Both my grandmothers were quilters. My mother’s mother was born in 1901. She lived in a big farmhouse and often had a quilt frame hanging from the ceiling in “the room across the hall.” I spent many wonderful weeks every summer at that farm. When my grandmother died in 1974, I received one of her quilts. My mother got a bundle of her hand-pieced triangles to which she later added pieces to make Scrappy Basket blocks. She then sashed the blocks together with a red fabric but she didn’t like how that looked so when she moved to Florida in 2001, we went in search of a more suitable fabric. Because the baskets were black gingham, she chose black with some small flowers and leaves. She resashed it and put it away.
Later my friend Judy from Atlanta brought me an old quilt frame someone was giving away. Although I wasn’t a quilter, she knew I had a collection of weaving and spinning “stuff” so quilting was related, right? The quilt frame was on the rustic side–two homemade saw horses and two long flat sticks with a series of holes at either end. There was a fabric header attached to each stick Four 4-inch bolts dropped into some sawhorse holes to create the tension for the quilt sandwich. When my mother saw it, she asked me if I wanted to quilt the Scrappy Baskets. I was good at sewing clothing by machine but had never done much handwork. In fact, I had never gotten comfortable with a thimble. But I figured why not.
The quilt top wasn’t very big so mom added two border rows and bought a bag of batting and unbleached muslin for the backing. The day we were supposed to start she was late arriving at my house. She had put the poly batting in the dryer to smooth out the wrinkles but it got somewhat melted instead (we use a hair dryer on wrinkles now) so she and dad had to purchase another bag on the way. My aunt had told her about basting spray so she picked up a can of that too. We got the sandwich together using my tile floor in the living room which I had mopped in anticipation of the event. We weren’t particularly thrilled with the basting spray but maybe we oversprayed a bit–check out our sticky feet! Mine are the darker ones. Surely I must have picked up that dirt in a different part of the house 🙂 Anyway, it was a slow start as I needed some basic instruction. But over the next few weeks, together we got it done (June 2002). I bound it with packaged 1-inch black bias tape. I did not know about mitering the corners. (A redo with continuous folded binding is on my “round toit” list.) Then I started using it for cover. It is not among the prettiest quilts I’ve ever seen, but to me it is a treasure because three generations of women in my family have handwork in it. And learning that finishing a quilt was not such a daunting task, somehow sparked a fire in me to create my own quilts. But that required a trip to Barnes and Nobel where I purchased my first quilt book–The Encyclopedia of Quilting and Patchwork Techniques by Katherine Guerrier. Hope you stay tuned for the next chapter.