Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bonnie Lehman - a humble, but heartfelt, tribute...

I just read on Barbara Brackman's blog about the passing of Bonnie Lehman, who started Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, now Quilter's Newsletter.  It caused a sad and unexpected lump in my throat. 

Even though my grandmother quilted, I didn't start quilting until 1982 when my grandmother was in her last year of life and very sick.  She gave me her last quilt, A Grandmother's Flower garden, hand pieced of scraps from some of my hilarious homemade wardrobe through the seventies (when I was a teenager).  Here's a picture of her treasured last quilt (Weasley is checking it out):
I am a self-taught sewer and quilter who made (and still makes!) embarrassing mistakes on quilts (and clothes!).  Here's my first attempt at making a quilt...a hand pieced Grandmother's Flower Garden (still unfinished...currently one of those dusty U.F.O.'s (or P.I.G.S. - projects in grocery sacks...).  And I had never even heard of English paper piecing!  LOL!

Get a load of all that calico and the bright cotton/poly blue blend that I put the flowers together with (that blue was left over from making my college dorm curtain!)  Back then, there weren't a lot of good "how to" books out there to help floundering quilters like me.  Thank God I found Quilter's Newsletter Magazine!!  It was my first subscription to any kind of magazine in my life, and I was always hungrily looking for the next issue.

I loved the patterns, the articles, but especially editorial articles by Helen Kelly, who also died in the last couple of years.  Reading the magazine made me feel connected to the quilting community, which was great for me as a young college student, busy studying chemistry and music at Auburn University.

It was publications like Bonnie's that brought quilting "out from under the bed" for all of us.  When I first started sewing and quilting, the choice of 100% cotton fabrics was the pits!  Now look where we are, baby!  (Does this mean I can blame her for the hoarded stash in my basement?!?)

I made this Lemoyne Star quilt, unfortunately, before I learned the proper way to piece an 8-pointed star.  I think this dates from 1984.
Just look at all that plain muslin and cute calico prints!  And no one told me that the quilting cross-hatching (or echo quilting) from area to area had to be the same size and scale!!  HILARIOUS!!

Then look at how much hand quilting it took to get the star center to lie flat and not resemble a circus tent!!
I used to use plain muslin on all my backings and fold the back to the front for my lumpy binding.  OMG!

It's a little scary and humbling, showing you the "dreaded Lemoyne Star."  I feel a little like "my knickers are showing..."  I donated that quilt for an unknown baby years ago - I almost wish I still had the quilt (glad I at least have a couple of bad photos), and I know the baby didn't care, or even appreciate, how funny his or her quilt really

I am so grateful for all the books, patterns and magazines that we have now.  I feel like Bonnie Lehman started all of it (I may be a little biased...).  I love all the new modern patterns we have now (not to mention the option of machine quilting), but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the older classics that I learned about from the earlier days of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine and the feel of quilts that are hand quilted.

(The first quilt picture on this post is a hand pieced scrappy bowtie quilt - I got the pattern for the bowtie square from QNM many years ago.  I used to keep little fabric pieces in a baggie in my purse to hand piece when I had a spare moment.  It is one of my U.F.O.'s - I just need to finish hand quilting the corners of the borders.  In Bonnie's honor, I will push myself to finally finish this quilt!)

In stitches (and in memory),
Teresa  :o)


  1. thanks for stopping by my blog - I too have a grandmothers flower garden that I made with regular hand piecing and did not hear of English paper piecing until recent years - I am self taught also and have lots of mistakes to prove it :)

  2. Teresa, what a great tribute to Bonnie and Helen and your granny...! Goes to show that some natural talent (your LeMoyne really IS amazing for a beginner! Wish my first effort were even close!) and some good tools (such a blessing that we've had QNM and all those that followed!) and the heritage of those gone before make it possible to do things they would never have dreamed!
    Beautiful, beautiful!
    Mary Lou

  3. Teresa Your flower garden quilt is beautiful. I think that's a great first effort. And, aren't you glad that you have one that your Grandmother made? I still love the traditional patterns...great bow tie quilt. Sad news about Bonnie Lehman.

  4. It's so sad to hear of Bonnie's passing.

    Your LeMoyne quilt is WONDERFUL. I would hate to see my first few quilts, as I was self taught too.


  5. Oh, how sad about Bonnie.
    I subscribe to that magazine and learned a lot from it when I was a beginner quilter. I am mostly self taught too through magazine and books. It is great to see some of your first quilts and your grandma's. thanks for sharing

  6. IT was sad to hear the news.
    I love the photos of you GFG - the bright one is especially great -
    The star quilt has a great color combo.
    nice post!


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