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
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
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
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
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.
Can you contribute? Please
write us if you would like us to post a story you have about Lawrence County
When you contribute others
find answers. Someday their answers will help you. We are all related.
We are all God's children.