Friday, April 19, 2024

Q is for Quilt


#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter Q

I am in the process of sorting through everything in my parents' home, and in so doing, I have been looking through all my childhood memorabilia, the majority of which I hadn't seen since my parents packed up my belongings and moved them from the home I grew up in to this house some 45 years ago. My 2024 A to Z Challenge theme is based on the treasures I have found in the boxes and the drawers and closets. Join me on my bittersweet journey back to my childhood.

My mother hated to sew.

Her aunt Edith (Ecie, as she was called by the family) was a beautiful seamstress. She made clothes for herself and her sister Daisy, as well as making clothes for my mom, including her wedding dress, which she made from a drawing my mom made of what she envisioned, and for me.

My mom did not get the sewing gene from Ecie, but in the 70s, probably as a cost-saving measure, she made herself some clothes. She put her sewing machine on the living room floor, so she could watch "Edge of Night" and "One Life To Live" as she worked, and she sat on the floor and operated the foot pedal with an outstretched leg. There was much snarling and swearing as she worked, but she did turn out some double-knit tank tops in all their glorious 1970s patterns and colors.

Quilting got a resurgence in the 1980s. My mom loved quilts, and she had many that had been pieced and quilted by her mother and Ecie, as well as some that dated back even further. These quilts were made with scrap fabrics left from making the family's clothing, as well as from feed sacks. The 1980s quilts were made with calico fabric in 1980s shades that had been selected and purchased just for the quilt project and were not made from random materials.

I do not know how she managed it, but a one of my mom's friends talked her into taking a quilting class. I believe the friend was able to convince her to take the class because, instead of piecing and sewing the design and stitching all of it together, and then quilting this voluminous  amount of fabric, they would be making a quilt one square at a time and quilting it as they went along, sewing each square together when all the squares were completed. How hard could it be?

My mom bought yards and yards of coordinated calico fabrics and cotton batting. She purchased a special wooden frame for making the quilt squares, and she set out to work.

Some time into the first square, and only a few days after starting the class and the initial excitement of making a quilt with the exact colors and patterns she had chosen, my mom remembered how much she hated sewing. Hated it. HATED it.

I found the quilt rack and fabric (already cut out into pieces and just waiting for her to sew them together) in a plastic bag in the back of my old bedroom closet a couple of weeks ago. I know she had high hopes of turning out a handmade quilt, and she meant well when she signed up for the class, but let's face it, she was NEVER going to make that quilt. She got mad and frustrated when she sewed a simple tank top with two seams and a hem!

The first (and last) square. She gets a lot of
credit for putting all the pieces together!

Perhaps the straw (or stitch) that finally broke
the camel's back....

This is how far she got with quilting the square....

My mom was no quitter. But she definitely wasn't a quilter, either!


  1. It's funny how quilting can be an obsession with some and no interest or too difficult for others. My mother in law fit in the first category and I'm in the second. I love having handmade quilts but not making them myself.

  2. I love the bit about it being the stitch that broke the camel's back!

  3. If your mother always sewed sitting on the floor like that, no wonder she hated it. I can't even imagine. The square she did looks good though. I always just made patches, squares. Only one with fancy cuts.
    I made a quilt with African print scraps for all of my grandchildren. 14 of them. I can tell you that by the time I got down towards the end I wondered why I ever started that tradition. That's the problem with traditions, they go on forever.

  4. Like your mother's aunt liked sewing, my father used to stitch handkerchiefs and repair dresses that had torn. We had a handdriven sewing machine. A very old. A couple of years ago, we gave it away, since no one at home now was using it. Sewing is a nice and creative hobby.

  5. I always hope when I leave a crafts store that I have the motivation to finish the projects that I was so excited about when making my purchase.