Quilting the Quilt: Family Ties
Every life tells a story. Some chapters are dull, some are exciting; some are heartwrenching and others are blissful. Quilters often illustrate the chapters in their life stories with quilts—baby quilts, wedding quilts, birthday quilts, comfort quilts. When Georgene Rogers won an APQS Millie in the APQS Longarm Giveaway last spring, my heart was touched by her story! I could see many similarities between some of her life chapters and mine-and I think you will, too. If you’ve ever wondered whether a longarm machine would make a difference in your life, find out how it changed Georgene’s:
As a little girl growing up in rural Wyoming, the summers were long but adventurous. My older sister joined 4-H and began sewing her own clothes on an old Singer sewing machine. I was in awe of her creativity. My grandmother sewed, my mom sewed, my aunt sewed, and my sister sewed—so when was my turn? To satisfy me until I was old enough, my mom (who doubled as a 4-H leader for seven years) had me stitch on paper, following printed lines.
My first quilt encounter was seeing one my aunt made for my oldest niece. This small child’s quilt became her security blanket through her childhood and beyond. This truly inspired me—I wanted to be the one to make keepsakes for my loved ones! I am fairly certain that was the moment that I decided I was not a seamstress—but rather a treasure builder. I followed my great aunt’s tradition and made a quilt for my firstborn great niece, Sienna, with the hope it would be her
security blanket as she grows, just like her mom’s.
But as I raised my young family of three rambunctious kids, quilting went on the back burner. The years flew by; suddenly I was faced with a huge pile of T-shirts waiting to become graduation quilts for them. I cut them apart, zigzagged the edges, and straight-stitched them together.
I tried to sew a backing, added batting and shoved it all through the throat of a small Singer. Not nearly the smooth sound of mom’s Bernina—but I was able to finish. They were huge, but they were made with love! I look back now and laugh at my first efforts.
This began a roller coaster of creativity. Slowly I began doing T-shirt quilts for a few friends, then more friends, then I refined my process to make it easier, then more quilts. The throat space on my machine did not grow with my creative enthusiasm. I took on a king-sized quilt that broke the camel’s back. I just couldn’t get it tackled! I battled and battled and shoved it through my machine. I was able to finish it, but it was by no means 4-H-judging quality.
I was frustrated, so I backed off taking on more quilts and decided to just do quilt tops and leave the rest to ‘real quilters’ to finish. Then I discovered the APQS Longarm Giveaway. I entered every day for months! It was just part of my morning routine. Then the call came. Well, the calls came and went because I wouldn’t answer a call from a toll-free number! Little did I know, APQS was trying to reach me. My sister finally called me and said “answer your phone when a call comes in from Iowa.” So answer I did—I had won a top-of-the-line APQS Millie quilting machine! My destiny changed forever. My heart still races just thinking about that great day. Whoop, whoop!
I soon received my Millie, affectionately named her “Stella,” and I knew I had found my answer. I could pick up quilting where I had reluctantly left off! However, my dear mother’s health began to fade; her eyes weren’t as bright and she wasn’t as strong. I knew I needed to
spend my free time with her and put Stella on the back burner for a bit.
One Saturday night, all of my family was at Mom’s side. My sister and I had been at a church rummage sale that day and much to my delight, there was a patchwork quilt skirt. This was not your normal patchwork—made in the 1970s of hot and heavy polyester material, it fit me like a dream! When Mom was awake later that evening, I put on this glorious skirt to model for her. She just put her hand to her forehead and shook her head. We all laughed—it is a beautiful, precious memory! Mom passed October 10, 2018.
I was a total soup sandwich. I knew I had to find peace. And that came when my 12-year-old granddaughter, Emilee, asked me to make her a quilt for Christmas. I headed to the sewing room and began my quest to find the perfect pattern. When I asked Emilee what she wanted, she said, “Grandma George, just go crazy!” I laughed, wondering if this child knew who she’d given permission to!
After hours of digging through my fabric, I came up with a pattern. Then the sewing began, piece by piece. In the midst of this, my sewing machine came to a grinding halt. I was fairly certain it was a busted belt; the local repair shop could not work on it for three months! I wasn’t about to disappoint Emilee—I had to do something.
I glanced in the corner of the room and my eyes landed on my mom’s sewing machine.
I knew it was a sign—Mom wanted to help guide me, oversee and encourage me to complete the wish of her first greatgranddaughter for Christmas! Through the tears, I felt her encouraging me to finish something that Emilee will treasure from both Grandma George and Great Grandma Tiptoes. And without my APQS longarm—Stella—I would never have been able to accomplish that. I am eternally grateful for this gift. I fell in love again with quilting! I probably won’t get my machine fixed—using Mom’s just brings me peace, and makes everything I make feel like it’s touched with her love as well as mine!