Friday, November 26, 2010

An appreciation of your quilting heritage

Today I met a woman who has a true love of quilts. She does not sew, but admires her grandmother who has made many quilts by hand. She says she has several and cherishes them all. Her grandmother still sews, but not by hand these days due to arthritis. The grandmother sells her quilts to bed and breakfasts in Fairbanks.

The woman I met said that her grandmother has quilts on all her beds and she loves that it is very homey there. Her favorite quilt is one her grandmother made using yoyos. She did not know what they were called but described them to me as "circles of fabric that you sew around the edges and pull the thread tight to make a smaller circle that looks like a flower and sew them all together. She said it is not the most comfortable quilt to lie on but she loves how it looks on her bed. She also told me that she has several of her grandmother’s quilts in her home, on beds and hanging on the walls.

This woman has a true appreciation for her heritage, and says that one day she would like to learn to quilt herself, but at the present does not have time with working, going to school, and raising her daughter.

I told her that taking the time to learn is some thing she will cherish later in life when she has quilts she has made to pass onto her grandchildren along with those her grandmother made. I also told her that quilting is a great stress reducer and very relaxing.

I hope that she takes my advice and signs up for a beginning quilting class, and may her daughter will go along with her and learn as well.

I have taught my boys to sew and both have taken quilting classes and I hope that they have a true appreciation of the quilts that are passed on to them by me, both those that I have made and those that were made by past generations of their family. I know that they like having quilts on their beds, ones made by me and ones made by them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Bindings are the things that hold us together. Families are bound together as one. Quilts, too. are held together by bindings. Did you every think, really think about the definition of the word bindings.

Dictionary .Com says
  1. the act of fastening, securing, uniting, or the like.
2. anything that binds.
3. the covering within which the leaves of a book are bound.
4. a strip of material that protects or decorates the edge of a tablecloth, rug, etc.
5. Skiing. a mechanical device on a ski, usually made of metal that fastens the boot securely to the ski.
6. that binds; restrictive.
7. having power to bind or oblige; obligatory: a binding promise.

We are bound to our families by blood, culture, heritage, and history. Love of family, is like the love we put into each of our quilts not matter where they go or who we are sending them to. We are giving a bit of ourselves to the receiver of each quilt. We are forever binding ourselves to the recipient of the quilt.

Our ties to our family are strong and they are binding, even when we move many miles away or try to break away. Living far from family today allows us more communication than in the past because of the Internet, and even face-to-face interactions with Skype. Times have changed from when I was a child and letters were the main stay of communication with family far away. Phone calls were very few and far between when we were stationed overseas, if ever. The bound to family was still there and stood the test of time.

Bindings can also have a negative meaning in that they are restrictive. Our children often feel that restrictive bond when we tell them no they cannot do certain things. They feel we are over protective and mean, but it is the bond of love that makes us so. We are united with them and fastened to them for all time and it is this bond that makes us want to protect them and keep them safe, the binding together for the safety and protection of all.

Binding protects the edges of our quilts and helps keep them form wearing out. IT holds the quilt together and ties it all together. If the binding is not a frame or a complement to the quilt it detracts instead of unites the quilt. The binding in a family at times can do the same, for if we hold on too tightly our children rebel and run from us. The binding is there to protect, not to restrict. It is what holds us together as one. Our families like the binding on a quilt are what protect us from the outside. Bindings are a good thing, even if we at times feel that they are not the most fun to sew on a quilt.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quilting Roots

Quilting is in my roots. I know it goes back to my great-grandmother's on both sides of my family and even further. Quilting can be tracked back to the 1800's on at least one side of my family.

I have a quilt made by my father's mother and his grandmother, my great-grandmother from when I was a baby. Maybe I should say I have the remains of a quilt that was well loved. I loved it so well it was in shreds and I have a small piece left. It brought me comfort for many years both as a child and as an adult. It was hand stitched and hand quilted by them for me and I am thinking I may take what remains and make it into a teddy bear that I could pass on to my first grandchild someday. A treasure made by three generations of grandmothers.

I have two other quilts made by my father's mother. One she made for my parents and one she made for me. Both are well loved and in need of some minor repairs. Both are kept put away for safekeeping and aired out every summer. When my youngest son was small he loved to climb on them when they were on the bed and tell me where I needed to fix them. He also liked to ask questions about the fabric as mine was made of scraps of clothing my mother had made for me when I was small.

