I come from a long line of quilters. As a child, I recall sitting in front of the fireplace on cold winter days with my Mom and Grandmother cutting out pieces for quilts. Grandma was one of 13 children and she grew up making quilts out of necessity. She had a few that were decorative and precious, but most were made to keep warm. She wasn't above putting curtains and double-knit in her quilts if it produced something useable. She made me a beautiful Sunbonnet Sue when I was a child that I have loved and treasured. I was fortunate to be one of the oldest grandchildren so that I could enjoy some of her more productive sewing years; the first time I remember sewing was on her tredle machine.
One of my early childhood memories was going to Kentucky to visit relatives. After the pleasantries had been exchanged, Mom's cousin pulled out a stack of quilts and we got to see them all--from utilitarian to blue-ribbon appliqued roses. It was quite a treat. I distinctly remember all the ooh's and ahh's that were given when the roses came out. Even the men sat up and took notice!
Mom quilted a little here and there. She made a couple until my older brother was born, then she concentrated on clothes and other projects until we were in high school. One summer Grandma sent me a dog pattern and showed me how to button-hole stitch it onto the background. I had tons of fun pulling out fabric and cutting out my blocks. As I watched television, I would work on the blocks. Before I knew it, at least half were done and I was able to complete the rest as a home economics assignment for class. Mom stripped out the blocks, Grandma tacked it together and I was so proud of that quilt!
In college I opted for Folklife and Folklore as an alternative to the required Pop Culture class. Our project had to be some part of folkore/folklife and include interviews, visual aids, book research, the written paper and the oral presentation. I ran to the front of the class and signed up for quilts before anyone else could get it! Until this project, it was something I knew relatives had been involved in, but I really had no idea of the depth of heritage it gave our family. Some relatives from Kentucky were visiting when I needed to do my interviews, so I just sat up a tape recorder and let them reminisce for the rest of the afternoon, only prompting them occassionally with questions. It was so endearing to hear the stories of harder times; putting the frame on a pulley which was pulled to the ceiling at dinner and down in the main area when they were quilting. Of real quilting bees. Of comments like "her stitches were so big, you could hang a toenail." Of cooking dinner in the fireplace and embers jumping toward the quilt. Of brushing lambs and creating pallets of wool to use for stuffing. Of choosing feedsacks. Of parents never allowing an idle moment. Of friendship and wedding quilts. Of strong family ties and precious memories.
As a direct result of that project and insight to my family, I determined to give quilting a shot in my adult years. I still wouldn't call my craftsmanship excellent, but it does improve with each succeeding piece of work. I have two cousins who are very artistically inclined that are going to give quilting a shot. I'll let you know when to look out for their work at the national competitions. =)
If you'd like to take a look at some of the things I've done, please click below.
My Mother also took up quilting again a few years later and she is quite a seamstress and has excellent taste in fabric and color choices. She is definitely an inspiration to me. Here are a few of the things she has worked on.
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