Saturday, February 21, 2009


These two big boxes arrived in the mail last week. My mother-in-law has given up on quilting for several legitimate reasons, and I am the happy recipient of her castoffs. I know, I know. If any of us decided to get rid of our quilting things, there is no way we could fit them into two boxes. But this is the second time she's taken up quilting and dropped it for other things, so she never did have the accumulation of quilting-specific items that the more rabid of us amass.

I credit this woman for kick-starting my own obsession with quilting. She didn't introduce me to it, but because she had taken a class and decided to make each of her adult children a quilt, I suddenly had someone to talk about quilting to, and to eventually collaborate on a project with. It was hand quilting the queen size top she had appliqued that made me realize this was the craft I wanted to devote all my time to. It wasn't long until I phased out my other needlecraft to concentrate on quilting.

My husband and I were the first recipients of her quilt-for-each-child efforts. I was so grateful because she chose my favorite pattern at the time, one that I fully intended to make for us - a log cabin quilt. Now I wouldn't have to and could move on to other favorites! This was back in the late 70's, I think, and before she was able to finish it, we'd traded in our double bed for a queen. Of course, she was doing this in secret so couldn't sputter her displeasure to us as she refigured the number of blocks she'd need to add and the extra time it would take to hand quilt it. Yes, she hand quilted a queen size log cabin quilt. Well, back in those days, nearly everything was hand quilted. And by the time she got to quilt number three, she had had her fill of making big hand quilted bed quilts. That's how the collaboration came about. I was having an awful time finding the time to piece or applique tops, but I could always find minutes here and there for the hand quilting that I so enjoyed. If she'd make the top, I'd quilt it and bind it. It could be a gift from both of us. And after that quilt, I'd found my true creative love and there was no turning back.

And here we are in the next century, where no one thinks twice about sending a top out to be machine quilted, where quilting fabric and a plethora of threads, books, patterns and gadgets are readily available, unlike those days when she and I were first learning the craft. I have let it take over my life while she realizes she just doesn't enjoy the process as much as she enjoys the finished product, and that there are other things she would rather spend her time on. I can respect that. And gladly accept what little she's collected along the way. In those boxes I found the small pieces of many fabrics she'd bought for the Baltimore-style applique she got interested in after seeing some dimensional flowers I'd made. Those fabrics may be15 years old, but still usable. There's a zip-lock bag of Christmas-themed fabric which may be even older. Then there's other relatively small pieces of more modern fabric from a recent class she took to familiarize herself with "modern" techniques like rotary cutting and flip & sew. There's also major yardage for a 2nd wall hanging she'd planned to make for her dining room. The first one she made last year and is bright primary colors; this second one she wanted to be more Christmassy. But then reality sunk in and she knew she wasn't up to it, just didn't have any interest in pursuing it or struggling with it. So I've offered to make her something from the fabric and she is grateful. Well, it's not much to ask, especially since she was gifting me her things.

There were other odds and ends but the most personally exciting thing in the boxes was a bag of hand-dyed velvets and cotton sateens. These are really cool, and came from her childhood friend Lois T Smith of Machine Quiltmaking fame. Besides teaching machine piecing and quilting, Lois also dabbles in fabric dyeing and these are some of her efforts. A nice connection and something I'm sure will soon work its way into my artsier quilts.

1 comment:


The colours of the velvets and cotton sateens are beautiful - vibrant and warm. Lucky old you!