Friday, January 6, 2012

Folklife Friday: Sewing Scraps Together

The winter deepens, the new year is still brand new, and once again, I am beset with the mood to cut fabric into little pieces and sew them together again.

Our Christmas break from school was always highly anticipated, and we loved every minute of it until Christmas was over.  Then, the days became boring, the weather keeping us inside with nothing to do.  The only electronic entertainment we had was a radio with a dial and a daily market report lamenting the fluctuating prices of corn and pork bellies.

My Grandma Gean lived within walking distance of our house, so just about every day, I walked to her house to 'quilt piece'.


Grandma was the neighborhood seamstress, and her patrons usually gave her the leftover fabric scraps from their projects.  She had to use the larger scraps for her own quilts, of course, but she saved the smaller ones for me and my lil' ole sister.

Grandma would cut squares or other shapes from the omnipresent Sears catalog, and we would sew the small scraps, some just strings, to the paper.  After the whole paper block was covered, she showed us how to trim the scraps so the blocks were perfect.  At least, we thought they were perfect.  I was amazed that it was possible to create something so beautiful out of scraps that were seemingly worthless.  To my knowledge, none of those blocks we did exist today, but the lessons they taught are still going strong.


Fifty years later, after teaching many quilt classes and compiling a stack of blue ribbons, people often ask where and how I learned to do what I do.  It was on Grandma's couch, warm from the wood heater, listening to the wind-up clock ticking the seconds away, pushing that needle in and pulling it out.  Then, pushing it in again and pulling it out again.