I guess you could say I have a genetic quilt gene inherited from my Great Grandma Bessie, Great Aunt Ruth, and my mother, Joann! There was always a quilt frame in my great grandmother’s dining room which was a great place to play, especially as an imaginary home for doll babies! Laying on the floor looking up at a quilt top being carefully hand stitched by grandma, watching the design taking shape was so interesting and so very peaceful. She would often give me a needle and let me sit beside her as she guided my hand in adding my own quilt stitches to her beautiful quilt. My grandmother made quilts till her hands and eyes no longer allowed her to do so, well into her mid-late 80s. In the late 1950 early 1960s, I can remember Grandma and her daughter, Vera, using sandpaper, sometimes brown grocery bags or cardboard, cut to a shape to use as a pattern for the fabric. Generally, the fabric was from used clothing. Each pattern piece was then cut by hand with scissors before being expertly sewn by hand with needle and thread into a block, and the blocks sewn together to make the quilt top. Then the top was loaded onto a quilt frame, and quilted by hand! Can you imagine the time and the patience it took to make? I know at some time, Grandma had a sewing machine, but I never saw her use it!
I marvel and have a deep appreciation for the older “vintage” quilts. I wonder about the hands and the people who made these beautiful quilts, their thoughts as they stitched, the lives they lived. They left such a legacy that possibly outlasted the maker by many, many years. Often being loved and cherished family heirlooms passed down from generation to generation! Ok, now you know my sentimental side!
My mom, Joann, was an amazing seamstress, making everything from wedding dresses to ladies business suits, bell-bottom pants, and curtains/drapes! She developed a love of quilting after she retired, making hundreds of beautiful quilts for her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She also bought a fancy sewing/embroidery machine and her creativity developed to another level! Every Christmas for many years, she gifted a tree ornament of an angel, snowman, snowflake, or similar holiday design to her family and friends. Now that she has passed away, they are treasured indeed. She also created lovely wall hangings, table toppers, and Christmas tree skirts. She was blessed with amazing skill and talent. My mom belonged to the Colonial Quilt Club, a group of local ladies who got together weekly to hand quilt tops for people. My Great Aunt Ruth was also a long-time member of this club, as well as my Great Grandma Bessie, and I have a memory of attending one of their quilting days with Grandma!
My journey began when I wanted to make a quilt for a future step grandbaby. I was not a sew-er of anything, since I had my mom do all the projects and repairs! So, I looked to her for help. She taught me so much and I was hooked! I even quilted that first project by hand! Life got busier and although I thoroughly enjoyed making a quilt, I didn’t do much for several years.
When I married my husband, Richard, in 1976, he was father to Angela and John, we had Mandi, Brett, and Brian together, and after growing them all up and getting them on their own, we adopted Charli and Serah as baby girls and started over! Sadly, my husband passed away, leaving me a very “mature” single mom. The girls and I moved to a home that gave me a dedicated sewing room which my older kids furnished with all I needed to make my “Happy Place”! This is when I really got serious about quilting and have made quite possibly near a 100 quilts!
When my daughter, Mandi, extended the quilt gene line in our family, by deciding to make a quilt. It was a special experience with three generations: my mom, my daughter and myself. I tend to gravitate more towards traditional style quilts, and Mandi is amazing with T-shirts and custom memory quilts, whether she’s using old shirts, jackets, or Crown Royal bags. She even makes memory pillows! She’s much braver than me! But, we make a good team!
I have lived in Wapello, Iowa, my entire life, and probably always will! I like to read, do word games, puzzles, spend time with family, and can make great coconut cream and apple pie! I especially love Christmas time! I am about to become an empty nester when my youngest heads off to college this fall. That will be strange after 48 years of being a mom and taking care of kids! I currently work at our elementary school as a special education paraprofessional, but retirement from that job is on my horizon as Mandi and I move forward with our quilt business. I’m excited to think I can do something with quilting and fabric every day!
As my life is sliding towards the “golden years,” I know that God has a plan for me, He has carried me through dark grievous times, and rejoiced with me in the happiest of times. With Him all things are possible!