Thursday, April 5, 2018

Throwback Thursday #4 Bear's Paw

I've wanted to tell this quilt's story for a long time, but the quilt doesn't live with me anymore, and I needed fresh photos. I took these in November 2016, but TBT had already stopped, so there the photos sat... Welcome to Throwback Thursday, where we blog about a quilt we made before our blogging days!
This particular quilt is extra-extra special, because it is the quilt.
Photo of a photo. Brianne on the left, Dayna on the right, quilt holders  back in 1996

The Bear's Paw block was the first quilt block I made after making Grandmother's Fan. Ha! When I think of that fan block I made circa 1990...cotton/poly broadcloth, viyella, (which is a wool/cotton twill weave), pink and burgundy scraps from clothes I'd made, templates drawn on corrugated cardboard, cut out, drawn around onto fabric and then cut with scissors again...yikes. A good friend taught me that block. I wish I still had the pillow I made, as I loved it, but it's long gone. Funny, I just now realize that the first two quilt blocks I made were from scraps. Yep the love/craze for scrappy quilts runs deep.
Sorry for the shaded photos, but this was on an Edmonton visit with my grandson as quilt holder at the playground by his house where we could get the height needed, if not quite the photographic conditions desired! I just love love LOVE this natural shot of him, love the wee-ooh, wee-ooh-ness of his mother holding it in the first photo at just a little older than he was in the photo below.

So in 1995 I was on the prowl for a Battenburg lace detachable or sew-in-able collar for matching dresses I was sewing for my daughters, aged 7 and 9. The dresses were cotton (the scraps made another quilt a few years later which will appear on TBT later this year), and the collars and cuffs were velvet, Brianne's blue and Dayna's burgundy. Fabricland just wouldn't have what I needed, but a new store had opened in Sherwood Park around that time, Lori's Fabric Cottage (now known as Lori's Country Cottage). I popped in on the way home from an appointment. Brianne was with me. We found the perfect collars there, as Lori stocked at that time a higher end of dressmaking supplies, as well as a few quilting items. At the till, as I was paying and chatting, this happened:

Brianne: Mum, you should do this.
Me: What? (half paying attention)
Brianne: Enter this contest.
Me: Oh I never win anything; (LOL little did I know that within a year I'd win a little Omega sewing machine from Fabricland!)
Brianne: But you should! (rolls her eyes) It's one dollar...
Me: Oh I don't know...what do you have to do?
Brianne: Make this quilt block...
Lori then explained how the draw worked, that you took home the free pattern that included a small chunk of background fabric, made a block with fabrics of your choosing, returned the block within the week to the store. She then would draw one block from all the entries, and that person would win all the blocks.
Me: But I don't make quilts.
Brianne: Mum! It's a dollar! You should!

So I did, under duress, LOL, pay the dollar and take home the block.

Well, what the heck, I may as well see if I could make damn thing, I mean interesting thing. So I did. And I fell in love.  Hook.  Line.  And sinker.   I think I had taken the tree skirt class at that point so I think I had a rotary cutter and mat. The tree skirt has no label...see why it's so important to label quilts? Somehow the block ended up  the right size.
The block I made is the one on the far left, floral squares, with a pink centre and deep rose claws.

The floral squares are scraps from a sweet little shorts and blouse set I made Brianne for her 7th birthday (see below), and the claws from a dress when she was four. I figured since she made me do the block, I may as well use fabric from her clothes. I did a little digging through the photo albums and found pics!
On her 7th birthday with her bubbles jump rope; Brianne age 4 in the dress that the claws are from of that first block; Dayna age 2, both in dresses I made them.

As you have guessed, I returned the block within the week's time frame, and on the Monday didn't I get a phone call (no emails then) telling me I'd won, and to stop by and pick up the blocks.

No way! Well, I had won 9 blocks including my own. So, I had to make a few more, cough, like seven, for a total of eight of my own. A couple of the eight I had won I had to toss because they were just not useable, way too big or too small, and/or fabric of the fugly kind. I then had to sign up for a class on how to make a quilt, where I learned about sashing, and a few other important items. I used fabrics from clothes I had made the girls, as well as some from a quillow I had recently made my mum. It's the green and pink floral large squares of the block on the upper right.

The sashing is a pink cotton, Brianne's favourite colour, and the border fabric I bought at Lori's, a border print fabric I just loved. I mitred the corners, carefully matching the lines of the border.

Lori sold wide back fabric way back then, expensive, but I thought well, guess this is what you do, so I bought some, and some batting too, Warm 'n Natural was what she sold...

This quilting is rather pricey of a deal, I remember thinking.

