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QUILTS....

By Sharon Young Jebavy

I've always puzzled at why I have been able to develop my creativity over
the years in so many different areas.  I believe I owe it to the "country"
part of my early life and to the quilts.....

My mom's mother lived with us. In those days it was accepted that the
women of the house would piece and put together quilts. Our house was
no exception to this practice.  I grew up with two women who cut and
sewed quilts, dropping little scraps of colorful material on the floor as
they worked. These quilts, piled one on top of the other, kept the entire
family toasty warm in their beds on cold winter nights in a house without
insulation or central heating.

I've always thought these quilts were so beautiful and warm. But they are
much more than objects used to warm cold nights.  These quilts are the
resulting creativity of generation after generation of women, who left
family and friends to travel to a new world with the men they loved, gave
birth to the new Americans, lived physically hard lives, helped carve out a
new nation and build cities that grew to be the land of our present day
lives.  All the enduring parts of this creativity combine with each
successive generation and grow and change; and as they change they
remain the same.  The quilts, like a history book, tell the story of our
nation.

At our house quilts were usually made from the still-good portions of
otherwise worn out clothes.  We could look at a quilt and identify pieces
from Mom's dress, Maw's apron or maybe, my dad's or brother's shirts.
We had one quilt made almost entirely from wool pieces.  A lot of these
came from mine and my sister's skirts when we were in school.  One quilt
was made from old blue jeans with a flannel lining.  That was the heaviest
quilt I've ever seen!  After we moved to Columbus, Mom and Maw made a
quilt from the pieces of men's pants that were cut off when the pants were
cuffed.  A neighbor who worked in a pants factory supplied these pieces.
This quilt had colors too subdued for my tastes; I was used to the calico
and feed sack!

I have a doll dress I made by hand when I was 9; it is a "sack" dress in
light blue and white.  It has a large lumpy handworked buttonhole; my
first.  About that same time, I was allowed to learn to sew on the Singer
treadle sewing machine (it sits now in my dining room).  I ran the needle
through my fingers twice.  I begged my older brother not to tell; he did
anyway.

The year I was 12, I had a giant leap in creativity.  That year I began
making my own clothes and I taught myself to knit and crochet from a
book. It's been a constant chain of creativity since then.  My newest effort
was learning first to make and then design beaded earrings.  I take very
little credit for this creativity.  I owe it all to the quilts!

I can remember crawling around on the floor under the quilting frames.
The frames, with quilt top stretched over them, created a flat topped tent
and a more comforting place cannot be found for a toddler than under the
quilting frames, crawling around the feet of her mother and her
grandmother.

Sometime around the time I was three years old I began begging for a
needle and thread to sew together the colorful scraps I had collected from
the floor as Mom and Maw (that's what we called our grandmother) cut
out quilt pieces.  Not being successful at getting a needle and thread for
several years after I was three, I learned just to enjoy the scraps for
their
color and the odd little shapes they took on as they were discarded when
the quilt pieces were cut.

Another early memory comes to me that is associated with the quilting
frames:  Before I could talk I remember our dog, Spot, not coming home
one night.  I remember hearing the adults talking about where she could
be.  They talked about hearing Spot walking across the front porch in the
night and rattling the quilting frames waiting there to be used.  I knew
where Spot was.  But I could not articulate it to my mom or grandmother.
I tried to pull on their dress tails and point to Spot.  They didn't
understand.  But I knew where Spot was.

You see, from my vantage point, I was maybe three feet tall, I could see
Spot, through the window, lying under an evergreen tree that had
branches almost to the ground.  Spot was dead.

I have always considered it my duty to learn to quilt and to produce at
least one quilt before the end of my life.  Back when my sons were both in
school I did just that.  The blocks of the quilt I designed to commemorate
different times in my life and different people I have loved.
I got started on this project by using a new technique for quilting called
Lap Quilting.  Each block is pieced, layered with the filling and backing
and then quilted separately.  When all the blocks are done, they are sewn
together to form the quilt and then bound around the edges.

I carried these blocks around with me the entire school year.  I drove my
sons to school, so I used the time when I waited to pick them up to work
on the quilt.

I've since made a smaller quilt and I will probably make other quilts.
Somehow I feel like something was lost in the lap quilting.  It's the
frames.  I'm hoping my sons will have happy memories of me and my lap
quilting as I do of Mom and Maw and the frames!  The results are the
same.   You see, the more the quilts change, the more they stay the same.
Ah.....the quilts!
 
 
 


 
 

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