Sunday, November 16, 2008

Patchwork quilting with Grandma

We didn't live with my maternal Grandma, she came to visit frequently and to help Mum when she gave birth to my younger siblings. She came to cook for Mum's confinement month, that is the whole month after a woman had her baby.

Grandma made one patchwork quilt for each of her three daughters. As a kid, my immediate younger sister Margaret and I had fun looking for her Chinese stars. Her stars were very unusual. It has 21 pieces of tiny squares and triangles cleverly stitched together. She didn't make many stars as it was very difficult to make.

In 1975, my nephew Wayne was born. Grandma came to visit. Sister Elizabeth requested her to make a patchwork for her first great grand son. Grandma was hesitant. Her heart wanted to make this, but her head told her that she was in her 80s, it would be impossible to make one as she was just visiting.

I told her, " I will help you."

So we did, grandma and grand daughter pair. She did the cutting and supervision, and I went on my mum's old manual Singer machine.

"Not so fast, Not so fast"

But I went went ziz, ziz, ziz, ziz as I pedaled along. She admonished my 'fast hand, fast leg'. I committed myself to help her, I didn't have 6 months to help her. Times I made a mistake, she wanted me to unpick it.

I said," No way, it is only for a baby."

We finished the quilt in a matter of days. I blackmailed Wayne, because he is the only great grand child that Grandma made a quilt for.

Despite the hectic time, I learn an invaluable skill. I could make a Chinese patchwork quilt. At that time, I vowed that I will never make another one, too old fashion. Now, I am glad, because I am probably the only grand daughter of hers who has inherited her skill.

Fast forward to 1990, I saw my good friend Owlyn Dickson's light blue quilt on her bed. It was so beautiful, I am reminded of my grandma's quilts. I came home, and made a quilt for D. I made nine Chinese stars, and the rest, I basically used squares. I made this queen size Chinese quilt in 3 days over the weekend. I didn't have much sleep. This time ziz, ziz, ziz, ziz on my electric Janome machine was reminiscent of the time with grandma.

The water engineer was a gem, he babysat D 5, and G 2. He took the girls shopping at Farmers for D to choose a backing for her quilt. She chose a lemon colour and I asked her why she didn't choose a pink.

The reason why I sewed frantically was I had to vacate my sewing room. Our friend J was coming to stay with us. He was our very good friend, and was an Engineering post graduate student with the water engineer at Auckland University.

D still has that quilt. I told her not to use it. It is unlikely that I will ever make another one. (Who knows, may be when I become a grandma, I may do it.) She wanted to frame it, I told her it was too big, not until she was successful in her career and has her own big house.

***This is the quilt I made for D, you have to look carefully for the stars. You will understand when my sister Margaret and I had fun looking for them.***


XUE said...

Very impressive! This is precisely the type of traditional quilt that comes to mind & that scares me! What I made is much easier & mistakes need not be ripped out! Who knows, maybe one day I will try to make one of these intricate quilts as you had. But for now, I have another 4 of these rag quilts in my agenda! Fei zhang li hai!

hetty said...

It is exactly one year ago that you posted this lovely story about your quilt, so I hope you find my comment. (your email is set to no-reply) I love your quilt, Ann! It is always interesting for me to see quilts that were inspired by other cultures and traditions. Putting stars in the quilt and making a game out of finding them is a wonderful idea. I am so glad that your grandmother taught you how to quilt and I am even more grateful that you took the time to send me the site for this one. It is truly wonderful! Thank you for sharing.