I was 10 years old when I made my first embroidery piece. Didn’t know what I was doing but I did enjoy it. Then I found a small book on embroidery for 35 cents and taught myself how to work with these wonderful stitches. Still have the book. I painted with thread and needle as a painter paints with brush and paint.
When I was in Jr. High School a friend’s mom made a handmade quilt for her bed and I was both hooked and enchanted.
Traditional quilts were too large though. I like to do smaller pieces like I did with the embroidery so it wasn’t until many, many, many years later when I was living in Costa Rica and visiting family in San Diego that I saw in a book store a magazine called Miniature Quilting that the world of textile art changed for me.
Through this first magazine I learned about foundation piecing and made my first quilt using the house pattern in the instructions and creating my own until I had a quilt that depicted what a Costa Rican community was to me. I ended up teaching miniature quilting to a group of nuns and the young girls under their care. A whole new world was open to me.
Miniature quilting, to me, has more to do with the art of quilting and needle work. I have had traditional quilters tell me that a quilt is not a quilt unless you can snuggle in it. I love to snuggle and have a lap sized quilt that I made that I love to lay under during the winter. I also love to look at the smaller quilts as I would a piece of art and enjoy the movement of color, form, and design that went into them. Some were challenging where I had to learn how to create effects that I wanted. I can get more detailed in a small quilt than I would in a larger one made to cover a bed. Each stitch has a thought in it. Sometimes that thought is about the friend that I am making it for, sometimes it’s about life.
A few weeks ago I was hand quilting in the dentist office waiting for my daughter. The woman sitting across from me said, “You’re hand sewing that?!?” Of course. The more modern work today with the computerized sewing machines where they do it all for you look like something store bought. Too perfect. I love the look of handmade. The perfect imperfections of the stitches. It’s an intimate moment pushing the needle through the three layers or adding embellishments to a piece. I never know how it will look in the end for I always add to the design as I go along.
Quilted Tales is about the journey that I go through in creating my quilts. My hope is to enchant you as I was enchanted by that first quilt laying across my friend’s mom’s bed.
Detail of Colores de Costa Rica: El Pueblo, first miniature quilt.