Saturday, August 29, 2009

Little Quilts

One fun part of being an author of quilt pattern books is that I am often in touch with quilt shops around the country. They do a great job of helping me promote my books--taking my trunk shows and clubs and offering classes based on the quilts in the books. I've talked to so many wonderful people and I really appreciate all the nice things they say about my books. They definitely get the word out about little quilts and how much fun they are to make. One shop owner told me she keeps my book at the counter and says "Listen to this" and then reads the diary entries aloud to customers as they're making their purchases. Great way to reel 'em in, LOL.

I recently spent some time sending out e-mails to various shops reminding them about upcoming trunk shows of the quilts from Remembering Adelia that are scheduled for their shops. Right there on the list of shops was Little Quilts of Marietta, GA. Now, this is probably not a big deal to most of you, but it is to me. I made my first "real" quilt 9 years ago from a Martingale & Co. book called Little Quilts All Through the House, written by Alice Berg, Mary Ellen Von Holt and Sylvia Johnson, the famous Little Quilts ladies.

At the time, I loved quilts and frequently bought small ones at craft shows. Although I was not a quilter (YET!), I had a habit of wandering into quilt shops just to browse and drool over the quilts. I bought the book because I loved all the patterns and I thought if I could not make something like the large, elaborate quilts that hung in the shops, somehow I just knew I could make one of these small quilts. The little quilt that called to me the most was "Hopscotch."  I fell in love with the colors and scrappy look and it just seemed to recall my childhood days playing with my dolls. I could make THIS quilt, I thought. So I went out and bought myself an inexpensive sewing machine just to start, so I wouldn't waste too much money in case this quilting thing wasn't for me or I couldn't actually do it.
I had no idea how to use a rotary cutter or ruler, had no scraps and little sense of design, but I was determined to make this quilt! In fact, I was BOUND and determined to make a quilt and call myself a quilter! The day that I bought the book may have been a defining moment because it was really the beginning of my passion for small quilts. I was definitely reeled in myself.

One quilt shop near me sold little bags of fabric scraps for $5.00 and I bought a few of those plus a rotary cutter, ruler and mat. I was armed and ready! I went home, read the directions over and over while my kids were in school (my only quiet time, you know), made a practice block and then finally started making the quilt. Pretty much the same way little girls began to quilt over 100 years ago. Since I was not a little girl anymore and had missed that "window," I had some catching up to do. I was sure I wasn't even going to try to set the blocks on point though, so I adjusted the pattern to my own skills as a beginner and set them in three straight rows. Besides, I rationalized, this looked more like the way played hopscotch anyway, not on the diagonal.
Figured if I wanted the look of the original, I'd just turn it, LOL, and nobody would be the wiser. I loved the awkward look of the quilt--like it had been played with to death. My daughter played with it with her dolls so much the buttons fell off. Looks like it could have been played with by me as a child as well. (Not quite the 19th century, but sometimes it feels like . . . close enough.)

In Spring of 2002 we packed up the kids and drove from Illinois to Orlando, Florida, on a vacation to Disneyworld. A long, 2-day drive each way, but guess what was on the way that I had to look forward to? (Aside from meeting Sleeping Beauty, my favorite princess--I like to sleep a lot, too.) Marietta, Georgia. That's right--where the Little Quilts shop is located, just outside Atlanta. My husband took the kids somewhere for an hour while I shopped. Did I shop! I had also brought my dog-eared copy of the book with me just in case I saw one of the authors and they would be gracious enough to sign it for me. As luck would have it, not one of them was in the shop that day (darn!) so my book went home unsigned. 

I sat on the porch and made my husband take a picture of me in front of the shop sign. Why was that rocking chair there anyway? On the ride home I reread the book, especially the page where the authors wrote about how their company grew from making their own antique-looking little doll quilts and selling them at antiques shows, to a kit business, to the book, then the shop. This part stuck with me and clearly made an impression: "Since 1986, Little Quilts has enjoyed continued growth and success. To women with a creative idea and a desire to go into business, we offer this advice--'Watch out, you're going to do great!'"

Thank you, Little Quilts!


Happy Cottage Quilter said...

What a great story. I love hearing how you got started. It just goes to show, never let your dream go. Thanks for sharing.

Robyn *Ü* said...

Love this story. I think your quilts definitely have that "little look". Little Quilts is one of my absolute favorite shops. Are you a sorority sister?

Kathleen Tracy said...

No, what's that??

Anonymous said...

I bought that book years ago too and love it. What a cool story Kathy! And now they have YOUR book and quilts in their shop!

snowpea said...

Wow.. your work is beautiful!
What a talent!!

mamifleur said...

I love your blog and little quilts ! they are pretty .

Kathy Niemann said...

Alice, Mary Ellen and Sylvia have started many a quilter on their way to quilting. I work there and hear this all the time. They are so generous and want nothing more than to share quilting with anyone who is interested. It is a joy to work there. (AND we love your trunk show!)

garigo said...

J'ai ce livre depuis fort longtemps et je l'aime beaucoup aussi! merci pour cette histoire!


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