27 January, 2009

"Let's Talk" Tuesday...

Thanks for your warm and wonderful response to the premier of "Let's Talk" Tuesday last week, I think we're on to something here. Welcome back, if you participated last week, and WELCOME if you're new here! This forum is designed to get to know each other better by sharing our own stories that connect us through time and space in response to a weekly topic or question.

This week: "are you a first generation quilter in your family; or are you following in the footsteps of a quilt-making mother, grandmother and/or beyond"?

I had always thought of myself as a first generation quilter, as I taught my mother what I had learned in my earliest quilting classes and coached her through her first quilt. And then I remembered... something that I had pushed back into the far recesses of my mind, for good reason. My great-grandmother made small quilts for both me and my sister, they were patchwork, hand pieced and tied. My sister's had a pale pink backing fabric and mine a had a print on the back; other than that, they were identical. My great-grandmother lived in one room of a facility that, would now be considered politically incorrect in it's name (but, this was the '60's), "Home For Aged Women"; in a 'burb outside of Boston. I recall visiting her when I was very young, and do recall receiving the quilt. The last time I saw the quilt it was in deplorable condition, I assume that I disposed of it, but I don't remember doing that (God has mercifully granted me amnesia on this). I used that quilt to lie on when I sunbathed during my college years, in the early 1970's. That quilt not only absorbed what must have been quarts of baby oil (the tanning accelerant of choice in those days) but also a coating of asphalt on it's back, the result of being placed directly on roofing shingles outside the bathroom window where my dormmates and I "laid out", catching glorious rays between classes. I would give almost anything to have that quilt with me today. I suppose it's the folly of my selfish action that makes this quilt, or the thought of it being made lovingly for me by my great-grandmother, all the more precious to me now. Whenever I see my sister's quilt, perfect and pristine after all these years, I feel a painful stab of guilt; as I should. Life has taught me some very valuable lessons along the way!

...and sew, "Let's Talk"...
Life is Good!

36 comments:

Dorothy said...

Good Morning Mrs. G, hope you've had a good week.
I'm a first generation quiltmaker, though my maternal grandmother was a great needlewoman, and seamstress. I have a few of her embroideries, that were made in England during the war, and were made using bleached flour sacks, as fabrics were very scarce.
She did make an embroidered wholecloth cot cover for my older sister, which is like a quilt, but unfortunately, it got caught in the wringer of the old washer. My mother took it apart, and fortunately kept the top, which I now have.
Hope everyone has a good, and productive week. Bye for now.

Suzan said...

I know that I am not a first generation quiltmaker in my family - I just don't know who quilted! Years ago my mother gave me a blanket (tie quilted) to use at the beach. When we returned home, I threw it into the washer. When I pulled it out, I discovered that under the frayed top layer of fabric was an appliqued quilt. You can bet I pulled off all of the other fabric. The quilt below was tattered in some places but overall was in decent shape. I don't know the name of the pattern. The colors are fairly standard for Pennsylvania Dutch quilts - red, yellow and green on a muslin background. I really would like to know which one of my great-grandmother's quilted it. I know for certain that neither of my grandmothers were quilters.

ranette said...

Hello Mrs. G...I am sort of a first generation quilter because both of my Grandma's could quilt (I have quilts that both of them made) but they didn't like quilting, just sewing. They liked "store bought" blankets.

My Mother does not quilt...at all...lol...she's tried & failed.
So I'm not sure what that makes me, although I won't be the last generation quilter in my family because all 3 of my daughters quilt.

KarenF said...

My mom tried to take up quilting during its resurgence in the 70's...she picked this strange stuffed yo-yo kind of pattern though, and never got past a handfull of pieces (can't say that I blame her!) She was an excellent clothing seamstress, but never found any desire to piece quilts. My dad's sister, however, was and is a fabulous quilter...I used to spend my vacation time with her in my young, single days, and though I never quilted with her, I couldn't help but notice her at work. She would get up very early and sit at her quilting frame stitching away. I guess some of that worked its way into my subconscious. Like my mom, I spent years and years making clothing, but unlike her, when the quilting bug bit me it stayed!

I still have on my list of things to do to go spend a weekend with my aunt...she has the most amazing hand quilting stitches...

As for other ancestors, none that I know of were quilters. My dad's mom could crochet like nobody's business though! I still have many things she made (including several afghans that I use all the time)

Vicki said...

