Quilts have been a comfort to me since I was a small child. My mother always had quilts on our beds. I love the feel of a quilt and I love the smell of those old quilts. There is no sleep like the sleep you get on a cold winter night with a couple of quilts on your bed.
When I was about eight years old, my grandmother gave me a quilt that had the all the state flowers on it. My mother embroider painted all the blocks, and my grandmother and great aunt pieced it together and quilted it. (Side note--It only has 48 blocks because Alaska and Hawaii were not states when my mother made the blocks.) I used it as a bedspread until I left home, and then I used it on my beds after I got married. I took it to every cold football game and every drill team bus trip and every basketball trip. It was a part of the fabric of my childhood. It even went with me to the hospital when I got my tonsils removed and at the births of my children. It became so worn that I retired it, and it now has a place on a quilt rack in my hallway.
When I got married, my grandmother and aunt made me another quilt that was on our bed for many years, especially the cold years in Iowa, Wyoming and Colorado. That quilt has been retired also. It is still in good shape, but I do not want it to get as worn as the first one.
During the cold years in Iowa, we spent a lot of time with Park Ranger's aunt and uncle, Lorin and Phyllis, on the family farm. Phyllis had a profound influence on me as a young homemaker. Phyllis is a homemaker unlike any I have every seen. She is pretty much excellent at everything she does--cooking, sewing, crafts, Sunday School & VBS teacher, gardener, canner--you name it, she does it well. Phyllis was always making quilts. Not necessarily the pretty hand pieced, hand quilted kind, but the functional, durable, beautiful in their own way kind. Phyllis has made denim quilts for her kids and grandkids out of old jeans--pockets included. Along with her mother-in-law, she made quilts of old suits. This was hard for me to understand being from Texas, but they even made quilts out of wool pieces. Talk about warm!!! Most of her quilts were hand tied instead of hand quilted, but no less beautiful.
My mother-in-law, Helen, has made a number of quilts as well. Hers are the classic hand stitched kind, and they are incredibly beautiful. She spent many years quilting with the quilting group at Holy Ghost Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg, TX. People make tops and then pay this group to quilt them. They quilt several every week. They also make quilts out of scraps for Lutheran World Relief. Quilts that are sent to developing countries or places that have gone through a disaster of any kind.
When Helen was about 16 years old, she had an appendectomy and ended up getting pneumonia from the ether that was used as anesthesia. It took her the whole summer to recuperate. Her mother wisely, set her up on a quilt under a tree in the yard. She set her to work cutting out small postage stamp size pieces of fabric and sewing them together into a quilt. This quilt is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The pieced design has a border of gold and purple--very unusual colors, but absolutely incredible. I told Helen several years ago that to avoid any disagreements over her estate, she should go ahead and put it in her will that Kay would get the quilt. She avoided any disagreements and gave me the quilt right away. It also has a place of honor on my quilt rack.
My brother, Terry, mentioned to me for several years, that he wanted to make quilts for his children. We finally got it together and made them a couple of years ago. He has become my partner in crime. When I get to the point when I need to put the layers of the quilt together and tie them, Terry is my partner. We sit for hours putting it together while listening to old country music and drinking coffee. When I got in a bind and was running out of time. Terry even took a quilt to his fire station (he is a fireman), and tied it there--IN FRONT OF ALL HIS FIREMAN FRIENDS. Now that takes courage!! It has become a great way for us to stay caught up with each other.
My daughter, Amy, nagged me for years about making a quilt out of her old t-shirts. She faithfully SAVED THEM ALL, of course. I finally relented, not for noble reasons, but because I wanted to get rid of those bags of t-shirts in the garage and her closet. That was the beginning of a whole new vein of creativity on my part, which I will talk about more in following posts.
My quilts are all machine sewed and hand tied. They are pretty quick to put together, if you call 40-80 hours quick. I have made one for Amy and one for my son Josh. Amy's theme was her childhood through high school graduation. Josh's theme was his college and corp career at Texas A&M University. I have been commissioned to make several others.
I have had a love affair with quilts my whole life. I will continue sharing my quilt stories with you in the future.