Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Handmade

Some time last month while my husband was away, the children and I were all snuggled in my bed reading. Princess asked, "Which is your favorite flower?" At first I began thinking of peonies, azaleas, wisteria, irises, roses . . . Then I realized she wasn't talking about botanical flowers, but the quilted flowers on the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt on my bed.

We studied the flowers and each picked a favorite and while choosing the flower of the moment talked about the time and effort spent, and the number of stitches Grandmother Florence stitched creating this beautiful quilt, one of many. This quilt was pieced by hand in 1931 by Grandmother Florence and quilted by hand by Grandmother Florence and her mother in 1932. When she gave it to me about twelve years ago, she tried to instill in me the value of her time and the quilt with detailed care instructions. She needn't have wasted her words. I knew.

After Mr. W. and I got married, we visited her and I admired her quilts. I decided to try to make one, a garden quilt. She instructed me on stitch size, keeping the stitches even, seam allowance. To create is art, but is also labor. The next trip home, I brought my work. I watched in horror as she disassembled entire flowers, critiquing technique, while explaining that the piecing had to be near perfect especially at corners for durability. I knew she was correct.

Durability. How many things in your home do you still find beautiful and useful after 76 years? How about after ten years? one year? six weeks? one week? I've been thinking a lot about this quilt, constructed of bits and pieces during the depression. In fact, I am inspired to make more life changes because of it.

I want fewer things, beautifully made. I want honest products. I want to make things my children will value. I want my life and all the things in it to be like this quilt - as practical, durable, and beautiful as the lady who made it. Though she died last year at 101, her legacy of practicality, of quality, honest work, of beauty will live through me.

5 comments:

m~ said...

Oh, that is so true. My parents recently sent me my MGM's dresser and chest-of-drawers. The guy who pack it said that they don't make furniture like this anymore. Sad, but true. When you can pay someone in another country to produce 11 million cheap knockoffs for a buck and hour and the American public jumps at it so they can have more crap in their homes. How sad. I hope your children treasure that quilt.

JoVE said...

That is beautiful. I'm not a great fan of hand piecing, particularly of regular shapes, since he sewimg machine makes such a nice job of it, but hand quilting is well worth the effort. I've never managed to tackle a project larger than a baby quilt, though. Maybe a longer view is what is needed.

mull-berry said...

We definitely live in a disposable society. I notice it more in my sisters who are ten years younger. I still have a hard time throwing away a perfectly good glass jar ... I do feel better when it can be recycled. Don't get me started on gift wrap!!!

Durability. Does this mean there's a quilt in your future? : )

Kate in NJ said...

That's beautiful.
My Mum-in-law quilts, and we all really love wrapping ourselves up in her "love".

Wisteria said...

A quilt is in the future. I think I will finish the one I started 17 years ago. I do have some more immediate projects - finished. I'll show you soon.