Linny t's Work of our Hands

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. " KJV

A Mother's Garden of Memories
Hand work. When it comes to sewing by hand, it's kind of like opera; you either love it or you hate it. For those who love it, the words "Hand Made" take on a whole new meaning. For those who hate it, just the mention of those words brings a cringe. Those who hate it will try anything to avoid it, calling it the "H" word. Those who love it, when contemplating a new project, will conjure up visions of time spent in the comfort of their favorite sewing place, surrounded by all their favorite tools, spending time doing nothing else except stitching along while solving the problems of the universe in the back of their mind. One who loves it wonders how anyone could hate it.
I believe that it is the hatred of hand sewing that has brought the sewing machine to what it is today. Years ago sewing was viewed as a chore and it really was. Before the sewing machine, women made clothes for the whole family by hand. Imagine living on a homestead or even in a pre-industrial age town. No pavement anywhere. Every time you had to use the restroom you had to walk outside, down the dirt path. Daily chores required everyone to go out into the barn or field. Getting water required a walk to the well or river. The clothes you spent hours making for your children were sure to get filthy withing the first hour of being worn. All the women and girl's dresses were ankle length, dragging in the dirt all the time. Washing the clothes required a trip to the river or washtub, again, outdoors and washing by hand. It sounds like a thankless chore to me. No wonder the women made quilts with the leftovers. At least the hard work put in to a quilt stayed inside until they needed to be washed. I heard a poem written by a woman on the prarie fronteer that I wish I had written down. It spoke about the quilts she made with love to keep the children from freezing to death at night and the making of which that kept her from going mad. Can you imagine such a life?
How far sewing has come since then! Today sewing is a creative act that we do because we want to and can, not because we have to. Most only sew by hand if they actually want to because almost every sewing activity can be accomplished by machine today. Techniques for machine quilting, machine applique and machine embroidery are the news today. Some machine artists do not have hand skills at all and see no need to obtain them.
The art of sewing by hand would fade entirely were it not for those of us who love to pick up needle and thread and quitely stitch some heirloom piece fit to be handed down to our children, grandchildren, etc. Some of us were taught to sew by our mothers and grandmothers who still viewed hand sewing as a valuable skill. Is it romanticism to believe in hand sewing? I like to imagine what it was like to be a victorian lady. Their sewing skills made them important in their social circles. They chose projects that were challenging to show off their skills and were proud of the amount of time they had invested in them. Their handywork is what we seek as collectible today. I wonder how our skills would measure up to theirs. Would they look down on us or would they be intrigued and challenged by the machines we use today?
This photo is a photo of a quilt I finished in December of 2005.
It's a queen size Grandmother's Flower Garden I named "A Mother's Garden of Memories". I made this quilt entirely by hand for one of my daughters mostly out of fabric I salvaged from some of the clothing she wore as a child. Some of it was from dresses I made for her. I had carted that fabric around for 20+ years. It took me 3+ years to complete this quilt. I remember thinking I'd never finish it, but I did! I made that quilt during some of the most challenging years of my life...the years I had to raise 2 of my grandchildren, turning 50, my mother's death, my brother's death, 4 hurricanes (I live in Florida), becoming a Christian and much, much more. Making that quilt kept me from going mad, although some people said I was already mad for attempting to make it by hand. Quite literally, my blood, sweat and tears went into this quilt. That's why I named it what I did; it was full of my memories, both good and bad. When I finally finished it, it was very dirty. I was afraid that the stains wouldn't come out, but was surprised that they all did...all except the little blood stains where I'd pricked my finger while hand quilting. I didn't even know they were there until I washed it. When I pointed this out to my daughter she said that's what she loved about it the most!
If I had spent those 3+ years making quilts by machine, I would have made many more than just one quilt, but none of them would have been that quilt.
Published Thu, Jul 30 2009 7:41 PM by Linny t

Comments

# re: A Mother's Garden of Memories@ Thursday, July 30, 2009 7:29 PM

that is truly a beautiful quilt and I know you are a gifted seamstress.  I am one of those that's Mother taught her the gift of sewing... I learned at a very tender age - sewing clothes, knitting, crocheting, tatting... embroidery.  I love them all - I love hand sewing but am unable to do it anymore - it is hard to type on a keyboard and that doesn't strain my hands the way hand sewing does so I am very grateful for my sewing machine - I do still do my bindings by hand to sew them in place.  I still do some hand work though but those are projects that take me a long time.  In between, I do a lot of machine sewing.

