Circa 1840

Hand quilting from a stencils.com pattern inspired by handwork from the 1840s. 

Hand quilting from a stencils.com pattern inspired by handwork from the 1840s. 

If I were to tell you that I'm really getting the hang of this hand quilting thing, it would surprise no one, right? 

Thr history aspect of quilting keeps my curious side engaged while the methodical following of patterns with measured stitches gets my zen going. 

I've noticed myself boring strangers with appeals to learn quilting from their family members who are around to teach them. And to ask for the stories! 

The story I'll never forget about the woman who made the squares that I'm quilting now has nothing to do with the quilt itself. I was in fourth grade having dinner at her house in the retirement community (frozen chicken pot pie--yum) and she told me that she'd left high school to go to work because she saw the other girls at school wearing pretty dresses and she wanted to buy herself one and be like them.

Maybe it sticks with me because I love a pretty dress, too.  But I never buy a pretty dress without thinking of that story. And some of these gorgeous fabrics in the quilt may be scraps from dresses. It makes me wonder-- did she learn to sew so she could finally make those dresses she wanted? Are these the scraps from the dresses she purchased and wore out? Could the victory of buying those dresses be preserved in this quilt?

My conjecture is romanticizing, of course. Truthfully, she had a rough life and struggled a great deal. I only knew her as a child and I didn't ask any hard-hitting questions. 

But I did ask her for sewing help and she patiently obliged, teaching me the magic of wrong sides together for hidden seams. When I was nine years old, it was a revelation! 

I will never know the full story, the details or whether she got those pretty dresses, but the least I can do is finish this quilt.

More pictures soon, darlings!