From my mother's side of the family I have a quilt from the 1800's that has sheep sheering in it rather than batting. It is made of indigo dyed fabrics and muslins. It is in need of some repair, but first I need to find indigo dyed fabrics that are reproductions that match closely. I also have a quilt from the 1930s that is made from feed sacks. Feed sacks were used for many things on the farm including the making of dresses that my mother wore. Both quilts are from our family farm. The farm has been in our family over 150 years. When the last of my great aunts who lived there passed they had to clear out the house and sell many things. My mother got me both quilts in the auction. She also got me a hair thing that was worn by one of my great, great aunts. It is not a hat, but goes over the head and ties under the chin. My mother had her picture taken in it while holding a picture of the great, great aunt wearing it.

There were many things in that old farmhouse that I would love to have gotten to keep, but the quilts are a treasure and a tie to my roots, one that I hope to pass on to my own grandchildren someday.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

UFQ Update

I have to say I have been busy this week. I finished my Christmas place mats, the binding on my Angels Stack 'N' Whack lap quilt, my moose wall hanging, and completed piecing the front of my Kitchen Sink jacket. I feel that I have accomplished a lot in a few days. There are still many more items in my pile of UFQs that are calling to me to be completed. I did sandqih a wall hanging and a baby quilt so they are ready to quilt and I pieced a quilt back today, so I am getting somethings done, but will I ever get to the bottom of the pile?

I am busy working on cleaning up the family room and getting my scrap booking things in order also. Yes I have two expensive habits. But for now I am focusing on quilting.

I have tried to follow Pat's 12 steps each day that a new one is given. Now I am not perfect but some are hard. Clean up my sewing room.....are you kidding that is a month long job at least. I am afraid to open the closet for fear of what might jump out at me. I am not even sure what is hiding in there. Shh....don't tell my husband that. I really do want to redo the closet and set it up like some I have seen on TV with a nice shelving system and such, but money is not something I have to throw around at the moment. I am hoping to purchase a quilting machine, though the closet should be cleaned out first. I think I will put that on the list of things to do when I retire.

I see I have digressed, what was I talking about, oh right UFQs. I a backing and top to quilt so I can turn them in to the quilter. I want to get those things done before Friday night. What? Tomorrow is Friday. I better get my act together and get some work done or I will have to wait another week to get them to the quilter. Time has flown by today.

Monday, November 1, 2010

UFQ Challenge

A couple weeks ago I joined a UFQ Challenge with 12 Tips to help you finish your UFQs. It is like a 12 step program, but for quilting. First step, count your UFQs and list them. I was sure I would be the queen of that one. But no a couple someone else's had more than me. What a relief! I was not at the top of the pile, which made me feel better.

I have 93 items on my list, though I know there is one more out there that I cannot find. Most of these are finished tops in need of quilting. My grandmother called them summer quilts, because you decorate the bed but not make it too warm during the hot summer nights. I have several summer quilts, partially due to size and in some cases they need backing fabric. I can only quilt smaller quilts on my Pfaff and it costs to send them out to be quilted so some are just sitting waiting until it is time for them to visit the quilter. On the other hand some of them are still in need of borders and in a few cases I just cannot decide what to do for a border. The fabric is there stacked with the unfinished top waiting to be bordered. There are one or two I was bored with so I stopped and put them aside, but now I am looking at them with fresh eyes.

In the pile of UFQs are also projects that I was side tracked from, due to other quilts, or life in general. Some are long-term projects because I am hand quilting them or hand appliquéing, and that takes time. After all there are only so many hours in the day and work is an inconvenience.

I picked my ten to start with and one is done, a few others are closer to being done than they were when I started, and more are moving toward completion. I think my favorite tip so far has been to take 15 minutes a day to work on them. That is an easy task. It is easy to find 15 minutes a day while the laundry is swishing, dinner is simmering, waiting at the doctor's office, or even at lunch. I remember about 10 years ago I hand quilted a wall hanging between September and December just working on it at lunch. I devoted 10 -15 minutes a day to quilting. I was also more relaxed in the afternoon classes just because I took that time out for me.

At the moment I am off on medical leave and using the time to do things around the house and work on my UFQs, hoping to get caught up before I return to the classroom to finish off the school year and my career. I am hoping that once I retire my pile of UFQs will diminish to nothing and that I will only have the current projects I am working on those in waiting. But as I quilter I know that this is probably only a dream.