I come from a quilting family. My mother, me and my siblings made square baby quilts and tied them in the winters. My great grandmothers and great aunts were quilters. I have my own pink baby quilt in decent shape similar to the one you decribed. I started learning more about handquilting 23 years ago and I have kept up with the times in modern quiltmaking. I have coached my mother on these techniques and we have fun doing block exchange quilts with a circle of friends. I have continued with many needle work traditions in my family including crochet, knitting, embroidery and tatting. Love all of them but quilting is where I spend most of my energies.

Bonnie said...

Quilting in my family "skipped" a couple of generations, namely my grandmother (Dad's mom),as she was far too worldly for such affairs, she appreciated tennis and golf and cocktail parties far to much, and never owned a sewing machine!

I have to give her credit though, she loved needle point in her later years, and I think she COULD have been a quilter if it weren't for the pull of the golf and raqcuet club!

My great grandmother DID quilt,and I have two of her applique quilts from the 20's and 30's...and a shredded piece of a double irish chain that I also remember laying on at the beach in my growing up years. I saved the piece I could after I became a quilter.

Sometimes I wonder what my great grandmothers and great great grandmothers would have thought to see quilting come full circle!

It's the thread that binds..

Bonnie

LauraQuilts said...

My paternal grandmother, Grandma Becky, was an interesting lady. She was a Richmond, VA born woman who fell for a carpetbagger from New Jersey. They married and had three children and then one day, the carpetbagger went out for a walk and never came back! This was around 1925 or so. She moved her family back to Richmond and did several things to keep her kids fed and one thing she did was sew. She did garment sewing, alterations, mending and such along was oil painting photos - that was all the rage at the time. When her daughter, my Aunt Eleanor married, Grandma Becky went with her, and spent the remainder of her days working on the farm and helping El with all those children! My mother sewed for all of her daughters and she sent all of her scraps up to the farm for Grandma Becky. Grandma pieced everything by hand. I remember seeing her piece, but I don't think I ever saw her quilting...no memory of frame or hoop, but she did utilitarian quilts and beautiful applique. I believe she would be pleased that I am a quilter, but I'm sure she would be on me about the size of my stitches!

Janet said...

Another nice topic here Mrs. G!

My mother was a quilter but she didn't really take it up until she was going to have grandchildren. Almost sounds like me except I did make a few baby quilts for friends back in the 80's when we all were having babies! I barely remember my maternal grandma but I think she did make some quilts. My hubby's grandmas were both quilters. His maternal grandma never threw anything away and used to make patchwork quilts(most of them hand tied) from the polyester fabric that was so popular back in the 70's. Those quilts will NEVER wear out and all my kids each have some. Honestly though, they aren't very pretty:(

Domestic Designer said...

I assume that all previous generations quilted in my family. I have a guilt that my great grandmother did. My grandmother actually taught me to quilt and mother quilts now. My aunt still quilts and I actually visited her last week and all we talked about was quilting. We actually had a show and tell of past generations quilts. I took pictures and plan to write about it in the future. To me quilting is such a wonderful past time. It connects me to my ancestors. When I quilt now I feel like my grandmother is watching over me telling me just how to do it!

Juliann in WA said...

My great grandmother and great-great grandmother made quilt tops -I know becuase I have a few of them. Both of my grandmothers did a lot of knitting and my mom did a lot of sewing, teaching me to sew at the age of 6. Both of the girls learned to sew and have made quilts but it will probably be our oldest who is the quilter and both of them knit and crochet so there is a lot of creative energy flowing through my veins. thanks for asking

Nane said...

Both my Grandmothers quilted but my Mother (who was an excellent seamstress) did not make a quilt until after I started. One side of the family made very utilitarian quilts...the other appliqued. I am fortunate to have a quilt from both sides of my family.

Nane said...

Both my Grandmothers quilted but my Mother (who was an excellent seamstress) did not make a quilt until after I started. One side of the family made very utilitarian quilts...the other appliqued. I am fortunate to have a quilt from both sides of my family.

Quiltdivajulie said...

My mother sewed clothing and crafts and made tied comforters (the days of fat polyester fiberfill batts and yarn ties); my maternal grandmother pieced quilt tops by hand but they never moved beyond the flimsy or UFO stage; my paternal grandmother pieced by hand and had some "church ladies in Detroit" hand quilt her tops; my paternal great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother made quilts, including 2 existing crazy quilts (one of which I donated to the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln NE last year, the other is with my cousin in TX). I am SO grateful for their legacies!

Catherine said...

This is such a great topic -- wonderful to read your post and the comments!

