Hi! I am so grateful for the opportunity to share a few memories with you!
I grew up in a family full of talented women. My mother is a brilliant florist- she takes a simple flower and turns it into a memory. Flowers are an important part of our lives. They were sent to our mothers when we were born; they are with us, clutched tight in sweaty palms, on our wedding day; our husbands send them to us as a token of their love and appreciation. Colorful, beautiful flowers…
My aunt, my mother’s sister, teaches high school Home Economics. She is a brilliant seamstress. She used to sew teeny tiny Barbie Doll clothes for me. She would use fantastic fabrics and add the most intricate detail to those tiny outfits. It was my aunt that taught me how to sew. I would visit her for several weeks each summer and one summer, when I was probably 8 or 9 years old, she and I made a patchwork teddy bear. She sat at the machine with me, for hours and days, piecing little scraps of fabric together until they took the form of a bear that would be loved to literal shreds!
My Grandma Peggy gave her love of flowers to my mother and her love of sewing to my aunt. Grandma used to sew all of my dresses – fantastic frocks with ruffles and lace. She even sewed a sling for my little broken arm to match my Easter dress…
I can remember watching her piece together a quilt. I loved the sound of the scissors as the blades came together, echoing through the table. To this day, that is my favorite sound. I love to gently unfold yards of fabric and start cutting. I can close my eyes and see my Grandma’s face, little glasses perched on the end of her nose; the smell of Coty powder and Avon hand cream…
Several months ago my aunt cleaned out her attic and offered boxes of sewing materials to me. A lot of the contents belonged to my grandmother. There were yards and yards of fabric, an old Polyfill bag full of carefully rolled and tied fabric scraps, buttons, unopened packages of Ric-Rac, seam binding, elastic, machine needles, hand needles, etc. It was so exciting to go through these items and know that the last person to touch them was probably my Grandma.
The bag of scraps was probably the most entertaining. My aunt would pick up a scrap of fabric and share with me the memory of the dress that was made from it. Most of the scraps were from Sunday dresses made for my mom and aunt in the 60’s and 70’s. Some of the scraps I was able to recognize because they were from dresses made for me.
My aunt and I shared the same memory of Grandma’s button tin. She told me she would carefully remove the tin box from Grandma’s bottom drawer, take the lid off and run her fingers through the buttons, lifting up a handful of the shiny, colored plastic discs to examine them and then return each little wonder to their safe home. I used to do the exact same thing!
Now, the button tin resides on a high shelf in my sewing room, safe from little hands and curious minds. I open it from time to time and remember being small, sitting cross-legged on Grandma’s bedroom floor, examining each button.
Last July, just before my birthday, I was shopping for some fabric to recover our dining room chairs when I discovered Amy Butler’s line. I thought they were beautiful, but not quite right for my dining room, however, I could not pass them up. I visited her website and found free quilt patterns and decided to try quilting. I had no formal training; I just went by the memories of watching my Grandma. I’m sure I did everything wrong; I still don’t know the proper way to bind a quilt; I just do it so that it looks pretty to me.
My first quilt was hand-pieced and hand-quilted and took me around two months to complete. I got some advice from a kind lady at our local fabric shop and I am so proud of my little masterpiece.
I have made several quilts since then, one given to my mother-in-law for her birthday, which featured pictures of my two children.
I enjoy hand-quilting, but have moved on to machine piecing because it is less time consuming. My dad gave me his sewing machine, a 1950-something Singer Slant Needle. It’s just a straight stitch machine, but it is a real workhorse! I love how heavy and sturdy it is and it also feels really good to use a machine that has been around for a while. I plan to use it until it is beyond repair!
I am so grateful to my aunt for teaching me how to sew and to my Grandma for instilling in me the love of the art of quilting. It is so special to me to pass on this love to my children, in the hopes that they will pass it on to their children and grandchildren.
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