My name is Chris Dahl, and I am so glad to have this opportunity to share my quilting journey with you.
I live in the Midwest part of the United States, in a suburb about an hour west of Chicago. I have lived in the Midwest my entire life and love the fact that we get to experience all four seasons to the fullest! Although I must admit as I get older I do not enjoy winter as much as I used to. I still love to watch the snow fall, and see the tree branches glisten in the sun after an ice storm. And there is nothing like the pristine look of a snow covered field early in the morning after it snows. All that being said, shoveling or driving in winter is my least favorite part, along with the cold. Not a fan of cold anymore, it gets in the bones and you can’t get it out for hours. Sitting in front of a warm fire with a nice glass of wine does help to melt away some of the ice in the veins!
My quilting journey started approximately 8 years ago. I have been sewing most of my life, with my first sewing class taken in high school. I remember the teacher telling us to make one item from our patterns for the class project. I ended up making all three items, a skirt, pants and a vest! I also enjoy working with yarn, and have taught myself to knit and crochet. Most of my sewing/quilting is self-taught with an occasional class taken here and there.
I remember my father doing sewing for us as children, and my grandmother sewing as well. So I guess it was only natural for me to follow in their foot steps. My grandmother used to let me press the pedal on her treadle machine while she sewed her clothing. She even made tiny little clothes for my Barbie dolls! I still have some of these clothes that my girls played with on their dolls and now I cannot wait to pass them onto my own grandchildren some day. How cool will that be to say “Your great, great, grandma made this!”
Anyway, back to quilting. I discovered quilting by watching a cable show called Simply Quilts with Alex Anderson. Some of you may be familiar with this show. I was so intrigued by the design possibilities of quilting that I just had to try it. I immediately went to the store and bought a book titled “The Complete Guide to Quilting” by Better Homes and Gardens. This became my “quilting bible” and I still refer to it today. I recommend this book to any new quilter as it is written with easy to follow instructions, and fabulous photos. It comes in a paper back and hard cover version. I am glad I spent the extra for the hard cover book with the spiral binding, it lays nice and flat on the table. Through this book I taught myself to quilt. I never took any formal training I just read and started to play with the fabrics. I did not take any classes until 2 or 3 years later.
Around the time I started taking classes, I decided teaching was something I wanted to do. I knew enough about quilting, that I felt I could share with a small group. I found I enjoyed teaching as much as I enjoyed quilting and continued. I get so much pleasure when I see that a student learns something new. I especially enjoyed teaching children. Unfortunately they do not require students to take sewing in school now, it is an elective. What a shame. So many kids don’t even know how to sew on a button.
Once I discovered teaching the real fun began. I went around to community centers; park districts, churches, Girl Scout groups; quilt and fabric shops and I then made it a personal mission to teach as many people about sewing and quilting as I could. I did this for several years. At one point I even ran the education department at my local JoAnn Fabrics. Which gave me good training for the next phase of my life.
This is where you will find me now, teaching quilting online through my blog Quilting Lessons Online and through my online classroom website Quilting Weekly. Both of these venues have allowed me to reach out to more people then I could have imagined before, and there is no travel involved for me or my students! This really is the best of both worlds to me. I do however miss the interaction of a live classroom, and I really miss those “ah ha” moments that would happen in class. But for now I will have to settle for the wonderful e-mails I get from my students who choose to share their successes with me.
I would like to end my story with a simple statement about what quilting means to me.
Quilting is my form of expression. It is part of who I am. Some people might call this an obsession while others call it a passion. But to me quilting is full of creativity and endless possibilities.
Please leave us a comment here and share your thoughts on what quilting means to you. For doing so, you could win a free class at Quilting Weekly. I will pick a random winner from all the entries between now and October 31, 2008 and send the winner a free pass to a class of their choice! This is no Halloween trick. It was a real treat for me to be here, and I want to thank you for reading my story, and thank Michele for giving me this opportunity.
So go ahead leave a comment and tell us what quilting means to you!