Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spreading the love, Part 2

Thank you so much to all of you who commented or emailed me with stories of learning from mothers and grandmothers and sewing/crafting with children and grandchildren.  From rearranging pins in pincushions and salvaging scraps to sewing Barbie clothes and making first quilts, our memories are dear to our hearts.  And I guess it's only fair that I share just a little bit more about my own beautiful and talented mother. 

My mother had three children within three years and one day.  I was the middle child and oldest girl, which I think explains a lot about me, but that's not part of today's story.  My mother was a talented seamstress and sewed almost all of the school dresses my sister and I were proud to wear.  Even before my sister and I would scavenge for scraps to make primitive dresses for our Barbies, we enjoyed going along when our mother went fabric shopping.

My sister and I would sit in the back of the station wagon (before anyone thought that children might be safer in seatbelts) and pretend to be mothers with babies of our own.  We often overheard our mother talking with her mother on the phone or in person, and we tried to emulate their conversations.  My grandparents were friends with couples with the unlikely names of Otto and Alvie and Cobby and Frannie, and my sister and I would have pretend conversations where we would ask each other about and catch each other up on the latest activities of these couples (as if they were our friends) while we fussed over our baby dolls in the back seat.  At the fabric store we would walk around chatting with a grown-up air and rub the fabric between our fingers as my mother did.  My favorite part of the fabric store was the area with little embroidery kits.  I was always very interested in needlework (because it was so grown-up, but seemed more accessible to a child) and sometimes my mother would buy me a little project to work on.  Perhaps a small bouquet of flowers stamped on some gauzy linen and some brightly colored embroidery floss.  To this day it makes me happy just thinking about those small treasures.

The little red machine pictured above and seen on my very first blog post is my first sewing machine.  I loved using it and so did my Molly.  Maybe one day a grandchild will sew on it, too.  In the meantime, I am reminded by my first post that I dedicated this blog to the memory of my mother, so I think it's about time to add that to the sidebar.  I'll work on that.

What is a good age to start a child on sewing or quilting?  If you think preschool is too young, then read Kate Conklin's post, Not too bad for a three-year-old, for a great way to let even a very young child get in on the design process. This is Sarah trying out the quilt she helped make for her new baby cousin:

In between reminiscing and spreading the love, I have managed to get a little sewing in:

I completed a belated bee block in the style of Gwen Marston from Liberated Quiltmaking II;

I worked on several more cross blocks;

and I completed several more blocks for the City Park quilt.  Ahh, the beauty of simplicity.

I have a few too many projects going on at the same time right now (business as usual), so it sometimes feels like I'm working hard yet standing still. But I'm catching up....

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan


  1. You sewed Barbie clothes too? How fun! I love the image of you and your sister in the backseat playing pretend. Your projects in progress are fabulous. I am really loving the solid colors you're working with these days.

  2. Joan, these two posts are great. Love them. I noticed the dedication to your mom in the sidebar. Lovely. I really like your Gwen Marston blocks and the crosses too. Great projects.

  3. What beautiful memories you have of learning to sew...what beautiful memories you made for your daughter...and I can only imagine what the future may hold..?! ; ) How heart warming.

    Standing still, yet sewing is all good. Progress and sewing is progress and sewing regardless of how long the project list is! Enjoy each stitch.

  4. Working hard, but standing still! I love that and feel your pain! Well, not pain, really. This was a fun post....the imagery is wonderful, especially the backseat conversation! My mother had 3 daughters in 3 years and 3 months. I am the oldest. That explains a lot!!

  5. Hi Joan,
    My mother always told me "sewing skips a generation". Listening to your may want to set her straight! I learned to sew from my grandma who lived across the strawberry field when I was growing up. I would visit her often. My passion for handwork, stitching and creating came from her and I am sooo grateful to her today. Surprisingly, in the past couple of years, my mom has been making beautiful napkins out of batik fat quarters...hemmed in careful hand made *Stitches*. Who knew...She was wrong!! Thanks for your beautiful story!!

  6. What lovely memories. I think that when kids are interested you can always find something to find for them to do. Loving your blocks you're playing with.

  7. great memories..oh I love that liberated bee block
    can't wait to see that quilt done!

  8. Oh Joan, your growing up sounds a lot like mine. Not only did my mom make our Barbie clothes for us from scraps, but my grandma taught us to crochet and Barbie was a stylish babe, let me tell ya!

    Thank you for sharing your memeories. I love reading about people's lives and these you share with us are treasures!

    I love the Shoo Fly block. So pretty and happy and the other two projects you shared are beautiful! The fabric for the crosses is just yummy and the park block is just stunning!

    Thank you, my friend and sewing sister!

  9. Lovely story Joan. Thanks for sharing it with us. My mother was a sewer by trade - the factory working kind, but she was also a ballroom dancer and made all her beautiful dancing costumes in the 30's and 40's. I have fond memories of sitting under the sewing table playing with bits of lace and elastic. She also handknat all our jumpers. My dolls were the best dressed dolls around. I think I made my first jumper for me at about 9 - helped mum knit an Aran jumper for my brothers 21st (I was 11) and crocheted her a couple of jumpers after school while she was still at work when I was a young teenager - so I'm not sure age is a factor - it's interest. My lovely daughter (sadly) has no interest in any of these activities.

  10. My father taught me to sew. He custom made all my Halloween costumes. I talked to him on Easter about threads, the quality of some scissors and needle sizes. I updated him on my latest quilts. He shops in fabric and sewing stores and likes to give the women that work there a laugh. He usually says he is the only guy in the store. I enjoyed sewing with him when I was little. Whatever we needed he could create it. The skills he taught me in sewing have transferred over to other areas of my life. Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. I love your story, Joan! What a pretty little sewing machine -- complete with memories. I completely get where you're coming from -- a little progress on a lot of projects. ;-)

  12. You have such wonderful memories! And I love that you still have your first ever sewing machine. All of your blocks are beautiful... and you will never hear me scold someone over too many projects all at once!

    Jennifer :)

  13. great post Joan. between Kate's daughter quilting and the project Angela (my three sons) recently did for a school quilt, i REALLY need to get my almost 5 year old quilting with me!

  14. Beautiful story Joan. The little red sewing machine is adorable.

  15. Oh, for me and my sister it was hiding in between the standing bolts of fabric at the shop. I loved to brush up against them and find passages. And the thread stands, oh... the perfect rainbow of colour!
    and buttons... LOL
    Lovely posts! I found my three year old son re-arranging my scraps and saying: Mama! I KWILTING! :)

  16. Thanks so much for the link to the three year old quilting. I am going to do that with wingnut!

  17. Joan - even though I have 2 boys, we are still all about crafting! I have a blog post up from last week with the most adorable PacMan blocks that my soon to be 8 year old made. I am so glad that I get to spend time with them doing all things crafty and I hope that one day they'll tell wonderful stories about our time - just like you.

    Leanne xo

  18. Joan, you have a lovely way of telling stories that really take you back. I think those early experiences really shape who we are.

    Touching dedication to your mother.

  19. OK...I adore that red sewing machine!! What awesome memories to have of such incredible moments shared between you, your sister and Mother. I love that you shared it with us, it was truly inspiring to hear. Thank you!!!! I pray that one day my daughter will be able to hold memories so dear of her and I am sure your daughter already does.
    I truly think that the bond between mother and child is one of the most amazingly precious gifts that life has to offer...and one that should never be taken for granted.