Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My First Quilt: The Salt Lake Temple

The Temple is built . . . of earthly materials to construct a place that inspires heavenly awe. -Rabbi Wayne Dosick, "How Goodly Is Your Temple, O Mormons," San Diego Jewish Times, March 20, 1993

I recently read a post where the blogger showed her very first quilt and said she'd love to see other first quilts. I ran through the details in my mind and this is the first quilt I started, but I think the second quilt I finished. So, I'm going to call it my first quilt. I started it the summer I turned 15 and worked on it until I couldn't stand it any more. We eventually took the frames down, leaving the quilt on the cross-boards and just rolling it up for storage. I finished it within a couple months of turning 18. Click on any of the photos for a closer look.

This is a hand quilted (almost entirely by me but my mom did help), queen-size (90" x 108") wholecloth quilt done in tricot and polyester batting. The tricot on top is white and the thread, backing and binding is a very pale turquoise color. We bought the center pattern and then took it and the top fabric to a lady my mom knew; someone in my Grandma's ward (LDS-speak for parish or congregation) but my mom couldn't remember her name when we talked about it. This sweet woman pulled out a piece of ply-wood big enough to fit on top of her bed and a border pattern, which included the lines and the scalloped frame around the center. The pattern was for only one quarter of a quilt, but it was drawn on both sides of an old sheet, the back a mirror image of the front. She folded the fabric in four, marked the center, lined the pattern up with the fabric and placed it on the board across the bed and we traced out the borders in pencil, flipping and rotating the pattern so that we came up with a complete design, minus the center. Then we finished by tracing the center pattern inside the scalloped frame. It was pretty amazing to go to this woman's home and have her share her experience and patterns and love of quilting with us. She told us that we could use any old thread, and to just dip it in melted paraffin wax, and that would make it stronger and keep it from getting tangled.

We set up the frames in a corner of our basement family room and I went to work. My little brother and sisters would crawl under the quilt to play. I climbed under there a time or too. It was neat to see the pattern emerging in the blank fabric. I remember listening to re-runs of The Brady Bunch on TV while stitching.

This is the stitching on the back of the quilt in the corner where I started. It is a little uneven and a little big but it's not too bad, especially considering this is the back.

This is the center of the quilt, some of the final stitches, again from the back. My stitches got more even and smaller. I hadn't looked at this quilt in a really long time, so I was actually surprised that I'd done a pretty respectable job with the hand quilting.

I had also forgotten how beautiful the roses along the borders were. Here's a close-up of part of a line of roses. Some of the pencil markings did not wash out. The pencil really shows in the leaves at the bottom left of the large rose.

It's been 22 years since I started this quilt. Here are a couple of things I wish I had known. First, I read somewhere that the polyester batting will eventually wear the stitches away. I've actually seen that happen on an old quilt that my mom's grandma made for her, but I didn't know it was the batting that caused the stitches to disappear. And I wish we'd have used hand quilting thread. I imagine that we used Dual Duty because the lady who helped us get started said it didn't matter and it was easy to find in a color that matched. It was probably also to save a little money.

I have pondered a lot over the details of my first projects and have come to the conclusion that they were all on my mother's dime. And that is simply amazing to me. She spent her time driving me around and then paid for my fabric and got me the help I needed to succeed. I'm really grateful that she instilled in me a love of creativity and then helped me to grow that into a talent. She was my first enabler.

This is a close-up of the center of the quilt. The building is the Salt Lake LDS Temple.

Upon arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, one of the first things members of the Church did was to mark a site for the building of a temple. Construction began almost immediately, and lasted for forty years. Men donated one in ten days of labor to the construction of the temple. Granite was cut out of a nearby canyon, blocks cut to specific dimensions and then hauled by teams of oxen down the canyon to the temple site. Women volunteered as well, sewing clothing for construction workers, and filling in with help wherever needed. They used the finest materials available and every detail of construction was precise. It was a labor of love and a symbol of the dedication and devotion these men women felt for their Savior, Jesus Christ.

You may wonder why a building of worship was constructed at so great a sacrifice. On Sunday I posted a video about why the temples are so important. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe that we are children of God, placed in families here on earth to help and take care of each other, and to find our way back to live with our Heavenly Father again after this life. In the temple marriage is performed, sealing or linking a husband and wife together not just for this life, but as a family after death. Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families. -Russell M. Nelson

This is Mr. Bug and me on our wedding day in November of 1996. We were married in the Salt Lake Temple. This was almost six years after I'd finished my quilt. We hung the quilt on display at our reception.

P.S. I would love to see your first quilt. Leave me a link in the comments and I'll check it out!


Linda said...

what a beautiful piece, special tribute to your faith, and wam family memories all rolled into one. I love to hand quilt, so I really appreciate all that went into this piece. Thanks for sharing it,

coley said...

That is a beautiful first quilt! The first one I did all by myself, you have already seen. But I will post pictures of the one I first cut out and had grandma's help with!

Shay said...

I love the way you weave a story Elizabeth.

Your first quilt is absolutely amazing. Hand quilted. Goodness! Thnaks for showing us and telling us the story associated with it. I'll have to see if I can remember what the first quilt I made was!

Your wedding picture is beautiful too. That is certainly an impressive building in the background.

Michelle said...

Gorgeous quilt! The quilting itself is beautiful (your beginning stitches were not bad at all) and that scalloped border is perfect with picture.

Thanks for sharing the history of the building of the temple too.

Thanks so much for sharing. Okay, I'll blog on my first quilt in a few days.

Elizabeth said...

Wow! That's an amazing first quilt. Great hand-quilting, very ambitious.

I know my parents' support and encouragement helped develop my skills and creativity as well. I hope I learned their lesson to help my kids find their interests instead of forcing mine.