Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quilts on Tuesday

For a long time I have intended to do some posts on quilts. Since the weather has turned chilly enough to bring them back out of the closets and chests I thought it would be a good time. Quilts are an important part of my life. I can't remember much time in my life when I haven't slept under a handmade quilt in my own home. Frankly, the thought of that disturbs me. I can sleep under a commercially produced comforter when I visit somewhere else but at home, it just ain't right.

My mom has been quilting since before I was born and she has made dozens and dozens of quilts in her life. The very first one was an appliqued doll quilt she still has at home. I have the first bed sized quilt she ever produced hanging over a railing in my living room. I grew up playing under her quilt frame and watching her spend hours hunched over it with her glasses perched on her nose as she rocked the needle in and out of the layers of fabric and batting. Let me tell you, if you are a kid who likes to build blanket forts, quilt frames are a most wonderful framework for them. (Lucky kid that I was, I had my grandmother's handmade afghans to throw over the quilt frames for my forts.)

This week I'll share with you the quilt Mom made for me when I was 4. Even at that tender age I got to be involved in the planning of my quilt. It is a quilt made of many picture patches. Each patch was a picture of something I enjoyed or that was important to me.

If you could see the entire quilt you'd find characters from Peanuts and Sesame Street, pictures of my favorite toys and books, cookies and ice cream, horses and dogs, and my roller skates. You can also see the guitar in there. I loved when my grandfather would play for me.
In order to make it even more personal, Mom also included tracings of my hands, a sample of my written alphabet, and an example of my 4 year old artistic expression. In order to get these images, as well as the others I chose, she used tailor's tracing paper to transfer the design onto the fabric, then used fabric paint to make the designs permanent. Here we see young Lime's early artistic efforts. We have a boy and a girl carrying home flowers for Mommy. Notice the boy is bald and the girl has a rather ragged looking skirt. What can I say? All the unfinished, uneven hems we see in fashion today...I was obviously ahead of my time. If you are thinking my flower to human proportions are more than a wee bit off I would suggest you consider that I was very fond of sunflowers and gladiolus. Those are not exactly small flowers.
Here we see early indication of my thrill seeking nature. Yes, I was a 3 year old biker chick. (check the link for a fun, old picture) My first memory of a bike is being 3, straddling the gas tank of my dad's Honda, and shouting into the wind, "Go faster!!!!!"

In addition to choosing the pictures for the top I got to choose the backing fabric. Once again, I did serious injury to my mother's hopes of raising a girly girl when I picked astronauts with rockets and puppies. Actually, if you tried to guess by the backing fabric of our respective quilts you might confuse my quilt with my brother's. This is my fabric. He chose pink and purple clowns.

I don't use this quilt anymore because it has been used so hard I doubt it would tolerate another washing. It's safely tucked away but I still cherish it. My mom also made similar quilts for my children when they each turned 4. I asked her why age 4 when 5 seems so much more momentous since that's when children start kindergarten. She smiled and said she wanted each of us to have a record of the things that mattered most to us and who we were before we entered school, when the only real influence on us had been our family.

27 comments:

Cocotte said...

That is such a fabulous keepsake! I love the characters chosen, esp. the Peanuts ones. Brings back fond memories of my own childhood.

furiousBall said...

that's awesome. my guitar student and good friend (carolyn) is a fabulous quilter and i have learned a deep appreciation for it

coopernicus said...

Love handmade quilts. We used to have a couple but wore them out...another reason to get back to the fair...

Breazy said...

This took me back. I grew up with my mother quilting as well. I remember playing under the quilting frame with mounds of other homemade blankets/afghans as my fort as well. I have three quilts that mom made on a quilting rack in my bedroom, one of those is a quilt called a "Flower Garden" that my mom made for my grandmother. When my grandmother passed in 99 the quilt came to me. We have various other quilts that mom has made throughout the house as well.

Thanks for sharing! The quilt is beautiful and I love how your mother let you choose what went in the quilt.

Have a beautiful day!

G-Man said...

I do indeed understand how important quilts can be in your life. I have one myself from the year I was born. Yours are so cute and meaningful...Good job Trini!!

Suldog said...

I absolutely love quilts! When I was very much younger, I had a patchwork quilt that entertained me just by my looking at the many different bits it was made of. I can still picture most of it, although I haven't seen it in 40 years. Lovely that you still have one from your childhood!

barman said...

