By Julie Smith

Contributing writer

When the wind and snow are blowing, what a perfect time to be indoors with an indoor hobby.  Also a hobby that creates a practical item to use to keep that winter chill at bay: Quilting. I “dabble” in the wonderful craft of quilting, but my end products pale in comparison to some of the quilts I have seen at shows and also from friends & family that also quilt. Like just about any project or passion one decides to pursue....practice makes perfect. I am now starting work on my 5th quilt, and with each quilt I make; they do get better.  Five quilts is not many, as I said I only “dabble” but it is something fun that I enjoy.

After moving to Wisconsin, I became familiar with a quilting group in my area; the Apple River Quilt Guild.  

I went to a show last fall and was blown away by the talent there. But instead of getting intimidated and discouraged by my lack of talent, it was truly an inspiration. 

The ladies there are so helpful to fellow quilters, and also folks just admiring the artwork; they are more than happy to discuss techniques and pointers. This is a quilt that is displayed on their Facebook beautiful! I have had the opportunity to attend a few of their shows and they always are an inspiration! It’s interesting to note that according to the Wall Street Journal, there are an estimated 21 million quilters in the U.S. So I have plenty of company in this “little hobby.”

Quilts have a proud and honored heritage starting in Colonial America and earlier. Even before the Civil War, quilts were made by abolitionists to help raise funds and also raise awareness to abolish slavery. During war time, quilts were made to give warmth and comfort to soldiers.  In conjunction to assist the Underground Railroad, some believe that abolitionists hung quilts on the clothesline designating a safe house or directions for runaway slaves for passage to the north.

So that 5th quilt that I spoke of is a “t-shirt” quilt for my son. He provided several of his old favorite t-shirts that he wanted to have “memorialized” in quilt form. I did learn, luckily before I got started, that t-shirts have to be stabilized with interfacing to they won’t stretch and you can more easily work with the fabric. 

My husband, always the Engineer.... formulated a layout on the computer for the quilt. He used Microsoft Excel and graphed it  creating a handy-dandy chart to help us figure out “what goes where.” Here’s a picture of the final layout.  Its a very cool design, albeit kind of intimidating, but we have a good start on it.  As you can see it’s a joint endeavor, so it will be a gift to our son from both Mom & Dad. My husband said he may even assist with sewing and assembly work. Truly a family heirloom. Wish us luck and when it’s done, I will post a photo here. (but not until after my son sees it, don’t want to spoil the surprise of how the end result looks...hoping it will be awesome!)

So we have all the fabric and other materials purchased for constructing the quilt, but every time I go to a quilt (and or craft) store I just can’t help but Oooo and Ahhh at all the pretty colors, patterns and wonderful possibilities floating inside my head. Made me really laugh when I saw this meme...I bet every quilter in the world can relate to this! Happy stitching! 

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