Each One Teach One
Katie Peterson of St. Paul, Minnesota, is lucky enough to have a grandma who quilts! In 2006, when Katie wanted to make a quilt as a high school graduation gift for her boyfriend, she called up grandma Kay Sheehan from Oakdale, Minnesota. Kay was delighted when she was asked to teach Katie to quilt, even though she and the employees at the local quilt store were a bit apprehensive about Katie’s plans to give the quilt away to a teenage boy!
Like any quilter, Kay had lots of quilting books, patterns, and magazines. To pick a project, Kay asked Katie to look through her quilt “library.” In the end, Katie chose a pattern that had evergreens and pinecones made from simple squares, rectangles, and triangles.
Katie’s color palette for her quilt was blue, green, and brown. Initially, when she looked at the quilt shop’s fabrics, she was disappointed because she wanted solid blue, green, and brown, not prints. Kay and the shop employees encouraged her to select a variety of prints and plaids. A customer who was shopping for her own quilt suggested a piece of red fabric for the “zing.” Looking back, Kay said it was the perfect choice.
Kay had a second sewing machine so she and Katie set them side-by-side on the dining room table. Although Katie had made small quilts for her American Girls dolls when she was nine, she really didn’t have much sewing experience. She had no rotary-cutting skills at all but was a quick study, even though math isn’t her favorite subject. For the most part, Katie worked independently while her grandma worked on her own project. Kay would explain things a step at a time, and Katie would do that step until she had the top completed.
Katie’s quilt was pretty ambitious for a beginner. It was a queen-size quilt, but by working at it consistently, in between school and her part-time job, she was able to finish the top in about a month. Katie sent it out to be professionally quilted, then sewed on the binding, but couldn’t convince Kay to do the hand stitching. Kay feels it wouldn’t truly be Katie’s quilt if she hadn’t done all the work.
Kay loves the fact that she had this one-on-one time with Katie. Already close to her granddaughter, she feels having shared memories of making the quilt brings them even closer, something she didn’t have with her own grandmother. She’s very proud of Katie and her first quilt. The next project they have planned together is a scrappy tote bag, starting it by digging through Kay’s stash to find the perfect pieces! And Katie has her eye on another, more challenging quilt pattern. She’ll fit these projects in among her college classes.
Oh, and about the boyfriend…. After her high school prom, Katie deemed him “not quilt worthy.” The quilt resides in her new apartment where she snuggles under it while she studies.
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