I'm a first generation quilter. My cousin's quilting was my first exposure to it. Once I started, I never looked back! My mother knit, but that was it for crafts and I have no idea about grandmothers as neither of them were alive when I was born. I have never heard stories of them quilting, so think that my cousin and I have started something new in our family.

LizA. said...

My paternal grandmother was a home ec teacher and had pieced some tops which I found after she passed away, but she never quilted any of them. Someday I'll get them out and finish them. I also have a quilt that was made for her when she married my grandfather.

My mother never quilted, she did knit and crochet afghans.She had some aunts or great aunts that did do some quilting. I still have one of their quilts.

Laurel said...

My mother does not (nor ever did) quilt, but both of my grandmothers knit or crochet blankets. My maternal g'mother had a few quilts that she got from "somewhere in the family". I do consider myself a first generational quilter given all of that. There was no quilting going on in my family.

But my mom does sew (I remember those handmade dresses as a child). I could never understand why she had drawers full of fabric that she didn't have a plan for. As a child, I didn't understand the "stash". Now I understand!

Rhonda said...

HI Mrs. G,
I am a first generation quilter. My MOm and aunts sewed their own clothes in their younger years, but I never learned from them.
I learned to sew in jr. high, and it took off from there.
Have a great day,
Rhonda

Libby said...

I suppose I would considered a first generation quilter - but I come to my love of working with fabrics and stitching through the generations. My maternal grandmother is one of 10 children. She along with 2 of her sisters were among the oldest and trained early to be of help around the house. Each was assigned a task that was to be hers alone- Grandma was taught to sew. The majority of her work was to make clothing, with most of her siblings boys -she became an excellent tailor which provided a living for her and my mom during WWII when Grandma did alterations of uniforms for soldiers at a nearby Army training base. Grandma also learned 'fancy work' and enjoyed embroidery in her spare time. I learned my first stitches from her as a young girl which began my lifelong love of handwork. My mom didn't have a lot of spare time for homecrafts, but she did crochet and sew some clothing. I inherited her Singer machine which became instrumental in my becoming a quilter. I think we bring the generations along with us in quilting whether they ever stitched some patches together or not *s*

Flake said...

I'm not a quilter, my mother is.


I'd think that my great-great grandmother would have been overjoyed with the memories your quilt gave you. IMO, your quilt (or any quilt for that matter) being tucked away, unused, and in pristine condition would have served no purpose other than taking up space. I know my mother sees great pleasure in her quilts being used, cherished and ultimately worn. The tell tale sign of having created a symbol of love and warmth.

That said, I want my blue quilt back!

Salem Stitcher said...

My maternal great grandmother was the only quilter in my family. I have one of her quilts that I rescued from my brother's truck. It was given to my dad with he graduated from college. It's made of feedsacks and muslin. I can still see my great grandmother sitting in her rocking chair with pieces of fabric in her hands. No running water, no electricity, but a smile on her face as she sewed the pieces together.

Her daughter was a master seamstress but never made quilts. She could look at a suit and make it without a pattern. One of the last things she help make was my wedding dress. She is Clara and does not remember me, much less the dress.

On my mother's side, no one sewed that I am aware of...at least no one sewed happily. I remember my mother making outfits for me growing up but it was not something she enjoyed. She's been known to stand over me when I'm quilting, shaking her head, saying "I don't know where you get that."

I do. It was Asalee Kate and that contented smile on her face.

AverettLadyNana said...

Mercy did you bring back a load of memories for me!!!
I went off to college in 1970. Took a quilt with me that had been on my bed at home. I still have it though it is falling apart...folded neatly on shelf in linen closet. I may drag it out and try to repair it...not sure if my grandmother or great-grandmother made it or one of ggm's sisters. It went with me to the sundeck in college and it to must have a gallon of baby oil absorbed in it...and we also used something in a tube that was orange. You really tanned/fried with that stuff. We would plug in fans and have them blow on us. Only one dorm had AC and we all had window box fans. My first summer home I was laying out in the yard with an extension cord to the house running the fan...soaking up the rays...Daddy said Good God, I sent you to college to learn to lay in the sun with a fan blowing on you?!?!?!?

paula, the quilter said...

I come from a long line of matriarchs who quilt. Back into the great-greats. But I did not know that until I moved back into the state when in high school and my fraternal grandmother taught me to quilt.

*karendianne. said...

