As a little girl, I’d watch my mom sew for hours at her machine making new clothes, dolls and quilts for our home. Often, it was new matching dresses for my sister and me to wear for an upcoming holiday that would allow family members to comment at “how cute” we looked in our matching attire. Mom careful picked out the perfect pattern for every dress she made and then measured each of us to make sure she’d get just the right amount of fabric. We’d gather at the kitchen counter and watch her cut out the pieces, and then became models as she’d fit us throughout the process making sure each step was just right.
One Easter, I remember mom using peach-colored fabric for our new dresses. The dresses came right below our knees and were edged with white eyelet around the wrists and neck. A pretty sash at the waist completed the look as we twirled in our new dresses, showing them off for everyone who glanced in our direction.
Mom’s handy sewing skills came from her mother, who taught her at a young age the importance of learning to sew. Combine that with my other grandma’s sewing skills and I was destined to become a sewer for life.
I learned at a young age how to sew a button and stitch a hem. As I grew older, my projects got more advanced, starting with a pillow, then a shirt and finally my own dresses. By the time I was about 13, I started quilting and first making traditional block quilts out of leftover fabric from other sewing projects. As I got more confident I tackled my first big quilt – a Double Irish Chain, following the book Irish Chain in a Day. It was a twin-sized quilt in pastel pink and aqua tones – the color of my room at the time. I was so excited about that quilt that I entered it in the county fair that summer through my 4-H club and earned a grand champion ribbon. I earned another grand champion ribbon for a pillow that I sewed. That first quilt encouraged me to make others throughout the years with some large enough to cover a bed, but most perfect for wall hangings and table runners.
A favorite columnist of mine who writes for the local newspaper wrote a column last November entitled “The quilter who dies with the most fabric wins.” I had to chuckle reading her words, because every quilter I know has their own stash of fabric leftover from projects. In my recent quilting project, I looked through the dresser now houses all of my own stash and I couldn’t help but remember each project that brought that piece of fabric into my collection. There are pieces from the quilt I made my nephew, the patriotic wall hanging for my mother and the bright shining star that graces a table runner for my in-laws.
My in-laws were here to visit this holiday season and like to settle in like they’re at home, which is the way we like it since we only see them a couple of times a year. The first evening they got here I heard my father-in-law say, “I tried to put some clothes in the dresser we usually use, but it’s full of fabric.” All I could do was laugh and defend the importance of my stash as a key to the memories from the projects I’ve made.
I’ve already started coming up with new sewing projects that involve fabric from my stash. Now I just have to pull out the machine and grab some thread.