Friday, March 4, 2011

Quilting by the seat of your pants, if you're wearing any!

Hi!  My name is Mary Ann Tate, and I'm here from
(boy that is a mouthful isn't it?)
If you've been to my blog or noticed my comments on other blogs, you might wonder how
in the world I can quilt with flowers in one hand
and a microphone in the other?
(My profile picture?)

Well, that pic was taken in another lifetime, about 16 years ago, when I was a blues singer, leading a blues band.
Then one day, all the band's equipment was stolen and the stress of it all brought on an autoimmune, Myasthenia Gravis Crisis.
 At the time, I had no idea I was sick, but since it hit my tongue and breathing, singing was out the question and my life took and unexpected turn.
Long story short, I spent the next few years allowing Alex Anderson to come into my living room twice a day to teach me to quilt because watching TV and reading was about all I could do.

This first picture is the quilt that started it all.
The one that Grandma Jarvis made, and I slept under as a child.
The beginning of my quilting dream.

I have to say that when I got strong enough to start sewing again,
(I made all my sisters and my clothes when I was in high school),
it felt like things were getting back to some kind of normal, but I had a long way to go.

Quilting was my rehabilitation.
I started by going to a weekly quilting group and having that to look forward to, helped me get stronger.
I'd start thinking about what I would do the next Tuesday with my friends, instead of, 
"Gee, which is going to expire first?  Me or the Milk?" 

I learned a lot with this next quilt, and I designed it....the first year I started quilting pretty much by the "seat of my pants".  Round by round, not knowing a thing.
I learned about coping strips because 3 inch blocks, 5 inch blocks and 12 inch blocks don't go together so well in a medallion quilt.
I learned that if you don't square up your blocks you get really wonky places, but you CAN make darts on the top and nobody will ever know if you don't tell them.  whoops!!  Did I say that?
I learned that a busy back will hide a lot of problems and you can't even SEE the pleats if you applique them down. (Truly!)


 This next quilt is a Stack a Whack made out of beautiful nativity fabric.
When I finally settled into my style of quilting I figured out that I didn't like to mark because that was too much work and took too much time.  So I started just trying to see the marks already on the quilt, (the squares and triangles etc.), and quilt within those lines.
Letting go of marking is scary, but you can practice on your guild's charity quilts and you'd be amazed how fast you will develop your own style, and your guild will love you!

Bethany's Nativity
 Click on the photos to see the quilting up close.
Back of Bethany' Nativity

This is the Class sample for my trapunto class.
(I use Quilt Quilt Savvy by Diane Gaudynsky for the class.)
Tapunto sample

Here's one of my favorite quilts I have quilted for someone else.
The pattern is Gathering Basket by J. Michelle Watts. When I was done with this quilt, I was very pleased and so was the customer! 

Gathering Basket

Back of Gathering basket
Here is my guild's, the Mid-Del Stitchin' Sisters Quilt Guild,
first opportunity quilt.
The block came from Quilter's Cache, Album patch,
and we sent off 3 1/2" squares too celebrity quilters for siggies, made the top and I quilted it.

Opportunity Quilt

Here are two close ups.  This was a lot of work!!!
Signature blocks closeups
Opportunity quilt closeups
 I'm almost done, I have one last quilt to show.
this, is Garden Tiles From Quiltmaker magazine March/April 07 ( Quiltmaker)

I made this one to showcase quilting.  It cried out for feathers, so that's what I did.

When I do feathers I only mark the wreath's spine and the inner point where the feathers should center. 
It took me several months to complete, sneaking it between customers quilts so when I look at it I can see how my feather evolved from one kind to another.
The feather swaths in between the wreaths were all done totally free hand.
For those of you that have never done feathers, they are fun and forgiving.
They're like water, they just fill in the space.
You can put them anywhere.

Why quilting by the seat of your pants if you're wearing any?
Wellllll?   It's not like you're getting a whole lot of exercise while your quilting, ya know!
Quilting your butt off? More like quilting your butt bigger!
So those pants just may be getting a little bit tight, and any way, you may be at the age that you are experiencing your own personal summer and sitting underneath a big quilt with pants on can be downright hot.
Take your pants off!
Get comfortable.
Don't wait.
Start quilting today.

Thanks for letting me come by today, Madame Samm, I had a good time.
Come over and see me at my blog.
I don't have any fancy giveaways.
But I do giveaway a lot of tips on quilting and sometimes I tell a funny story or two.

