I have sewn since I was taught at my mother's old Singer at the age of six. In those days, my parents were involved in the Tam Valley Improvement Club's original set of "Rhubarb Revues." This meant Mom spent lots of time making costumes during the Fifties. When I turned twelve, the old Singer died and Mom purchased what then was a "state of the art" Italian sewing machine - a Necchi Nora. The machine came with a tube full of "cams" that let us put designs and patterns on sewn pieces and also allowed some embroidery tools for monograms, etc. We were in heaven and that machine was used heavily as I made my way through high school dances! I tried to "steal" the machine from Mom when my children were born, but there was no way she would let go of it. When she became sick with multiple myeloma, she told my younger daughter that the machine was for her. I would have felt offended had I not already purchased my own new Viking! That machine went with us to Saudi Arabia where we lived for a year. While I was there, another woman in the compound noticed the machine and exclaimed, "when your contract is up, I am buying that machine from you - you can buy yourself another when you get home!" Understanding, I sold her the machine and once home, I bought my Pfaff 1227, "sold" on the dual feed foot feature which fit my eager-to-go sewing style. I made my own and my children's clothing plus costumes and all kinds of things for special occasions for years and years on that machine. Meanwhile neither daughter showed any interest in learning to sew. After high school, my eldest daughter enrolled in FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) where she took on industrial sewing machines without a blink of an eye - osmosis?
I had always been intrigued with quilting. I saw quilts friends of my grandmother's were working on during summer trips to Oklahoma. They stitched as they did Bible study and chatted. Their sewing went with them everywhere as they kept "idle hands" busy and away from the Devil. I was both daunted and impressed with what they were producing, all hand-work! Embroidery made by my grandmother for my mother is now being used by me and I treasure it! The same goes for knit and crocheted pieces made by my Grama - my challenge was to figure out where my own hands fit in. At some point in the 70s, I became aware that folks were using machines to make quilts. Having seen so much hand work, I initially thought this was "cheating." On the other hand, while quilting a whole quilt had always seemed an impossibility in the amount of available time I had. I always carried "hand work projects" in the car to take with me and keep my hands busy while I sat on bleachers, watching my four kids go thru endless hours of practices and game, but the idea of working on a whole quilt seemed impossible.
Now the kids are grown and we have moved to our farm. In our new surroundings, not only do I have the luxury of company with extremely talented women to spur me forward, I have the luxury of time to finish even more than one quilt! Our local group, Konocti Quilters, donates quilts to the Sheriff's Office that they can give them out to people in tough circumstances. I am developing my own unique style and this page is devoted to keeping a record of my progress and a catalog of the work. Not surprising given my background, I use a combination of techniques. My own elder daughter long ago "borrowed" and has my Pfaff, so I used a workhorse Bernina 717 from 2002-2008 when I upgraded to a Pfaff with more than all the bells and whistles I should ever need. I have learned that I am not alone in needing a room devoted to my stash, where the machine, iron, cutting board, etc. are set up at all times; nor am I alone in going through several machines! I am getting ready to replace that original Pfaff with a "new" "used" Pfaff which will work with computer designs and software... More Heaven!!
I have concluded that for now, piecing by machine, then embellishing and quilting by hand are what feels right, but who knows what will evolve over time ...
Tudor Rose & Lilies (coming soon)