Hi everyone! This is Teresa from Fabric Therapy, happy to be invited back to share something with you from my quilt cave. Thank you to Madame Samm for the opportunity to talk about something very near and dear to my heart...PERSONAL QUILT ARCHIVING.
This is an album where I archive the quilts and other projects that I make. Well, this is actually volume two!!
I have not always done this, but I started trying to get a picture for each project in the late 1980s. There have been some that I have missed, but with digital photography it is much easier to get pictures now (I was
SO-O-O happy to retire the little Kodak 126 Insta-Matic 35mm film camera!!).
Sometimes it is hard to let go of the quilts we give as gifts...especially when there is no picture taken for reference. When I make a quilt for someone, there are a lot of memories tied up in the experience...I can look at some quilts and remember major world events (do you remember what you were quilting on or around 9/11/01?). My husband reads aloud to me sometimes when I am sewing...I still associate certain books and movies with particular quilts. Also, quilts remind me of momentous life experiences, good and bad...quilting is my therapy!
It is fun to look back and relive the history. I try to save some little swatches of dominant fabrics due to photography not always showing the true colors, especially on projects I design myself.
At a minimum, there are certain facts I record:
1) NAME OF QUILT
2) RECIPIENT and/or OCCASION MADE FOR
4) DATE STARTED
5) DATE FINISHED
There are many kinds of ways to do this. I like scrapbooks with heavy pages that I can write and glue on. Some people like to make digital photo books, where you upload your images to a commercial picture site like http://www.shutterfly.com/ to make a beautiful, bound photo book. I have made some digital photo books for family pictures, but I still like the old-fashioned scrapbooking method for quilt archiving because I like to glue in little fabric swatches and sometimes a graph paper sketch, like on this page (the entry below shows that a bad picture is better than no picture at all!).
There are also some published quilt diaries that I have seen just for this purpose. All you have to do is glue in a picture and write some notes. Easy, easy!
The only problem I have with the published, pre-formatted books is that they make it hard to document a quilt where you want to archive several close ups of quilt features or blocks. I've done a couple of anniversary quilts where I designed original quilt blocks to document certain personal details of the recipient's lives. The blank format book works for me because I have the freedom to document each block, if I want to, like on this anniversary quilt for my in-laws.
I'm always preaching to students and friends about the importance of either attaching a label or signing the actual backing of a quilt with an archival fabric pen (Pigma or similar). I have enjoyed following efforts in almost every state that find and document our country's precious quilt history. Your quilts will want to be identified and admired in the same way some day, even if only by you and your family! Applying labels to projects is one way of helping this documentation process...quilt diaries are another.
I used to worry about adding some sort of page decoration to each page, but that was overkill. Fabric swatches and quilt pictures are plenty of color and page adornment. I'm finding that keeping it simple is the best way to guarantee keeping things current. When I start a new project, I put a simple index card in the box or bag containing the project. On the card I record the name, starting date, and any important details. Using pinking shears, I cut little squares of dominant fabrics as I'm cutting my pieces and attach them to the card with a small binder clip (you can also staple them or put the whole thing in a small sandwich - or pattern ziploc bag).
(Some people like to keep track of the hours over time that they spend working on a particular project, especially when selling the item later...that can be done on the backside of the same index card, kept in the project box.)
Once the project is finished, I make my page. I like to use double-sided sticky squares to attach pictures and paper sketches. I like tacky glue or little dots of my Roxanne's glue baste to adhere the fabric swatches.
Don't be afraid or embarrassed about your writing...it's historic and personal!! I used to try and use sticker letters or word-processed paragraphs, but soon learned to love my own writing for it's organic simplicity. It's important to keep this process simple so that you will keep up with it! Besides, you don't want this to eat into valuable quilting/sewing time!
Don't worry about catching up with previous projects all at once. Start now! As you have the time and inclination, you can archive past projects that you have pictures for. Since everything is dated, even approximately, it doesn't matter if projects are out of chronological order. We may start them in chronological order, but most of us don't finish them that way! The finish date can be the most fun information you save. I love it when the start and finish date are almost 20 years apart (like this one)!
I like this one because the start date was summer 1991 and the finish date is January 2008. I really pushed myself to finish this UFO after 17 years.
I still have not finished the first quilt I ever started. It is a UFO that I probably will finish...some day. Until then, I have a page with progress pictures and a start date from the early 1980's. It will be fun to have a finish date on that one some day...most likely 20 years after starting it, LOL!
Here is is in its little UFO bucket with its little card...I can't believe I used electric blue to connect the flowers...(groan). And it is a polyester/cotton blend...(horrors). It was left over from making my humble dorm room curtains in college, LOL! And all the flowers are made from calicoes from the 1970s, back when there was NO VARIETY in quilting fabric. I think I used the same calico print in five different colors for this top! Teresa still gets her blue groove on!!
My grandmother was a very prolific quilter. The picture above is the only one I know of in our family's photo collection that shows her actually working on a quilt. There are no pictures of any of her quilts, except for the ones in my possession, the ones I photographed after she passed in 1982. As much as I hate having MY picture taken, I encourage YOU to appear in some of those pictures with your quilts.
Using a blank scrapbook allows me to be really brief with some of my pictures and descriptions as well long-winded on other, bigger projects.
Can you tell I really LOVED this music fabric line when it came out?? Still do - I wish I had bought a whole bolt of each fabric in the line! I glued in LOTS of fabric swatches!
Here is the same basic quilt done with some favorite black/white and hot pink fabrics. God bless me, I LOVE FABRIC!!
Archiving this quilt helped me to remember how I designed the quilt to utilize 288 tiny nine-patch blocks that were SUPPOSED to all be the same size. I had to come up with a setting that allowed me to use all of them because they were made by friends during a year of swapping, and I wanted to use each and every one!
A quilt diary is also a great way to document items that you sell.
Now, for the FUN part! I want to give away 3 albums, with extra pages, to encourage you to start documenting your own quilt history. Leave a comment on this post on Stash Manicure by midnight, Sunday, February 20 to be eligible to win either a medium size (8.5 x 11 inch) album or a small size (7 x 7 inch) album, both with extra pages. I will be giving away a large format (12 x 12) album over at my blog, Fabric Therapy so leave a comment there as well by midnight, Sunday, February 20. Three chances to win...YIPPEE! Your loved ones will be the ultimate winners as you keep a historic record of your lovely work.
The small one has a hip, denim cover - very chic!
Keep those needles humming!
Teresa of Fabric Therapy