Thursday, February 12, 2009

Still Want More Sewing, Less Work

My friend and co-worker, Glen, lamented my lack of posts since February 6. Which is weird because a) he knows I have had no free time because we are so busy at work, and b) he doesn't sew. Or know how to sew. But if he wants to read about sewing, who am I to deprive him of such fascinating details?

I don't know if I had the perfect day last Saturday, but it was Pretty Good, I can tell you that. The temperatures were in the mid to upper sixties in February and it was beautiful. And I made three more blocks for the DWRQ:

I haven't sewn them together but you can see three new ones laid out as they will be joined. My goal is to make 2 blocks each weekend, just so that this project doesn't get impossibly drawn out.

And after the Christmas placemat extravaganza, I am trying to make myself some placemats. I have nothing to show right now, except everything all pinned together, waiting for a free moment and some energy:

And I took the Asian Strip Gift Quilt to the machine quilter's today, having found the perfect backing material last week:

Susan Caldwell at Quilting Around the Block expects to complete the quilting in 2 weeks, so in the meantime I will try to get the binding made from this fabric, which is the same as the inner border on the quilt:

So not much to show, just a lot of works in progress. But I know several bloggers are doing posts on how they began sewing and I'd like to share with you my family history leading to my hobby. I have already told the story of my great-grandmother, Daisy Snell Payne, and her quilt. I have several of her quilts, and I would love to recreate more of them. Daisy died twenty years before I was born, so I never knew her. She had five sons, and no daughters, but the wife of her oldest son was my grandmother, Zadie Payne. Nanny, as we called her. Nanny didn't quilt, but she did embroider, and she taught me embroidery somewhere around 10 years old. I still have several pillow cases and table toppers that she embroidered, along with some I did under her supervision.

The real sewer in my family though was my other grandmother, on my mother's side, Florence Bagley. Here is a photo of her and my grandfather in Belgium in 1961:
I suspect she may have made the suit she is wearing. Here's a photo of her probably taken in the 1950's that I shamelessly pilfered from the Baha'i website (hey, she's my grandma, so I feel entitled):

She was actually half Norweigan, and I don't think she really began sewing seriously until she was married with children. She made most of her family's clothes while my mother and her sister and brother were growing up, and I know she created all of my mother's formal dresses. She sewed clothes for me when I was small - I remember a pink dress with a white appliqued cat on it. And she made all my dresses with pockets, because I loved pockets. I remember a cowboy outfit she made for my brother for Christmas when he was about 7 years old, complete with a vest and chaps with fringe.

The one thing I have that she made was a vest she sewed for my mother in the late 1950s or early 1960s. It was made from fabric given to her by a Persian who was a Hand of the Cause in the Baha'i Faith (as I remember, my mother needs to correct me if I am wrong). I believe she made a vest for my mother, for herself, and for my mother's sister. I have the one she made my mother:

The photos don't really do the vest justice; the satin lining is more of a fushia color than red. You can see here that the button holes are machine worked, but are triangular:

You can see that she handstitched the lining on the bottom of the vest:

And the buttonhole side has a facing:

But the side with the buttons has no facing and the satin lining is handstitched right up to the edge:

The armholes:

And here is the back of the vest; there is seam down the middle:

I think Mother gave me this vest when I left for law school, so I have been wearing it on and off for about 23 years. I don't wear it often, but I love it, and it fits beautifully - there are four darts - two in front and two in back. It feels luxurious with the satin lining. Bringing this vest out to photograph has made me realize I haven't worn it in a while. And tomorrow has been declared a jeans day at work - I'm thinking I'll wear this vest with a pair of jeans and white blouse!


Claire S. said...

Lucky you, having these wonderful memories of your grandmother. That vest is fabulous !

My Grammy (mother's mother) was a seamstress. Apparently, she did all the sewing for her family of 4 children as well as the sewing she did for income. This would have been in the 1920's & 30's. Something I never knew about her til after she passed away, and as far as I know, there were no pieces of her work kept by any of the family.

Vicki W said...

Be sure to take your time on that quilt.

Summerset said...

I agree with Vicki - be careful with the quilt. Those curved seams can be tricky and stretch. Your longarmer will thank you if the quilt is nice and flat before quilting. It is coming along nicely though.

The vest is beautiful - a real work of art.

Anonymous said...

This is an experiment - a short comment (from a short person) just to see if I can finally manage to get the bloody thing to post. Oh - and I love your blog, too!


cjp said...

All your info on Gramma Bagley is correct. She did sew all her clothes growing up since they didn't have much money and less when she and grampa first got married. But it also satified her artistic ben. You might want to show the bonnet quilt she started sometime - and finish it. How about the quilts from your granfarther's side that your cousin gave you (unfinished) As usual you have an excellent memory.

Love you. Mom

cjp said...

Oops, should have previewed my remarks. I do know how to spell "bent" and "grandfather".