I quilted this on my 1979 Elna by going through each block with an 'X', and ditch-stitching along all the sashing, so each block is outlined. I then decided to do a little fancy quilting in the sashing (even my first quilt, I was wanting to try doing the fancy quilting that I so love). I did what I now know is called the 'egg and dart' quilting motif. I am not sure where I saw it, but I thought it so cool, how you flipped and overlapped a curved shape to get the design.  It was NOT cool trying to quilt it with a walking foot, a generic one I purchased, yep, from Lori's, to fit my Elna. There was so much fabric and batting to stuff between the little 6.5" area! I hadn't had the Quilting in Thirds epiphany yet. However, I persevered, and I was ecstatic with the result.

I even labelled this first quilt using a piece of muslin, doing it the 'right' way by sewing onto (better yet as an integral part of) the back, and then quilting right through it.

The binding was made by cutting strips of the border fabric, sewing by machine onto the front and then hand-stitching it down to the back. It has stood up well.

I can't believe this quilt is 22 years old this month. And I can't believe this little cutie-patootie is going to hit double-digits this summer!

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: Bear's Paw block, traditional setting with sashing
Size: approximately 54X66"
Fabric: scraps
Batting: Warm 'n Natural 100% cotton
Backing: purchased wide back
Quilted: on my 1979 Elna Air Electronic with a walking foot
Threads:  pieced with Gütermann cotton; quilted with Gütermann cotton

So that's my beloved first quilt story.💖 Brianne doesn't like quilts (gasp) but Brady sure does, so I know that this quilt will be in his good care, and passed on down to his children. I like that.

I can't wait to read about your pre-blogging quilts you've made. Link up below! Then grab a coffee or tea and a comfy spot, and visit some other wonderful quilts with stories behind their creation.

Linking up
Sew Fresh Quilts
My Quilt Infatuation
Quilt Fabrication
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Busy Hands Quilts



  1. What a great story! I hope others will share about their own epiphanies about "THE quilt!" But it's hard to believe Brianne doesn't like quilts. How can that be after she's the one who got you started??

  2. You documented your quilt well even in those distant days. Such a lovely story, and what a chance beginning to your hobby.I don't have any photos of the first quilt I made, but my granddaughter told me she still has it. I'll post about it sometime but not this week as I'm off to Scotland tomorrow, and I don't have a photo yet.

  3. Sandra,
    Love, love, love the story.

  4. Sweet, sweet story, Sandra! I love how this quilt came to be and that you have pictures of Brianne in the actual clothing with the fabric you used!! That just really tickles me. And then to have Brady holding the quilt, too. And you were already photographing quilts outside. And making your fabulous labels. It just all fits together so well. I'm so impressed with everything you tackled for your first quilt, including mitering border fabric. My only question is: How can Brianne not like quilts? Really not like them, or not like making them? And to think she kickstarted your habit!

  5. What a fun story - it's great to read how quilting happened for you. And look at you now!

  6. I hope you save this story for when you write a book. How the quilt started is a dream, and you made it real, loved every word, and I can imagine being right there.

  7. Love the back story! It's amazing what our kids talk us into. Mine talked me into finishing my first quilt top twenty something years after I finished it. That whole process got me back into quilting.

  8. Love the story! I can't believe all the photos you have, me very few if any from my early days.

  9. The very first big quilt I made was a bear's paw for our bed. I don't know if I have a photo. I'll have to look for one. We used it until it was in such poor condition it had to be replaced. How cool that your quilt has lasted so long (and is still going)! Neat legacy.

  10. Loved your story, thanks for sharing it with us. Aren't you just glad that B said mom you should do this!!!

  11. Oh, I love a vivid description of how it all began!

  12. I can't believe I have never heard this story before! You are like me innocently walk into a quilt store for something else and the next thing you know you walk out a quilter :) I have to say I found myself tearing up a bit at the family pics, seeing the girls so small and the pic of them holding the quilt and then Brady...melts my heart <3

  13. How cool! The entire story for this quilt is enchanting. So fun that you used fabrics from her clothes to make the block she prodded you to do - and really amazing that you could find photos of her in those clothes to share with us now! My first quilt was like your first block story, with making the stencils, tracing on the fabric with pencil and then cutting out with scissors - lots of HSTs, too!! I never did finish that quilt, and I've never found the bag or box it must have been kept in. Kind of a big bummer.

  14. Picture perfect and a story to match. Now I can put faces to the names - B and D, even though it is hard to imagine that one of them is about to get married and the other is a mom!!! Brady is a handsome young man and I am sure the quilt is super-soft and much loved.

  15. What a great story Sandra. So special to have photos of the dresses on your girls and the quilt made from the same fabric.
    Brady will treasure this quilt and the story behind it and pass it on to his family. So nice that he shares your love of quilts.