Monday, May 6, 2013


Sometimes I worry about my sanity. No, seriously, I do!! As I get older I find it more difficult to concentrate on one specific thing. My brain cells have either decided it's time to take a well deserved vacation, or they are dying off one by one.

Here's a case in point...

I sew as easily as most people breathe. At the tender age of twelve my mom taught me to sew an A-Line skirt. I remember my excitement at the fabric store. Madras plaid was all the fashion back then... patchwork madras to be exact! I loved the colors, the style, the feel of the cotton... So that was my first fabric choice.

When we got home, my mom took the pattern out of the paper envelope, explained the grain line markings on the pattern... and the grain lines of the fabric... then left me alone! Completely alone... to learn by myself!! This skirt had a lining, a zipper, and a waistband... and I had never sewn before! ACK!!! Whenever I would go to her and ask a question I was told... "Read the pattern. What does it tell you to do?"

I should also mention... my mom used to teach beginning sewing for The Singer Company. Silly me to have thought I had an inside scoop. Mom was of the belief that any ninny who could read, could also learn to sew... without her help. So... with scissors in hand, and a sewing machine at the ready... I taught myself to sew by reading the McCall's pattern.

I hit a snag when I had to line the skirt. We didn't purchase any fabric for that. So... cautiously I interrupted my mom's reading and asked about that little problem. Without saying a word, she got up from her chair and walked down the hall to the linen closet where she pulled out an old white bed sheet and said, "Here, use this", as she held it out towards me.

In the end... Mom helped with the zipper when she saw me struggle. Now, as an adult I realize she wasn't really reading at all, but keeping a watchful eye on my progress... and teaching me I could do anything I wanted in life if I put my mind to it. Ah... sewing as a life lesson... who knew???

Nothing stopped me after that. I sewed all my own clothes. Dresses, shirts, vests, culottes (remember those?), slacks and more. I would use the money from my baby sitting jobs to purchase my fabric. That old black Singer just kept humming. When I earned my first REAL paycheck from my first ever REAL job at the age of 16, I purchased my very own Singer!!! It zig-zagged... and did button holes!!!

Forty Six years later and I am still going strong. I no longer sew clothes... except an occasional semi-formal dress for my daughter, sticking mostly to quilts and curtains.

Any way... the point being... I can sew... and I do it without even thinking. So imagine my panic a few weeks ago when I sat down at the machine and KNEW I had to put the presser foot down, but didn't know HOW????

My mind was BLANK!!! I knew it had to go down in order to form a stitch. I knew there was a lever to make that happen. But I didn't know where the stupid lever WAS. I perched my glasses up on my head, scrunched down as close to the presser foot as I could, and stared intently at the mechanism. The lever had to be here somewhere... right??? I looked and looked, but couldn't find it.

"This is ridiculous", I said to no one.

With that... I stood up and arched my aching back. Walked to the kitchen and got a sip of water. Shook my head a few times and sighed. Went back to the sewing machine, sat down, and automatically my right hand flipped the lever and the presser foot went down. Ta-Dah!!! Obviously I was thinking 'too hard' before.

Yesterday one of my daughters was getting on my case for repeating stories I apparently have already related. SIGH! My mind has gone to mush. This little family scene reminded me of an essay I read on Facebook... something about a letter from an older mother to her daughter. I soooooo wanted to repeat it my daughter, but didn't know how it began. Through the super powers of Google, I was able to track it down. So... just in time for Mother's Day I give you...

The Found Essay: Letter from a Mother to a Daughter*

“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago.” Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep. When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl? When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way. Remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair, and dealing with life’s issues every day. The day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient, or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you. And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked. When those days come, don’t feel sad—just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you, my darling daughter.”
Although I am not as old as the mother in this essay... yet... it was still worth sharing with my daughter now.  I hope I am still on this Earth to have to remind her again when it's time.
I am thankful I had read this before my mom passed away earlier this year. It reminded me I need to slow down and be more patient with her... that getting old is rough for everyone... and that a little understanding goes a very long way.

So... I'm getting old, and forgetful. Oh well... it's better than the alternative! To quote Mark Twain...
"Do not complain about getting old. It is a privilege denied to many."

I'm not complaining!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you lucky women with kids!!! I have yet to find a more happy, loving, and satisfying position in life than being a MOM!!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Donation Quilts

Another donation quilt has left the building. Of all the quilts I have sewn in my life… I think this one is my favorite by far. It was difficult to give away, but I know the family who receives it will also love it. Besides, I can always sew another one.

Someone asked me the other day, “Why are you donating these quilts? What do you get out of it?”

I’ll tell you… One morning after Hurricane Sandy hit my neighbors at the Jersey Shore, a light bulb went on over my head. For YEARS I have been collecting (OK, hoarding is more like it) quilting fabric. Every time I went into a store I walked out with a yard (or two, or more) of sumptuous cotton in every color of the rainbow. This particular morning, as I was thinking about all those families that have lost EVERYTHING… I thought of my fabric stash.

With the light bulb at first flickering… then building into a bright, blinding light… I realized that THIS is what I have been waiting for. This exact moment!!! I would use my stash of beloved fabrics to sew quilts for these families. I would wrap them up in warmth while giving them a new possession to begin gathering their life back into somewhat of order.

AAAAHHHHHH! I heard Angels sings… REALLY… I did!!!

I design, measure, cut, piece, sew, quilt and bind each blanket myself. Using only top quality fabrics and batting… and thread all the way from Italy!! I think of the families while I sew. I don’t know them personally, but I imagine their surprise when receiving them.

All of these quilts are given anonymously. I try to drop them off when no one will see me, or mail them from some obscure place. Why?? The answer is simple… I don’t want any thanks, or awkward moments. I sew, I give… it’s a simple system.

As a member of The Quilt Alliance I have to admit, not sewing a label on the quilt makes me cringe a little. The Quilt Alliance is a non-profit organization, which promotes the history of quilts and their makers. They are indexing and interviewing quilt makers for posterity. Sorry Quilt Alliance… the history of these quilts will remain a mystery.

To answer the question, “What do I get out of it?”…  That’s easy…  I get a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart the size of Texas. I am thrilled beyond belief to be able to do this and bring joy to families who have endured so much hardship. If you have ever slept under a quilt, or snuggled in one when you were not feeling well... then you know that the quilt is not really what I'm giving these families. I'm actually giving them a hug and the peace of mind that 'everything will work out just fine'. Comfort... in my own little way I am giving them comfort. Well... at least that is what I HOPE I'm doing!!!

I would also like to take a moment to thank the many people who have donated 'for the cause'. Individuals have donated fabric, quilts shops have given me discounts, and 50% off coupons have kept the cost of batting at a reasonable level. Without the help of others (who wish to remain anonymous also) I couldn't do what I do. So... THANK  YOU from the bottom of my heart!!

If YOU know a family that would benefit from one of these quilts... please drop me a line. I have fabric by the yards just waiting to be sewn!!! 

As I mentioned… I do this anonymously. I don’t mind you all knowing I do this and who I am… but let’s not spoil the intrigue for the families… OK? If you hear of someone you know getting one of these quilts, I hope you will not give me away :-) Thanks for understanding.