• Elisabeth/Tonya

A Patchwork

My grandmother was a quilter. She used fabrics she had leftover from other projects and would sew them together, either by hand or machine, using simple patterns of squares or triangles.

When she had finished a quilt top, two of her sisters from the country and my mother would gather at her house for a few days and handquilt all of the quilts they had made on frames my grandfather had made that hung from the ceiling. My grandmother would fry chicken for them and they would visit in the evenings.

Her quilts were not fancy but were beautiful with tiny stitches (6-10 to an inch) and had that puckered look that is so indicative of handquilting and that I love. Her quilts were for daily use and they were well worn. They are still used.

My mother was a quilter. She started out making quilts as my grandmother did, but then moved into quilting with batiks and other fabrics she bought specifically for her quilts, instead of using scraps. She used patterns from quilting magazines and those from others in her quilting club. She machine-quilted these beautiful quilts and then later had someone with a long-arm quilting machine do them for her. She said we could use them, with hesitation in her voice, but she also liked to display them.

I'm a quilter. I started out using scraps for my first quilt at age 11. My grandmother, mother, and great aunts handquilted it for me. Later, I used a quilt-block-of-the-month project from a local craft store and then my mother machine quilted it. I started making more quilts about 8 years ago, using old patterns such as the log cabin but I wanted to return to the look of handquilting. I also don't like using quilting frames so I just stitch holding the quilt in my lap and it lets me sit in any comfortable place while I sew.

Now I dye linen, cotton, and silk with plants for use in quilts. Those earthy colors are my preference, set apart with white linen. The special mottling of the color adds an originality not found in commercially dyed fabrics. I often quilt using the Sashiko method - a Japanese method of using larger stitches that are decorative but also give reinforcement to the fabric.

I'm blessed to have my daughter interested in quilting and dyeing as well. We now often design our own quilt patterns to use with the amount of fabric we have or to go in a certain place in our home for use. For we use these quilts on a daily basis. And as we keep making them, we'll have plenty to replace the ones that wear out.


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