In 1938, at the age of 27, she had a two year old son and a one year old son. I know I would not want to start the ambitious project of learning how to quilt in this day and age with all the demands of two babies! But that is exactly what she did in the late 1930's! She had a lady teaching her, but before the quilt blocks could be put together, the lady moved; at least that's the story. She had put together 28 blocks, and then stopped. The blocks were tucked away in a dresser drawer and forgotten and that was the end of that. No more quilts were attempted. She went on to have 2 more children, both girls, one of which is my husband's mother. Years and years went by, a lifetime of living and loving, grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren. Family traditions, faith, and love grew with the family. Through good times and bad, her love for God and family was always there! Most of the grandchildren spent summers there, helping with the garden, going along on their grandfather's mail route, spending treasured time with loving grandparents who instilled the Christian faith and work ethic in them. Ah, the stories they all tell!
During the course of breaking up housekeeping, the quilt blocks made decades before were discovered. What a surprise! Her daughter, my husband's mother, asked me to finish the quilt that Lydia had started all those years ago. I would finish it for her and then when the time came, it would be passed down to my son. What an honor! By this time, though, Lydia could not remember how it was supposed to be put together, if it was meant to be one quilt or two. She did remember the year and the story of the quilt teacher. It was up to me to decide what to do.
So now, my story with this quilt begins. By Christmas 1998, I had half of it put together. I had worked quickly! I took it with me everywhere and worked on it and nothing else, both inside and outside the home.
However, even though I had made quilts before and had been sewing since I was a child, I still had a lot to learn about quilting. Mistakes were made. Bad decisions were made. Though I started it so eagerly, the quilt became a burden and a discouraging disappointment. It was put on the back burner of projects because it was just so overwhelming and I dreaded working on it. Finally, I realized that for me to finish this quilt, I was going to have to start completely over and do it right. My husband agreed and the immense task of undoing everything I had done began (I had about 1/4 of it hand quilted by then). I took the quilting stitches out. I unsewed all the pieces from each block, because some had maybe three threads for a seam allowance and some had half an inch! I took the bad fabric out; replaced the thin, frayed fabric with some new fabric and some vintage fabric from my mother's parents' clothes. I redesigned the layout so it wouldn't be so massive. Then I began putting all the pieces back together again. All hand piecing. I did not work on it exclusively and sad to say, months and months went by when I didn't even look at it. I would work on it a little bit, get discouraged, and once again put it aside. It was so overwhelming. I'm ashamed to say I didn't get it done before Lydia died. I just didn't and I'll always be disappointed in myself about that. When I realized that my husband's parents' 50th anniversary would be in 2012, I set my goal to get this quilt completed in time to give it to them at their celebration. A challenging deadline, but a necessary one.
By May of last year, 2011, I had several quilt blocks done. Then life changed. My mom was in serious decline, my husband decided to retire from the Army, we had to prepare for a move and we didn't know where we were going. We made the decision for me to stay with my parents and help them out. By the time we moved in August, my husband had a job and an apartment all lined up. I packed all the supplies I needed to work on the quilt at my parents' house and I'm so thankful I did. Day after day, for 3 weeks, I pieced blocks together sitting at my mom's side. She was so encouraging as usual. She thought the blocks were just beautiful. When I showed her the blocks that I made using her parents' clothing, she looked at me with awe. And then said she remembered those clothes!
I had a design all drawn out, similar to the first one which was from the book, Patchwork Gems.
In the meantime, my husband had found us a place to live. (On a side note, I issued him a challenge. I told him I could probably finish the quilt before he found us a place to live. I lost that challenge but got a wonderful home!) He came and got me and all my stuff from my dad's house and I arrived at our home in February. We didn't have our household goods yet, so I had time to work diligently on the sashing. Our household goods arrived in March and of course, unpacking had to be done. Once the bulk of that had been done, I got right back to working on the quilt. Time was getting close! Putting the quilt all together went quickly and then before I knew it was done!
Here I am with the backing taped to the hardwood floor, which, by the way, my husband refinished throughout the house before he moved me here...the floors are beautiful!
Next step is the batting and then the quilt top. I smoothed it all out and then just when I thought it was done, I noticed a HUGE mistake! I could not believe it! How did I do this?! How did I MISS this?!