Today is my birthday… I’m not saying how many, but there have been a lot more than I ever thought there would be.
No matter how old you are, one of the keys to living a sustainable life is learning how to sew. Sewing is a basic skill every man, woman and child should have in their skill set. A basic straight stitch with only a needle and thread can sew a buttonhole, make a quilt and patch a pair of pants. A few more tools and skills and you can make practically anything out of fabric you might need around the house plus make a few extra dollars with the skill as well.
Part of sustainable living is making things last as long as possible or making something new out of something old that might otherwise be thrown out. Quilting is an art and a science that can be used to take advantage of worn out cloth household items from sheets to clothes to towels so it is definitely part of a sustainable lifestyle. Quilts are is a sandwich of fabric and they are truly easy to make. (If you steer clear of all the bells and whistles and fancy patterns out there.)
I made my first quilt in 1987. It was inevitable. My mother quilted, my grandmother quilted and my great-grandmother quilted. So far none of my children are interested, but the two youngest can’t really talk yet so there is still hope we’ll have a fifth generation take it up.
Everyone in my family has quilted for both utilitarian and artistic reasons. I am much less the artist and much more the person who loves a warm bed in the winter. My mother is an artist as was my grandmother. Though their quilts are plenty warm, they are also beautiful.
The picture below is of a Christmas present I received from my mother in 2010. She made me a beautiful white quilt from her mother’s embroidered pieces. Grandma died a few years back and Mom kept pillowcases, doilies and a lot of other things she had made. They are our heritage and, sadly, represent a dying art.
A few nights ago I was patching diapers to try to get a few more weeks of them and I ran across my quilting workbook. Back in 1987 I bought a spiral notebook with gridded pages so I could draft my quilts and keep track of my patterns and all of that. Well, it turned into a lot more than that. What I have are fabric swatches from the quilts, pictures of the people they were made for holding the quilts, receipts for the fabric and all of that kind of stuff. (Yes, I used to buy all new fabric for quilts. Now I try to source fabric in ways that reuse other things or purchase salvaged fabric at yard sales and thrift stores.)
The book came in very handy when one of the people I made a crib quilt for came back to me for a matching single bed size quilt. Her granddaughter was so attached to her crib quilt that she refused to move to a big bed until it had a big quilt just like the small one. A few years had passed and boy was I happy to have the pictures, design and fabric swatches to go by. The quilt I’m speaking of is the Teddy Bear quilt pictured at the bottom of this post. I couldn’t give the same bears, but I did get pretty close. Last I heard that little girl is happily sleeping in her big bed.
Below are some pictures of my quilting workbook. People sell books like this that you fill in and others have online software to track these types of things, but I don’t like having someone else plan my pages for me. Plus I spent 1.99 for that notebook when I bought it and 20 years later it is still going strong.
So what is the point of this post on my birthday? Well, revisiting those memories reminds me that all these birthdays have amounted to something – lots of happy people who have received quilts from me.
Swatches and Designs
Color Coded design for my first quilt in 1987
Teddy Bear Quilt Design and Photo