Modern Sunbonnet Sue's Musings

Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue:
"I'll learn to quilt when I retire"

I heard this comment again today. I was admiring all the lovely quilts at the St. John's Mint Festival Quilt Show this evening, when I overheard another admirer comment, "that is a lot of work". So, I said, "you're not a quilter?". And, the response - "I'll learn to quilt when I retire."

Ladies & Gentleman - don't wait until you retire to start quilting.

I have been sewing since I was 9-years-old and made a pair of black slacks in 4-H. I sewed clothes, crafts and learned to quilt as a teenager. I helped make a quilt as a gift, then made a quilt for myself when I was only seventeen. The quilting bug got me early. I read everything I could get my hands on at the local library. Even though I didn't have much spare income, I always found a way to make quilts. I hit JoAnn's for sales, picked up someone else's scraps at yard sales and estate auctions and gladly accepted someone else's no longer wanted UFO's.

Over the last 30+ years, I'm telling my age, I have improved upon my stitching ability immensely. I believe that if I had waited until I retired to take up the art of sewing and quilting, I would likely not have kept doing it. I am already experiencing decreased vision that requires bifocal lenses for close-up work. And, that doesn't even take into account the need for more and more light. I can stitch much better during the day and with a light right over my hand work or sewing machine. My hands are beginning to feel the affects of lots of use. Besides quilting - which includes rotary cutting, pressing fabric, hand applique, FMQ, and hand quilting - I spend a great deal of time typing on the computer, and I decorate cakes. This puts a lot of wear on your hands, shoulder and neck. I don't have carpal tunnel, but I have developed some degeneration in my joints. Waiting until you are older requires overcoming these obstacles while learning a new skill. If someone isn't as enthralled with quilts as much as I am right now, they are not likely to take up quilting in the fashion that I already do.

I don't just "make a quilt". Quilting is my passion. Browsing patterns, magazines and books gets my creative juices flowing. Going shopping for fabric is an opportunity to fondle lots of different fabric, even if I don't buy anything. And, actually cutting into the fabric and stitching it back together into a pattern brings a great deal of pleasure. It is pure joy to watch a quilt come together into the finished artwork that I envisioned. There is no way that I could "wait until I retire to learn to quilt". There are far too many quilts waiting to be made and I'll never be able to get them all done. Which is likely why I have so many projects going at once and such a long list of UFO's.

I attend quilt shows to see what everybody else is doing. I take time to read the story behind the quilt that is posted on the side of the quilt. I draw out block patterns that I like. I get up close to look at the quilting stitches. I step back and take in the entire quilt. A quilt show is the final step in making a quilt - the chance to show off your handiwork for others to see.

Published Fri, Aug 12 2011 9:29 PM by Pamela

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# re: "I'll learn to quilt when I retire"@ Saturday, August 13, 2011 3:59 PM

I too learned to sew at a very young age.  I was alo in 4H and made many clothing items for myself.  As I got older I continued to sew clothing and once I had children that sewing turned to outfits for them.  

I went a few years with out doing much sewing, aside from the repairs and patching of jeans for my husband and son.  

I have recently started doing small quilting projects.  Let me tell you, it doesn't take long to get hooked.  I'm already planning the next few projects before I've got the one done that I'm working on.  This past year my goal has been to do wall hangings for 5 of my friends, my daughter and my sister.  So far I only have one left to go.  Then I'm ready to tackle my first full size quit.  

I didn't quite wait to start quilting when I retired, but I'm getting close.  Like you mentioned I probably wouldn't have started this as a new hobby if I didn't have the sewing background.  Butr when I do retire in a few years, I do plan to spend lots more time quilting.