What a wonderful story and what a wonderful quilt. I had already decided sunflower when I saw that one flower. You brought a smile to my face when you confirmed that.

Girly girl or not, I think you turned out pretty darn good anyway.

Ella said...

this could have been a "way back wednesday" post! my grandmother quilted as well, mostly from the scrap bag of leftovers from all the clothes she sewed for her 10 children (flordia farm children thank you very much!). the quilt she made me is one of my most treasured items - tucked away because it too couldn't stand any more wear and tear. thanks for the memory!

Ella said...

yeah - that should be "florida"

Ella said...

yeah - that should be "florida"

Craver Vii said...

The 3-yr-old biker chick was cute! I tried to enlarge the photo, but couldn't. :-(

My mom didn't do quilting... (I guess there isn't quite as much appeal for women who grew up in Puerto Rico.) But my wife loves quilts though, and has one special quilt for each of our kids.

NYD said...

Yeah, that's you all right.
My mom did needlework too. I absolutely treasure the few things I have .

lecram said...

I love this post! :) Cheers!

S said...

How cool is your binky? I wish I could see every square.
I especially love the flower drawing.

I was just cleaning out my storage locker and found the very first quilt that I made when I was 11ish...that was fun to see.

;)

Jeni said...

Like you, quilts have always been a big part of my life. My paternal grandmother, who died when I was 2 1/2, made a quilt for me -little girls with bonnets on -really pretty it was too -and it finally bit the dust about two years ago when the usage took it's final toll on it. But it had lasted nearly 60 years. Like you, I grew up with a quilting frame in our living room from October thru April -taken down only for about 2-3 weeks over the Christmas holidays as my maternal grandmother worked wonders with her needle and thread to piece together the very fabric of our life with the scraps of material she would cut into various sizes and shapes and then, put it all together in making some truly beautiful creations. I still have one of her last quilts, done in the late 50's, maybe as late as 1960 or 1961, before her vision no longer allowed her to quilt. It does get used from time to time, but I'm trying NOT to use is so as to keep it intact as long as possible. Some day, I'd like to try my hand at quilting -see how much of that craft I remember after all these years since that grandmother passed in 1963. Beautiful memories this post brought forward for me.

airplanejayne said...

what a beautiful quilt - and such a keepsake.

I've a quilt that my great-grandmother quilted when she was 90 years old.

mssolitaire said...

That is a great quilt!!! :) What an awesome keepsake!

mssolitaire said...

That is a great quilt!!! :) What an awesome keepsake!

Jocelyn said...

That quilt is the first thing you should throw out the window, if the house is ever on fire. Well, okay, wait: first help some of your family out (the ones you like that day), and then grab your car keys and jump, holding the quilt beneath you to cushion your fall.

I am so with you on the quilt love. My mom hand-quilts and has made me quite a snob ("how many stitches per inch does that quilt have?"). I've seen my mom recoil in horror from machined quilts, in fact.

But she's kind of judgemental in general.

Shelly said...

Awesome quilt!

I wish I had done this same sort of quilt for each of my four kids. Time goes by so fast and before you know it they are grown.

Thanks for sharing.

Fred said...

Wow - there's some serious quilting going on here. I could never do anything like that...it takes too much patience.

Cool up there? I wish I could say the same down here.

javajazz said...

wow, that quilt has soul!
just a beautiful personalized collection
of stories in images.
no wonder a commercial quilt
feels so different to you!
when my son left for new york
in the fall, he asked if he could take
a homemade quilt that a dear
old friend had made for us
for our wedding present
that he always used in his bedroom.
it was made by hand, with love,
and it was just right for him.
of course i said yes
knowing he'd be sleeping
under something so special
made from the heart...

Jocelyn said...

Don't I YUV you?

pihlajjo AT lsc.edu

Seamus said...

Quilts like this are such family treasures. Thanks for sharing yours with us! :)

Mona said...

Those quilts are a work of ART! Your mom is an unsung Hero!

& I Love your artwork. It gives a 'soulful' dimension to those quilts!

I LOVE this post Lime! Thank you for some of the most interesting peeks in your personal life.

I love that drawing & enjoyed reading your minute to the detail description & rolled my eyeballs on it accordingly!

Wow!

(M)ary said...

Oh. A homemade, warm and interesting quilt sounds good this morning, with a cup of coffee or tea, a book and no where to go. It sounds like a great way to spend a cool fall morning.

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