Monday, October 19, 2015

How I discovered that quilting is a real thing

Hi, I'm Tanja, you can find me on Instagram at @flyingmargarete

I currently work and live in Astana, Kazakhstan, with my amazing, kind and funny husband and my two girls, two and four years old. My heart still belongs to rural northern Bavaria, where I grew up and where we will return to next summer.
Astana is the second coldest capital in the world (second to Ulan Batoor), and we choose it as a calm place to raise our kids after some adventorous years in not so cold and not so calm Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Turns out, evenings are very, very long when winter lasts for seven month and you can't spent every evening hanging out at the next shashlik place with your friends as you used to do, because you have kids. Turns out if you live in a rough frontier place - you feel the need to quilt.
I have always been a knitter, and as a student, I saw a beautiful quilt pattern on the Rowan home page. I would have loved to try, but nobody quilts in Germany, so I had no idea what to do and where to get fabric - and of course no money for the fabulous Free spirit fabric I saw. 6,25 EUR for a skein of Regia yarn was a frivolious luxury in these days.
Fast forward five years, I had my first real job and an amazing mother-in-law - a real quilter! So my daughter got this amazing baby quilt, and I bought the only fat quarter bundle my favourite yarn shop happend to carry.

At that time, in 2011, blogs were blocked on the kazakh internet, for whatever reason. I did even feel a little bit adventorous and forbidden to download Rachel Hausers Color Brick Quilt tutorial via various vpns. I had no sewing machine, and I was not sure if I would like that new hobby, so I handpieced and handquilted the entire color brick quilt from my random fat quarters. Took me a year, but after that, I knew quilting is a real thing, so I bought a sewing machine after I was done.

Another blogger, the amazing Barbara taught me that you can actually order fabric online and in the States, and evenings were not boring any more.

I made a number of baby quilts for my friends back home in the following years, and all the scraps  gradually became a scrappy log cabin quilt that is now our family picknick quilt. My kids basically spent the whole summer on it, and I love that it reminds me of all that babies and friends.

Last year, I read Anna Maria Horner's blogpost about her Pretty Potent collection, and it really touched me. I also just had a baby, my second one, and although everything was fine and everybody was healthy, I realized that I was also in need of some healing. That's what every women needs after giving birth and having her life changed completly by having kids. So I stiched a quilt just for me, and I called it Healing Triangles. I really, really like it, I even take it to business trips when I know nights in post-soviet hotels will be chilly.

It took me forever to get the triangles all right, but it was worth it. I kept ripping seams for three month until I got it right, and that was a healing experience somehow. Tutorial is also by Stiched in Color, which is clearly my favourite quilter.

So, that's my story. I have one more Astana winter in front of me and and a lengthy project list that I think I need to finish by then - because my quilting days may be over with a new job, outdoor activities finally possible again, friends and family really close and my grandmothers old farm house to renovate.

If you don't mind, I'll share my project list with you and try to get started on some of those quilts. I would love to get your advice!

Looking forward to a great week with all of you!



  1. I love the stories of your quilts. I hope you get to make many more in the future.

  2. You are awesome! I really enjoyed your story!

  3. What a super quilting story! I am also in a frontier-ish environment, but in my own country, so maybe not quite so frontier as you! Enjoy your winter of projects...and returning to family and friends :)