Saturday, September 09, 2006

Historic Folkloric


Trip Around the World
by Melody Johnson, 1985
Various commerical cottons, machine pieced and hand quilted. Queen size.

O yes, I have a past. I dug this old beauty out of the archives to put on Dave's bed to make his room more manly. He was delighted to see this golden oldie again. This is my last hand quilted quilt.


I was into Philomena Wiechec's Celtic designs back then. This is quilted in contrasting threads, lest you miss the design from ten feet away. Only the borders have this design, the rest is just a straight diagonal line.
This Trip Around the World quilt marked the end of my interest in quilting.

I quit mid-quilt.
I kid you not. One day I woke up with this overwhelming feeling that I was nuts to be taking perfectly good fabric, and cutting it up into pieces and then sewing it all back together again. I did my usual dramatic thing, and packed up all my fabric and quilt supplies and gave them all away...to my mother. OK, so that wasn't too far away, but at the time, I didn't know anyone else who quilted.
Then I got a job in an office. ( Well, I was nuts after all).
Six months passed and nothing. I made some clothes for work. That was the extent of my creativity for that period in my life. I was miserable. This was 1984. I had only been a quilter for three years.
Then one day my mother called me up and invited me to a luncheon held by some quilt people which featured Mary Ellen Hopkins as the speaker. I confused her with Marsha McCloskey whose name I had seen in a pattern book at the fabric store, so I agreed.
Mary Ellen had a wreckless approach to quilting that shook me to the core. Her lecture was "It's OK if you sit on my quilt" and that meant that her quilts were not precious. And that they were fun to make, and fast to make and easy to make and machine quilted. Colors didn't have to match, and pieces could be LARGE like 5 inch squares or triangles, which meant that the quilt top was executed in a day or two, and cut with a ROTARY CUTTER which was pretty new to me.
She showed quilt after quilt and told the huge audience how to make them. This was totally understandable when you saw them in the flesh.
And she was hysterically funny!
There was a break for lunch and I could barely sit still. I was chompin' at the bit to get my fabric back.
After lunch I was so excited that I stood up for the rest of the afternoon. She was making quilting into Show Business and I knew this was what I was going to do with my life from then on.
That meant getting my fabric back from my mother, which I did that very day.

And I bought Mary Ellen's book (which I finally gave away yesterday) and dove into making several of her designs for bed quilts. I did my first machine quilting and it wasn't too awful, but it wasn't too easy either, as I had a TERRIBLE machine, which had a throat plate cover instead of droppable feed dogs.

And I proceeded to focus on becoming a famous quilter. It was my daily mantra: I wanna be a famous quilter. I drove my husband nuts.

I tried everything, and made a ton of stuff, and found a quilt guild and had 11 quilts ready for the first show I entered. I realized that I needed to make things that no one else had designed, and that led me to fusing, since my ideas were difficult to impossible to do by any other method.

And I went back and finished the big ol' Trip Around the World quilt.


This is a very large tumbling blocks pattern 60x80".
Hand quilted decorator cottons. My label was done in counted cross stitch and is dated 1983. What a hoot!


11 comments:

  1. Classic designs, hand quilting, retro colors- I am not sure which century I woke up in this morning. I better go back to bed...

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was a fantastic post, Mrs. Mel. I knew you reminded me of someone - Mary Ellen with Wonder Under. She did a heck of a lot to help quilting grow in the late 80's. I am so glad you became famous and I have gotten to know you.

    OK, on to Design Star - are you hoping for David to win, as I am? Love him.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I had that same Mary Ellen Hopkins quilt book! Glad you and she crossed paths back then...or we'd ALL be somewhere else right now...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous1:59 PM

    What a GREAT story, love it and I am in complete and total awe with that quilt. Who taught you to hand-quilt back then? Obviously you weren't in a guild then. It is so very pretty. I have a lot of admiration for you Ms. Mel.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Looks as though you have always had a knack for putting colors together. Thanks for the historical post. Or was that hysterical?
    Jan

    ReplyDelete
  6. Fascinating story, thanks for sharing. Love the quilt too - beautiful hand quiting, great colours and very suitable for a man's room :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for sharing your trip down memory lane. Your quilts are great, and I especially like the intricate hand quilting. I did that too - gave up, and then came back after I figured out easier and better methods.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow, Mom did something right for you? I think I might need to go back to bed.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous5:45 AM

    Brooke, it is a 'special' mother-oldest daughter relationship that only the oldest daughter can understand, or not (as in my case).

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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Hello,
So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com