Having nothing to share on this front, I read. All were enjoyable, every single one. I love hearing words used so often such as needlewoman and seamstress and great great grandmother! Full of content, still I was charmed. Charmed to find a few really jumped out. I wonder if Suzan and Nane and Vicki will come back by to know someone named Karen thought their posts, for me, made extra lovely contributions to the Talk on Tuesday.

Baby Steps said...

I am not a quilter, my mother is.

I have numerous quilts that she has made throughout the years. My all time favorite quilt is one that I was not too fond of when it was being assembled. It is made of my college colors (orange and blue) which I thought seemed a little to bright at the time. Once the stars were all set and the quilt sandwhich was held together by a lot of machine quilting...the quilt and I were off to college(after arriving I learned that there is never too much orange and blue in one place!). Now the purpose of the quilt was to keep me warm during football games, however, I quickly learned that it rarely gets cold enough in Alabama that one needs to bundle up at a football game. But I did snuggle up under that quilt many nights when my family was far away. It reminded me of the love and care that were spent making the perfect quilt.

Now my son also has a couple of quilts and he definately favors playing on Nana's quilt than any of the other blankets he received.

So, as far as I see it...mom does such a great job, there's no need for me to ever learn!

Quilt Memories said...

Hi Mrs. G, What memories this post has brought.....My Grandmother (she and gd raised me) quilted for as long as I can remember, she also was an excellent seamstress, but with 6 girls and 5 boys , she had to sew a lot....But her quilting was fantastic. I am so very fortunate to have a couple quilts she made. Unfortunately I only remember her quilting on her treadle Singer machine, but know she did piece a lot of her quilts by hand as well as tying them. I guess the tying was for getting them done for the winter, cause it was COLD in Ky., She also had a quilt frame that she would put up in the living room, I used to love to watch her " sew" on that. I now have that, I have never even tried to get it put together, but would NEVER part with it!
I have sewed all my life ( as far as I can remember) and tried my hand at quilting (on the machine) about 48 years ago, but just got serious about it about 8-10 years ago. I know she would be proud of me, as I think I am the only one of her "daughters" that has ever quilted. My sister also quilts ( GM didn't raise her) as does both our daughters and I have even helped our GD make a small baby quilt. So , no, I am not a first generation quilter, and am happy and proud to say not the last generation quilter in the family.
Thanks for " Let's Talk Tuesday"
what fun!

Carrie P. said...

My mother, her sisters, and their mother are all quilters. My grandmother made all her quilts by hand. My first quilt I attempted to make in the
70's was given to her and she turned around and gave it back all finished. It is a brown and orange log cabin quilt. I have been quilting since 1999 and my daughter has made a few quilts of her own too.

quiltmom said...

Mrs. G.,
Another great topic- I am not sure whether to identify myself as a first generation quilter or not as both of my grandmothers did make a quilt. My one grandmother may have made more than that but she died very young (43) and I only have heard that she quilted- my father does not own any of her work. There used to be a flimsy that floated around my mother's house but it disappeared a number of years ago now.
My grandmother Grace who I was blessed to have in my life until a few years ago, did make a top with a ladies group in her community. They each embroidered squares on flour sacks and then put the squares together. I have a backing for that quilt as I want to preserve it.
My mother does not quilt- she stamps and she crochets. My mom also makes beautiful embroidered pillowcases and tableclothes.
As for myself,well I started quilting about 21 years ago but I made one large log cabin quilt and some baby wrap blankets and then did not quilt for about 10 years. I have quilted pretty steadily since 1996. In that time I have made over 50 big quilts and I only machine quilt. I admire other's beautiful hand stitched quilts but prefer to piece and quilt by machine.. I used to sew much on my own clothing but now I am too busy quilting to make my own clothes.
Happy quilting everyone,
Regards,
Anna

Mimi said...

I'm so glad to have come across your blog. I get inspired by seeing other's work and it makes me eager to climb the stairs to my own sewing haven...the entire top story of my cape cod home.

I am a first generation quilter. My mother owned a sewing machine but was afraid of it...never allowing me to touch it. I did own a tiny child's crank-type chain stitch machine and I made my own doll clothes. A neighbor lady taught me to crochet and that lead me to more doll clothes. Never using a pattern, I spent many enjoyable hours creating.

My brother and sister were wonderfully musically talented, but not me. My talents lie in creative sewing/quilting and crafting.

I took sewing class in junior high school and made the obligatory apron! When I was 15, Mama enrolled me in a sewing class at the Singer Sewing Machine Store in a nearby city. What a horrible dress I nearly completed!! However, I learned the basics and skyrocketed from there.

