish all of my fabric that this class was going to be very time consuming...


Brie said...

how cool! i have always wished i could quilt--my mother does, and beautifully, so it's an artform i admire. :)

i hope you'll post pics of the quilt's progress!


Kim said...

I love this--the fact that you are doing this with your grandma, and creating this quilt, learning this skill, and spending this time with her. I am sure she loves it, too. Please do post pictures as you go along!

Mymsie said...

No soap? I didn't know that! No drying? I didn't know that either. I can see how her way would make your fabric perfectly smooth & wrinkle free. I'll have to try it!