I like to think that the women who sewed loved doing it for more then just a job to clothe their kids and their families - they gave us stories through their sewing.  I love reading about their artwork in quilts.  I have a couple books that show the quilts from the early 1800s and I love them.  I think they were blessed when they got sewing machines to make their lives easier.

I am glad that you enjoyed and stuck with making this quilt - it is beautiful.

by Thea

# re: A Mother's Garden of Memories@ Thursday, July 30, 2009 7:48 PM

Thank you.  

by Linny t

# re: A Mother's Garden of Memories@ Thursday, July 30, 2009 7:48 PM

Linny,

That quilt is beautiful and I'm sure your daughter treasures it. I am in awe of those of you who hand quilt. I did make one years ago, but never again.  Not so much that I did not like doing it, although I don't think I could now, but I am so slow and would never get anything complted. Thank you so much for sharing.

# re: A Mother's Garden of Memories@ Friday, October 30, 2009 11:17 AM

Your quilt is beautiful. I hold anyone that can do all their quilting by hand in high respect.  I tried once and my hands just wasn't up to the task.  I love your story and have often wondered what the women of yesterday would think of our way of life...especially the disposability of everything.

by Nana

# re: A Mother's Garden of Memories@ Friday, October 30, 2009 1:56 PM

what a beautiful quilt and story behind the quilt.  I learned to quilt by hand..both piecing and quilting and I did love it but have been lured away from it with the speed of machine quilting.  I do like having hand work to do and I have some hand quilting that needs to be finished and I do plan on finishing it..thanksfor sharing your lovely quilt with us and welcome to QCA it is a wonderful site and there are a lot of lovely ladies here

# re: A Mother's Garden of Memories@ Friday, October 30, 2009 5:52 PM

Nana, thanks for your compliments.  And, yes, the disposability of everything disturbs me, too.  My parents were children of the great depression and they taught me to save every little thing for re-use (just ask my husband).  It has a name these days....recycling....going green.  We have so many conveniences today.

Helen, thanks for your compliments, too.  Machine quilting is a real art, I believe.  I'm not comfortable doing it, but I admire those who do.  I love this community so far.  Everyone has been genuinely kind and helpful.  It's great to be able to share freely with others of like mind and heart.

by Linny t

# re: A Mother's Garden of Memories@ Saturday, December 12, 2009 9:06 AM

I find comfort in hand sewing, and other hand work.  I like to tat, but I am not very good at it yet.  I can only remain seated if I am somehow occupied.  Reading a very good book, or doing some hand work.  It calms me, the creative process enchants me and opens my mind to good thoughts.

Your work is beautiful and full of good thoughts.

by Patti

# re: A Mother's Garden of Memories@ Saturday, December 12, 2009 3:17 PM

Eloquently put Linny. Sewing has come a long way. My grandmother taught me to sew on a sewing machine but somehow I developed a love for hand work. After I took a class on hand quilting I knew this was what I wanted to do. It is truly relaxing. I wish I had more time to do more quilts this way.

Your quilt is beautiful. I think the blood on it makes it all the more special.

by Kris

# re: A Mother's Garden of Memories@ Thursday, July 21, 2011 11:59 AM

Linny,

I just love reading your posts. I can envision my great great grandmother sitting with all the daughters hand sewing by the fire in winter whe there weren't so many chores to be done.

  Your quilt is beautiful, and a wonderful keepsake for you daughter.

# re: A Mother's Garden of Memories@ Thursday, July 21, 2011 4:21 PM

Linny,

Thanks for sharing your beautiful quilt and loving stories.   I agree there is something about hand quilting that is completely different and special.

Robin

by Robin

# re: A Mother's Garden of Memories@ Thursday, July 21, 2011 5:12 PM

Thanks, Stephanie and Robin.

by Linny t

# re: A Mother's Garden of Memories@ Wednesday, January 4, 2012 6:30 PM

Linny, Your Mother's Garden of Memories is truly amazing.  I am sure your daughter will cherish it for a long time.  I know I would.  My mother made me one out of silk ties.  It is still in the flower stage because each time I go home , something happens like my Dad breaking his hip, my Mom being in the hospital for 3 weeks... But I know that one day, we will finish that quilt together.

Being 53 now, I appreciate all the work and love my mother put into each quilt she made.  We sometimes question her choice of color but they always turned out exactly perfect for the person she was making it for.  I hope that one day my quilts will be heirlooms for family or friends.

Thank you so much for sharing you quilt and your story.  I know that a quilt is a labour

of love, and it shows in yours.

Angele

by Angele