I'm coming closer to retirement and am so looking forward to creating more and more quilts and hopefully marketing them.

Thanks for inspiring me.

Ancestor Collector said...

Since I can't really call myself a quilter, just someone who has done a little quilting, I can't really add to this week's question, but I do enjoy reading and getting to know your other readers.

Trudi said...

Wow Mrs G... What a great subject. I am a first generation quilter. Though I know that my maternal grandmother and a great aunt were needlewomen. My Nan certainly knitted and crocheted. My mother made clothes when I was a child, as did I for my dolls and then for real from my teens onwards. I fell upon quilting through a colleague, knowing I was into sewing thought that a 'Keepsake Quilting' catalogue would be useful to me. Oh, if only she knew what an obsession she kicked started. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Jill said...

I'm a skipped generation quilter. My maternal grandmother sewed mostly clothes, but the few quilts she did were really incredible, hand pieced and hand quilted works of art. My husband's grandmother was a more prolific quilter, and her quilts were more utility style. Big simple blocks she tied as often as quilted and her husband often worked on them with her.
My mother was the source of my first few quilting books, but I think she's made a total of 2 blocks her entire life. She sewed many dresses for my sister and I as children and really encouraged me when I wanted to learn to sew. After a few years of sewing clothes, it was actually a friend who inspired me to try my first quilt. (Thanks Stephanie, where ever you are)

Nan said...

I would say I am a first generation quilter, as my grandmother crocheted doilies, but did not sew, and my mother hated to sew, and used the machine only for mending. My aunt started to teach me to quilt. All my cousins (her grandchildren) received a beautiful quilt from her, but since I was a niece, I never got one of her gorgeous quilts. I decided I would make gorgeous quilts of my own, and I have yet to make a quilt for me. Every time I create one, it's for someone else - I so enjoy creating a quilt for someone I love. I think my mother and grandmother would be proud that I followed in my aunt's footsteps.
I'm sure you wish you still had your great-grandmother's quilt, but you loved it and used it, and I don't think she could ask for anything more.

nannergirl said...

I know it's already Thursday but I didn't get here Tuesday. I'm a first generation quilter. My grandmother did make one quilt, which I am so lucky to have, but she passed away before she could get any more finished.
Thanks for the 'Let's talk" question Mrs. Goodneedle

mamaspark said...

Good question! I, as you, thought I was a first generation quilter too. Then I remembered the quilt I used to sleep under "up north". It was made by my maternal grandmother. She made a crazy patch flannel quilt for my sister and I passed that to my son who wore it out with use! So i am second generation, I guess. It apparently skipped a generation although my mother was a very good seamstress. She did clothes and some embroidery but not quilts. She loved that I did though. I never knew my grandmother as she died when I was just 2 but I like to think she is happy to know that her talent continues!

Judy H. said...

I am not truly a first generation quilter, yet in a way I am.

I grew up surrounded by various types of needlework, but not quilts. We had afghans, both knitted and crocheted, in our house, and the same in my relatives' houses. Knitting in particular runs rampant in my family, even including many of the men.

At my great-grandmother's funeral a few years ago (she was technically my grandmother's step-mother, so was younger than her biological mother and I therefore got to know her longer than most people know their great-grands), I first found out she quilted. She mostly quilted as part of her church's bee. She had a wicked sense of humor, too. She was a breast cancer survivor, and when there was a newcomer to the bee, she would catch the person's eye, and then quite casually use her prosthesis as a pincushion!

I started quilting about a year after this funeral. When I showed my grandmother my first hand-pieced blocks, she praised me on making my points meet, telling me, "I never could do that." And that's the only time I heard any mention that she quilted at all. She was quite ill at the time and passed away a few months later. I never got to ask her more about quilting.

This past Christmas, my aunt gave me a treasure. She is still going through my G-G'ma and G'ma's things, and found a bundle in my grandmother's cedar chest that was two scrap quilt tops, and a beautiful sandwiched Lone Star quilt that had just a bit of hand-quilting started. I know they are the handwork of these two women, but I can't be sure who did what.

My father, when pressed, remembers his mother giving up quilting when they got electricity. Presumably the extra warmth wasn't needed at that point.

I believe I am the first generation (in living memory) to quilt because I want to.

Two days ago I started quilting on the Lone Star quilt. Someday it will be on my bed.

(Wow, didn't mean to get quite so wordy...)

Judy H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.