Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Our Family of Quilters (and sewers)

5 August 2015

This blog post is a partial testimony to my quilting and sewing heritage. We are lucky to own pieces of our past from both sides of my family.

My grandmothers were both sewers, but I don't think I'd really call either of them quilters.

Grandma Ruth had a sewing room full of fabric, machines and projects. As kids, we weren't allowed in the sewing room unless we had shoes on, and we quickly found out why when we'd sneak in, in our stocking feet, only to come upon an upturned pin on the floor. Grandma's stash would have been the envy of us all! Her closet was full of fabrics, pillow forms, stuffing, fabrics rolled on tubes and boxes full of patterns and other crafting supplies. My mother's mother was a true "craftsman", in that she dabbled in lots of making. From scherenschnitte (paper cutting) to costume making, curtains, clothes and stuffed toys, she really made it all. I remember the Christmas when Cabbage Patch Kids were first available, my sister and I received handmade dolls instead. I'm sure that I'm more thrilled now to have that wonderful gift than I was at the time!                   

The only real textile relic from mom's side of the family is a wonderful quilt that we attribute to my grandfather's mother. This feathered star is one of my prized possessions.

My Grandma Frances had a wonderful sewing "basket", which was really a green metal tin with a lid painted with flowers and two handles that folded up over for easy transport. My sister and I loved to rifle through the treasures inside - ribbons, all carefully rolled; two wooden sock darners, one painted black and worn with use and one a natural stained wood color; hand embroidered pin cushions filled with pins of all sizes; old wooden spools of thread; several silver colored thimbles of various sizes; and an assortment of embroidery flosses in different colors and lengths. I'm not sure I remember ever seeing Grandma Frances actually sewing, but I have items that she sewed. I do remember learning to crochet with her, sitting with her on the couch and endlessly double crocheting. I can only double crochet and an afghan that I started in college is still in progress. One of my favorite things that Grandma Frances ever made was her denim applique quilt.

Grandma's mother, Grandma Bertha was an amazing seamstress and stitcher. We have a treasure trove of her items ranging from free form embroideries to lightweight quilts made from the remnants she took after working in the local shirt mill. Here is one called "Nutting in October's Woods".

I think the one true textile "heirloom" from this side of the family is the mourning quilt that lives at my dad's house. It was made in the 1930's after my grandfather's sister, Betty, was killed. She was walking to a piano lesson that she didn't want to attend, when she was struck by the trolley in Eden, PA, just outside of Lancaster. The quilt, shown below, was made from Betty's dresses by the women of Eden. Completely hand quilted, it is a sight to behold.

I sure hope you've had as much fun reading this post as I have had writing it! Family is such a blessing and to have wonderful things to go along with wonderful memories, is truly the best.

See you tomorrow, when I show you yet another quilting hat that I am privileged to wear!

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