Do you keep a quilt journal?
I do. Here’s why:
It started with my very first quilt. I had never quilted before; not in any shape, fashion or form. I had NO idea what I was doing. Still, I was determined to try.
What’s more, I was equally determined to blend my newly found ambition to quilt with another just-as-new passion—genealogy.
I decided I would create a quilt with our family tree embroidered upon it.
I didn’t embroider either.
AIMING A LITTLE HIGH? You bet! But, I was determined.
So, with no training in genealogy, embroidery or quilting—not even a book or pattern with instructions to go by—I got started.
I embroidered the names of family members into solid, light pink squares and then added a dark pink square between each one (I now know that’s called a 9-patch block). Then, I took each 9-patch block, individually, and quilted it with the quilt-as-you-go technique having no idea that was what I was actually doing. I just assumed all quilts were made this way…they aren’t. I added a blue floral block and did the same to it.
As you can imagine, I ran into quite a few stumbling blocks, ditches and walls along the way.
About halfway through the project, I got frustrated. And, I quit. I packed the whole thing up in a box and put the box in a closet and did not think about it again for a year.
Part of the frustration came with the genealogy side of the project. I was having trouble getting the names of my husband’s family members. He was not in contact with his father (or his father’s side of the family) and hadn’t been since he was three. He did not know his grand-parent’s names. Even the names on his mother’s side were proving hard to obtain.
I asked my mother-in-law what her own grand-parent’s names had been. She answered, “Grandma and Pop, & Grams and Grampy”. I remember chuckling and asking, “Yes, I know that’s what you called them but what were their actual names”. She looked at me with the strangest expression and answered, “I have no idea.” What made it worse was there was no one left in her family to ask!
I also asked her what her in-law’s names had been. “AZLE and LLAMA”, she answered, excited to KNOW something for sure. “Llama, like the animal?” I asked, incredulously. YES. She said. Like the animal. She was so certain. So, I wrote it down. But, deep in the pit of my stomach, it didn’t feel right.
Six or seven months went by with no clues. Then I found something! Just a small notation on someone else’s family tree that might…MIGHT…be connected to my husband’s family. So, I started the hunt again. I DID indeed find additional information and this reignited my interest in the family tree quilt.
So, I pulled it out of the closet and went back to work.
Here’s where things got sticky. Because I had made no notes for myself when constructing the quilt in the beginning, I could not remember what size the original blocks had been before sewing them together. I measured and tried to guess…. I guessed wrongly.
Then newer blocks were an inch smaller, all the way around, than the older ones. I did not notice. When it came time to put the two halves together. They didn’t fit. So… I forced them. I never dreamed what I big mistake I was making.
When all was said and done, it was a lovely quilt. BUT…it was shaped almost like a flower vase—the top being almost two feet wider than the bottom.
AND, very little of the family tree information was correct.
My husband’s grandmother’s name was NOT Llama—like the animal. It was Liama and her husband’s name was not Azle but Arvids.
As it turned out, most everything I embroidered on that quilt—especially on my husband’s side of the family was either incorrect or misspelled or both!
What a waste of time.
I remember crying a lot, when I figured it all out.
Today, however, it’s a family gem of a story. We tell it at almost every get-together and we laugh and cry and have the best time remembering it all.
But, what about my grandkids? What about their kids?
Who would remember that story of my first quilt if I didn’t write it down?
So, I wrote it down. That’s how my QUILT JOURNAL came to be.
Now, I write the story of every quilt I make—whether I intend to keep it in my home or not. Gifted, donations, give-aways for drawings. It doesn’t matter. They are all my creations and they all have a story.
So, the answer to the question above, “Do you journal about your quilts” is yes. I do. And so, should you!
Take pictures, write the stories behind the creation and keep a record of your master-pieces. You’ll be glad you did.