When I sew with my daughters, I feel the reverb of generations of mothers and daughters, stitching and pinning and planning their craft, their projects together.
I don’t worry if a stitch is wrong or curvy, or that edges don’t meet up perfect, or if a nightgown hem is a little wobbly. It’s a learning process.
In the old days, a young lady was expected to have 13 quilts done by the time she married. Her 13th quilt was to be her masterpiece, the quilt with all her finest blocks and stitches in place, and the ladies of the area would gather and help her to finish it, pin and stitch the top to the bottom and set her on her way as a wife and a mother and someday maybe even a grandmother.
I often wonder what became of quilts #1 through #12. Though, I imagine they ended up as utillity quilts, and saw every day use on beds and in cribs and wherever a quilt was needed. Back then, quilts were not quite the decorative item that we see today, hung on walls and admired. They were USED. And loved and cherished. Handed down from mother to daughter.
I try hard to teach patiently. Afterall, I know what I’m doing, but my girls don’t always. And it can be frustrating for them, to see me finish up something or make something and it works, but then their attempt is awkward or incomplete. It’s a shame these days, that so many people think if you can’t master something in a few hours or days, that you should get all mad and upset, casting that project aside for the next victim. Stick-to-it-ness is a lost art, it seems these days. But, it’s not surprising in this age of instant gratification in so many things. We are not a patient people as a whole, these days.
Sewing takes time. And time mean talking and learning more about my young women. Anytime I can get a teenager to sit and discuss deep teenager things with me, I adore. This time is so fleeting. It will be gone in a heartbeat. In four or five years, I could be totally without children in my home. That seems so odd to me. I’m not looking forward to that at all.
So as we finish my daughter’s first quilts, I feel a certain sort of calm. At this rate, it will be awhile until they get to that lovely number #13 quilt, that cumulation of all their sewing talents and time with me and other mentoring women, sewing and plotting and planning their projects. A few friends I know locally, we’re talking about getting together a little sewing, quilting and canning club and teaching our daughters and daughter-in-laws how to create these lost arts. I just so love that idea… I know my daughters both were excited to learn about it and Maggie has asked me almost daily about it. Back in the old days, we had a homeschool sewing circle that met a few times. We still talk about that. I wish we had kept it going. But, life interfered.
Take the time to teach your young people things like sewing and quilting and cooking, canning and home-ec skills. Your boy children as well as your girls. And teach them how to garden and landscape, and build things with wood and tools. It’s so important. If you don’t know, learn with them.
When I think about things like survival buckets and keeping a good pantry in case of emergency, the thought crosses my mind.
Isn’t teaching our children and ourselves these lost arts just as important as a bucket of stuff to live off for a week? I mean, yes, that bucket will help you to survive the first few days of any sort of disaster, but in reality, if you are ill prepared in some good solid survival skills as well as home skills such as sewing and cooking and preserving foods, making and building structures and shelters and such, then that bucket is only prolonging your end. Fifty, sixty years ago, people still knew this stuff, these skills that have been with us for generations. But now? We’re loosing it. We’ve lost touch with how our food becomes food, how cloth is made, how buildings are built, even our cars and technology is so advanced, you just can’t fix it yourself anymore. We are sooooo dependent on other people to make our life work day to day. Kinda scary.
Time to slow down, reconnect with the lost arts and relearn again what it means to be proud of your handmade quilt or a birdhouse from scrap wood or that garden box of tomatoes. It’s important. And it’s fun!