I am a 1st generation quilter. For the most part the women in my family were knitters and crocheters. My mother was a knitter, not only was she a knitter, she was an accomplished knitter. When we were young she would make my brothers sweaters and vests with cowboys, horses and the like on them. We girls' were lucky enough to have sweaters with angora bunnies. What I wouldn't give to have those today, I asked her once what happened to them and somehow at sometime they got lost in one of our moves. People would always be stopping us and complimenting her on them.
My maternal grandmother did a little bit of sewing during the depression, but only out of necessity. My mother would tell me stories of how they would wait in line at the Public Assistance building for butter, sugar, flour, potatoes etc. My grandmother would take the flour sacks and potato sacks and make dresses, of all things, for her daughters. She would add a little rick rack and ribbons if they could be found or take them off of other garments. This was all done by hand, there was no money for a sewing machine, and she was very talented and she was always receiving compliments on their dresses. So it's no wonder that I love applique and hand sewing. I must have inhereited her gift and talent for sewing. I however, don't ever remember seeing her pick up a piece of cloth and the only needles she picked up was to sew on a button, a pair of knitting needles to make sweaters, mittens and hats, or a crochet needle to make afghans. I wish she was still here so I could ask her why she stopped sewing. I can only guess that HAVING to make do during the depression took the joy out of it and the sad memories of that time wanted to be forgotten.
My paternal grandmother was a knitter and crocheter. She taught me to knit and crochet. I would spend several weeks during the summer with her and my grandfather. When I was about 12 or so, she decided it was time I learned to knit. I of course, being 12 and knowing everything, just knew I was going to be a great knitter and when she took me to pick out my yarn and pattern I picked a cardigan sweater with a big collar and a belt, it even had wooden buttons on it. It was much like the coat sweaters of a few years back. Well, you all know how this went. I HATED KNITTING!!!! It took sooooooo long to go even a few inches, it was just plain boring. I didn't have the patience for knitting. Like so many of you and your's, my grandparents had lived through some really hard times and you did not waste anything. When I went to bed that night I was dreading getting up in the morning. Being the thrift and wise woman that my grandmother was she told me all was not lost. I could use that same yarn to crochet. Thank God for that woman. I went on to learn to make sweaters, mittens, scarves, hats, and afghans. I crocheted for several years, !!!LOL!! I also picked up knitting again during those years, hats and sweaters for the kids cabbage patch dolls, some scarves, hats and the like for the kids. And I do knit now however, it's mostly socks.
Like so many of you I took my first sewing class in Home Economics, in the 7th grade. We made the usual pillow case, aprons, and a skirt. I didn't sew again until 8 or 9 years later. I made some clothes for myself and then when I had my frist baby in 1975 I would make coveralls, sunsuits and the like for her. For several years I made clothes for my kids, costumes for their dance recitals and even Halloween costumes. I even made an 8th grade graduation dress for my oldest. I really enjoyed sewing. I stopped for several years and then one day in 2000 I was glancing at some magazines in the store, just looking for something to do. I needed some inspiration. I happened to pick up the April Issue of McCall's Quilting and I saw a quilt in there I just loved, I didn't even quilt, it's call "Baby Nines". The quilt was constructed of 3" nine patches, I didn't know what a 9 patch was, and some appliqued stems, what was that! I bought the magazine, it was misplaced and I didn't see it until over a year later. That summer I happened to catch and Episode of Simply Quilts. I started watching it occasionally at first and then at the beginning of 2001 I was watching pretty regulary. The rest is history, as they say. I made some baby sized quilts from simple squares and "9 patches". I even made a Sunbonnet Sue Redwork quilt. I started appliqueing sometime in 2002 and fell in love with it. I've tried several methods, which I will discuss in my next post, until I found the one that I am most comfortable and happy with. I even went on to make that "Baby Nines" for my first granddaughter in 2004.