Friday, February 11, 2011

Crazy Patchwork Quilting

Let me just start out by saying, I am not a "quilter;" rather, I am a person who has made a few quilts...very small quilts. When I was just a little girl-maybe 7 or 8-my mother taught me how to make quilts for my dolls. I used a 3" square piece of cardboard as a template to cut the squares and then learned to both hand stitch and machine sew them together. They're not fancy, but I still have them.

Like many hobbies, quilting has turned into big business, and one can spend hundreds of dollars on a pass-time that started out as a way to use up old, otherwise worthless material. Today government regulations are such that you can't even sell a quilt that has used batting as filling. (Don't even get me started.) I was blessed to have a mom who quilted the old fashioned way. She had a big wooden box (5'X2'X1.5'-handmade, of course) in the attic that housed her scrap material and partially finished quilts. Sadly, this was lost in the fire. She wasn't a hand-quilter, per se; she worked on an antique treadle-type Singer sewing machine up until she was in her eighties.  Her quilts generally looked like the one in this picture, minus the hand stitching. She never worried about colors or thread counts. She very randomly sewed together like materials-cotton, polyester, flannel-nothing was off-limits- in "crazy" patterns. Sometimes she would make little squares, then alternate them with a certain color and use an old sheet for backing. The filling for her quilts was usually old quilts. She never, to my knowledge, bought anything more than needles and thread; she just used up things around the house and old bags of clothes that were given to her. One of my favorites was a quilt she made from my Dad's flannel shirts (after he passed away). It wasn't even a quilt, really, as it had no filling, she just sewed the squares together and then backed the whole thing with an old bedspread she had.  Her purpose in quilting was to use up material and to "keep people warm." I have a twin-size crazy patchwork quilt that she made me when I went off to college and I have smaller rather random baby quilts that she made for each of my children. Some are crazy patchwork, some have her embroidery, and all of them are a different size. I will give them to my kids when they have their first babies, and I'm sure they will be more cherished than any number of expensive new items.

I have several boxes of material that I have saved over the years and I have grand delusions that "someday" I will turn these into beautiful quilts to give to my own children who will  stand in awe at my domestic prowess. At this point in my life, I'm realistic enough to admit that this probably won't happen, but it's a happy thought.

I'm blogging on the subject because I've been thinking more and more about traditionally frugal pass-times that have turned into expensive hobbies. Not that that is always a bad thing, it's just sad in some ways and it causes people to think that any given hobby is beyond their reach either because it costs too much or because they would have to take multiple classes to learn how to do it. And I don't think this is the case--my mom was proof of that.

So what about you? Have you ever not done something because you think it's just too hard or that you don't have the money? Think smaller, and there just might be a way.


  1. I have always loved quilts of any kind...When I was travel nursing in Kentucky I went to the National Museum of American Quilts in Padukah. What an amazing display of artwork!
    Once, when I was a stay at home mom I took a class on quilt making. I got one block was all hand sewn. I did not own a machine. I thought I had accomplished alot, but I was far behind my fellow students who had I did not pursue it any further...
    I bought a used oboe last year to get back my knowledge of when I played in HS, I actually thought I would be able to play it in the church orchestra. But the orchestra dissolved and I lost my ambition. Maybe some day I will get it back.

  2. Thanks for the thoughts! And keep at that Oboe...tough instrument to play.