Happy quilting!


  1. Oh you're fun and yes, I'm going to have to go visit your blog! thanks so much for the fun :) :)

  2. Beautiful selection of quilts... thanks

  3. Wonderful post! I really enjoyed reading the stories behind your quilts! And I loved seeing the reverse side of the quilts so we could see the quilting. My favorite was your stack 'n whack. One of those is on my list. I cope with Fibromyalgia and now allergy issues so I certainly understand how quilting can be rehabilation. I find quilting and stitching really relaxes me better than any pain med! LOL!!

  4. I hate marking too! Thanks for the inspiration!


  5. Awww....love the Sun Bonnet Sue quilt. I made one of those about 100 years ago. Especially like that Album Patch quilt too.

  6. Love to read your story, Mary Ann, your quilts and quilting are gorgeous! I'll visit your blog to learn some new quilting tips.

  7. Interesting journey, Mary Ann! Thanks for sharing your quilts, too. I hope your guild made a buncha bucks on your siggie quilt!

  8. Good Morning Mary Ann, you are a delight this morning...quilting your butt bigger..scares me...don't want that to happen... and the alternative is not going to happen.lol You are a hoot...and I love the siggie quilt..that one is beautiful...great work my dear..a nice way to end our week...

  9. Thanks for such a happy post! I love the quilts!

  10. Love your quilts!! I used to work in pheresis, so I know a lot about Myasthenia Gravis. Hope you are doing well and not letting the quilting cause you any stress, lol.

  11. Love your post and your quilts! I'm a big believer in busy backs too. Haven't tried pleats yet but I have made a wavy quilt or two! Can't wait to visit your blog.

  12. I love free motion quilting but I have yet to get a hold on feathers. Every time I sketch them I can't stand the way they turn out. Ah well, keep practicing I suppose :)

  13. experiencing meee own summer...i keep the temp in our house about 67 (comfortable, yep). Your quilting is so-sew inspiring..at my pace, i dunno if i will ever be able to reach your standards! I'm sorry you had to get sick. Darn it all!!! but, glad you came to the quilting AND blogging world to brighten our days!


  14. It seems there are quite of a few of us people living with auto immune diseases that have taken up quilting! I too learned a lot from watching the quilting tv shows and books and then got busy - lovely quilts!!

  15. Your story and your quilts are inspiring! Thanks for sharing with us - a fun way to start the weekend!
    Jacque in SC

  16. Oh, your post is just what I need to start my day today - you are a hoot! What a great way to quilt - no worries for you, life is far too short!

  17. I loved your post - so inspiring. What could be bettern than the "life" of a quilter. Judy C

  18. Great post, I have visions of but butt-ed women across the globe sitting bottemless quilting. Yikes! is that a vision or what?? :-) :-) Your story is quite inspirational. I can tell it is going to be fun to follow your blog!

  19. Beautiful quilts! Thanks for sharing.

  20. Your quilts are stunning!! Thanks for sharing them with all of us.

  21. "Experiencing your own personal summer!" Good one!! I love that line!! I was experiencing "summer" last night - sitting by the fire, covered with a quilt I'm working on and then had a hot flash! That quilt went flyin! Had I known it was a "personal summer" I might have enjoyed it more! xoxo, Nan

  22. Wow, you took the lemon you were given and made it into lemonade! Beautiful work thank you for sharing.

  23. Thanks for sharing. My mother helped found the MG Association in KY after my 12 year old friend was diagnosed with it. Dreadful disease but your story is impressive.....keep piecing

  24. I love your enthusiasm and your spirit and your excitement! The quilts are lovely and I'm going to remind myself of your words when I get discouraged with my own quilting. blessings, marlene

  25. I almost fainted when I read the first line of your post....eeeek. I thought.... hey wait a minute...what is my name doing on this blog!!!!

    the other Mary Ann Tate

  26. What a great post!!! I love your quilting!!! It's gorgeous!!! Thanks for sharing!!!!

  27. Your quilts are awesome and yes I will come visit you!

  28. Like Sandy, also have fibro and when it is really bad, it is distracting to handsew on quilts. Thanks for the encouragement.

  29. You are a breath of fresh air. I am certainly adding you to my list of happy bloggers. thank you luv mary


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