March 14, 2016
February 1975 had been quite a month. I’d been to visit family in Wyoming and southwest Idaho during a break in school. I loved it so much I didn’t want to head home but my mother read me the riot act over the phone and so I went home to school and my evening job working at a drugstore. Shortly after getting back, I had the ‘fun’ of being tied up while the drugstore was robbed and witnessing a shoot out to end it all. I missed a mid-term the next morning and the professor actually wanted a copy of the police report!
Next up on the calendar was my routine dental check up. While Dr. Curtis had his hands in my mouth I was garbling to him how, considering recent events, I really, really wanted to find a different job—maybe one in horticulture, my chosen field? He recommended I talk to his friend who owned a nursery nearby. I did, got the job, and started work immediately on weekends until summer break when I switched to full time. I loved being outside, digging in the dirt, and selling at the garden market.
Unfortunately, much to my chagrin, a young man working there picked on me horribly. I couldn’t stand him. When he wasn’t out on landscape jobs, he’d chase me with the front-end loader teasing me constantly. And then, unbelievably, in August as we’re both about to head back to our respective colleges, he asked me out on a date!! I couldn’t have been more stunned if he had actually scooped me up in the tractor bucket, but my mother encouraged me to go and to my utter surprise he was quite charming when you got him out from behind that awful tractor. Who’d have thunk?
And so, there was time for one more date before heading back to our schools. With his birthday coming up in September I had no money for a gift BUT I did have a big bag of home ec scraps from the late 60’s and early 70’s, a picture of an antique Dresden plate quilt, and the wedge template to make it. I dug in to that pile of scraps and cut out all those wedges from the double knits, chianas and polyesters from that era. With the help of my little Singer Genie, I sewed them together into ‘plates’. Boy were they a sight to behold 🙁
What’s even worse is those were actual clothing scraps–what were we thinking back then? Elephant pants, hip-huggers, maxi dresses, dotted swiss blouses, poly denim pant suits, and even a bikini………….
Hmmmm. So the plates were done—what to sew them to? How about that polyester denim? Yep—that’d do the trick. What kind of batting? Why, of course, two sheets of extra-loft polyester! And for the back—more of that lovely thick polyester denim. That finished sucker was one heavy monstrosity that was sure to keep him warm if it didn’t suffocate him first………
And so I made my first quilt. It was awful, he said he liked it, and we still have it to this day. The most important thing I learned from that first quilt was that I had a whole lot to learn, so I set out to do just that. Forty-one years later I’m just as passionate about the two loves I found over that eventful year of ’75.
And, oh yes, we still love gardens to this day—no front end loaders allowed though!
What was your first quilt like? How did you come to make it? When? I’d love to hear your stories!
Til next time~