Thursday, March 29, 2007

A serious topic: My Grandma

In the summer of 1999, when my Grandma's Macular Degeneration reached a point when she could no longer sew, she gave me her Singer 2010 sewing machine so that I could learn. She gave me much more than that sewing machine. She may not have realized it then but she opened a whole new world for me.

When I was growing up, my mom and grandma were always sewing. I may not have paid attention when I was younger but I was always around it. I must have absorbed quite a bit. Fabric store trips were torturous and LOOOOONNNNNGGGG. Holidays were always fun because there was always something homemade. Christmas Eve at my Grandma & Grandpa's house was always full of Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. I could never sit still during Mass; I always wanted to get back to their house to open presents. But, they were different kinds of presents...always homemade. I can't remember a single store bought gift from my grandparents. I'm sure there have been some, but those aren't what's clear in my memory. To me, it's all of the outfits that Grandma made...I would grin from ear to ear thinking I was the most special kid on the planet because inside was sewn a tag that said, "Especially made for you by Grandma." The flannel pajama's...ohhh lots of flannel pajamas and when my Laura Ingalls Wilder kick began, my pajamas started coming with flannel hats just like Laura would wear to bed on the TV Show.

My first quilting project was learning how to rotary cut. My Grandma sent me off with her rulers and cutting mat and a giant box of flannel scraps. Now, my Grandma had 6 children, their spouses and 15 grandchildren. The box of scraps was from all of the flannel shirts and pj's that she had made....over a 40 year period. I cut, and cut, and cut 6.5" squares until there was no more fabric in that box to cut. Sure, my squares were all cut pretty wonky...nothing went with or without the grain...heck, I didn't even know what that was! I just kept sewing the squares together. In the end, I made a blanket for my dog, a twin size for myself, my Grandma and my second cousin Sammi along with a Queen Size for my cousin Keri. I was thrilled. But it wasn't until later that I realized what these quilts really meant. My Grandma didn't know about her quilt until her 80th Birthday Party. She was thrilled with it. It was so much fun watching my cousins all gather around my Grandma's quilt, pointing out which flannel pieces they had pajamas out of, uncles pointing out which pieces their flannel shirts were made out of.

In the middle of January I was in a quilt shop and saw a line of fabric that I thought was perfect for my Grandma. I said to my mom, "This summer I'm going to buy that fabric and make Grandma a quilt." Then in the beginning of February she had 3 heart attacks. I felt an overwhelming urge to make it for her right then. I bought the fabric on a Saturday. I chose a pattern called "4 Patch Flip" because I knew it was something that I could put together quickly. I had it in my head that time was of the essence. I ironed the fat quarters and cut the fabric right in front of her while she talked about how beautiful the fabrics were. I didn't let on that they were for her, just kept telling her that they reminded me of her. On Sunday, I sewed the top together, added the borders carefully mitering each corner. By Sunday night the quilt was layered and basted together. On Monday night after work I started to quilt. Mind you, my first experience with Free Motion Quilting was a class at the end of November. I really hadn't had much time to practice but with this quilt I just got it in my head that I was doing it and wasn't going to let my fear stop me. I stippled that entire quilt in three evenings. I used a product called "Quilting Made Easy" on the two borders, added the binding and by Wednesday night I called my mom for help removing basting tacks, cutting strings and removing the paper from the borders. I also managed to clog my vacuum and have to disassemble it that same evening! By Thursday night I was sewing my label on and was ready to take it to my Grandma. All told, since it was in such a short amount of time I was able to add my hours up. It took 25 hours from start to finish. But...I had a lot of nervous energy and worry that was actually working to my benefit and determination.

2007 My Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilt

My Grandma loves her quilt. More than I ever anticipated. I just had that feeling of relief that came from giving it when I had felt so helpless while she was in the hospital. I wanted, no, NEEDED this by way of making a quilt to show her how much I loved her and how much I appreciated her giving me this gift of quilting. I named the quilt, "My Grandmother's Flower Garden." On the label I wrote, "Grandma, Thank you for inspiring me to become the quilter I am today."

Yesterday I spent the morning with her, my Mom and my aunt Kitty at the Hospital. She had 4-5 more episodes that they're now referring to as Angina and having advanced heart disease. This whole thing scares the living hell out of me. Please, keep her in your prayers, she's 87 and none of us are quite done with her yet.

This whole post is probably more than you ever wanted to know, but I felt the need to get my thoughts down and share them.

Thursday, March 29, 2007 - Untitled Comment
Posted by orchidlover (
What a lovely thing to do for your grandma. My quiltmentor was already in advanced stages of cancer when she helped me get started so I never got to make her anything as a thank you. She did leave me some fabric and I made a quilter's bag which carries all my rulers and cutting boards to workshops from it love and hugs gina xxx

Thursday, March 29, 2007 - Untitled Comment
Posted by 51050 (
What a beautiful legacy! What a beautiful expression of your love for her! Rhoda

Thursday, March 29, 2007 - Untitled Comment
Posted by Vera (
What a beautiful quilt and a beautiful Grandma. This all makes me think of my Grandma and miss her even more. She has been gone for a good while but I think of her very often. I'll keep your Grandma in my prayers.

Thursday, March 29, 2007 - Untitled Comment
Posted by scissorhandscps (
I just had a Grandma monent today as a matter of fact and now I'm crying again. You are sooo lucky to have been able to give her her quilt. My grandma's quilt is lying upstairs half quilted because we lost that awesome woman last June. She missed her nintyith birthday by one week. She had also been living on her own and had driven the week before. Congestive heart failure and respitory distress syndrome took her from us and my life will never be the same. Your grandma will be in my prayers. Cindy

Friday, March 30, 2007 - What a beautiful
Posted by ninepatchrose (
woman your grandma is! And how precious that you appreciate her so very much. The quilts are lovely!

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