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The gift of a quilt

                                                                                                                             Photo by Christy Porter
Musical Lone Star with piano key border, made in 2015 by Christy Porter, 
quilted by local quilter Reggia Ward, now retired.

By Christy Porter
Managing Editor
                                   
The gift of a quilt is a gift from the heart. Someone loves you so much they are investing time, talent, effort and money in either creating a very personal quilt just for you, or they are choosing what they believe to be the perfect gift that has been created by someone else.
Whether it is an experienced quilt maker, someone who is a beginner trying for the first time, or somewhere in between, it is a challenge. It will require time, starting with choosing the quilt pattern and the fabric, which requires finances. An example of fabric requirements for a queen size quilt, 90 x 108-inches, is at least six yards without any piecing, seams or matching. The lining or backing would require the same if using 44/45-inch width fabric, two and one half yards if using what is called sheeting, which is 108-inches wide. As a rule the more design or piecing, the more fabric that will be required. Regardless of expertise level, anyone who initiates this process will make choices throughout the entire project.
Once the pattern and fabric are chosen the quilt maker will then invest a great deal of time cutting the pieces for the quilt. They will invest another large amount of time sewing these cut pieces into the quilt top to make the desired design come out just right. They will be matching corners and making seams straight to ensure the quilt is the perfect size. Regardless of whether it is hand sewn or machine made this will require some “tools of the trade” such as scissors and possibly a rotary blade, rulers, thread, needles and a sewing machine. Few people complete a quilt without having to palm a seam ripper at least once; this includes even the most talented.
Then the decision has to be made in regards to the type of batting to be layered in the quilt and the fabric that will be chosen as the lining or backing of the quilt. Many quilters make quilts that are reversible, either using an appealing fabric on the back or piecing a different pattern for the reverse. This is also a good time to decide if a contrasting or coordinating binding will be used to finish the edges of the quilt. Sometimes a pieced binding such as a sawtooth or scalloped edge will be used.
Once these decisions have been made the quilt will be ready for the quilter. Quilting stabilizes the layers; top, batting and lining of the quilt, together. Hand quilting is beautiful but is intensely time consuming and is an art that requires practice and patience. Another alternative is not actually quilting but is called tacking or tying; it is desired on some types of quilts and patterns. Requiring time and additional money invested, but equally beautiful with hundreds of pattern choices, is machine quilting. This also requires practice and experience, in addition to a more specialized machine that is able to handle the bulk of a larger fabric art.
The final steps are the binding of the raw edge layers and the special touch of a label. The label could include information such as the maker(s) of the quilt, the year, an occasion and the person’s name receiving the quilt.
Quilts are the creative expression of the one making it. When made for someone else, the receiver’s interests and colors are seriously considered in the design. The maker is investing a piece of themselves, their talent and resources to make a treasured work of art and a very personal legacy.
On a personal note: When taken care of correctly, quilts can be family heirlooms. I have quilts that were made by my great-grandmothers, my great-great aunt, my grandmother, my mother, myself, as well as some to which my children and granddaughters contributed. The time spent with loved ones and the knowledge shared are also priceless gifts for me. My quilts are cherished masterpieces and family heirlooms. 
                                                                                                                     Photo by Christy Porter
My first pieced quilt at the age of 14 in 1976. My great-grandmother instructed while I constructed. The quilting was done by family members, including my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, likely several great aunts and myself.

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