Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Little Girls and Quilting

Yippee! I'm excited to let you  know that the second pattern for the American Schoolgirl Club - Martha Washington's Star Quilt -  has been mailed out to many of you! I actually stayed focused and, even though it's late, it's still technically July so I consider that pretty good considering everything I went through this month. I got sick on July 1 and went to the ER that day. What an absolutely exhausting month it was for me.  Hope this doesn't mean I'm getting old and I've lost my ability to bounce back like I used to. I'm still pretty tired.

So keep an eye on your mailboxes in the coming week (maybe "weeks" for those of you in Canada, Europe and Australia, unfortunately). This little quilt is a treasure and will be a lot of fun to make with your red and blue print scraps.

Thinking about and making doll quilts keeps me young, however, I think. If you follow my blog and books at all, most of you know by now that doll quilts were often used as practice for young girls' sewing skills in the past.

Needlework and sewing were an important part of a girl's education in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sometimes these skills were taught before reading and writing.

Doll quilts were learning pieces. It was the practicing of the sewing skills that was important, not so much the design of the quilt.

I like to think that, like early quilters, even young girls making small quilts for their dolls learned a little about color and the whole design process and it helped to give life to their creative expression in a small way.

(From the book Amish Doll Quilts by Rachel and Kenneth Pellman)

(From the book Amish Doll Quilts by Rachel and Kenneth Pellman)

(From the book Amish Doll Quilts by Rachel and Kenneth Pellman)

Some antique doll quilts were made by adults for children - out of love for the child for sure. And those can be exquisite and rare, as well as expensive. But the ones that I'm really drawn to are the ones made by children themselves - simple, unpretentious, with imperfect stitches, where you can see the frustration of trying to master the skill. Often crudely sewn. I bought this quilt fragment a little while ago because I loved that about the unevenly sewn nine-patches. Maybe it was a doll quilt in the making. More likely it was made by an adult learning to stitch by hand, but when I find the right borders I'll probably turn it into a doll quilt someday.

Here are the only 2 antique doll quilts I own and I love them for their simplicity (and the price was right too!)

A few years ago I had my daughter practice some straight stitching on the sewing machine - making little four-patch blocks from some of my reproduction fabric squares. She lost interest quickly--"that's your thing, mom" and we never did anything with them but I often think of turning them into a doll quilt to keep tucked away for her daughter someday.  

For now, I'll keep designing and making scrappy doll quilts for myself (and all of YOU too, of course). Maybe they'll be valuable to someone someday. And if not, that's ok. Like little girls' sewing samples, they were my own little learning projects over the years. It's fun to see how far I've come.
 (Schoolgirl Club quilt # 1- Eliza Jane's Nine Patch)
I love this quilt! 


Beth said...

I am very glad to hear that you are well enough to do some quilt related work. Hopefully your energy will return quickly too.

Dora, the Quilter said...

First, I'm glad you're feeling better.
Secondly, I think it would be a wonderful idea to make your daughter's blocks into a doll quilt for her daughter. Quiltmaking does sometimes skip generations. I remember desperately wanting to stitch little squares into little blocks when I was six or seven. Although my mother had me doing embroidery before the age of three, she didn't piece, didn't use a thimble, had no interest in any hand sewing except what was necessary for dressmaking.
My daughter has more interest in sewing equipment than in using them or making any product. I hope I can someday help a granddaughter sew!

Sandra Henderson said...

Oh what a bad blogging friend I am!~I'm SO sorry to hear that you were in the hospital! and am very thankful that you are up and about and sewing again. Oh dear.
Well, my daughter is 24 and now that she has a baby of her own,is interested in sewing! I didn't think she ever would be. I always made my living making slipcovers, upholstery, draperies,etc. So, it's not something that was 'special" to her, I suppose. Well, I purchased her a sewing machine about a year ago. She's getting it out now! and when she comes to visit this Sunday will bring a quilt that she is "stumped" on w/the quilting process, so that I can show her the walking foot better. (how to use it) Sometimes it's easier to be shown, and learn that way. Well, for us, this is best I think.
So, please continue to feel better!~and don't give up! Besides, you'll have a grandbaby one day to teach at the very worst! XO

Frances Leate said...

Glad to hear hear that you are recovering. Why don't you save those precious blocks and maybe one day you will have a granddaughter to teach sewing to - they say it often skips a generation. Enjoy your day.

Kathie said...

oh I love your Eliza Jane quilt, the colors are just so perfect.
glad to see your feeling a bit better and able to sew again, yeah!
how sweet would that be to make a little quilt with your daughters 4 patches. There is hope one day your DD will make quilts wait till she is a mom or when her friends are having babies and she wants to make them baby quilts!

Connie204 said...

I so glad that you are feeling better and able to get back to doing what you like. My mother was a terrific seamstress. She even made some of my fathers suits. Unfortunately, she was not a very patient teacher. I just wish I would have paid more attention. Now I tell everyone that I sew straight really well. LOL I did try to teach my granddaughter some cross stitch when she was little, but she was way to ansy and still is at 14. My son now has my old Kenmore sewing machine and he actually uses it for patching. Connie204

Lee Prairie Designs said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures of little girls sewing and the doll quilts. I think it would be a great idea to sew up those little blocks and make a quilt for your daughter. That might be an idea and story for your next book!!! Carolyn from Des Moines, Iowa

Karen said...

I think making your DD's blocks into a doll quilt is the perfect thing to do! Glad that you are feeling better, and just loved this post. Can't wait to begin my own schoolgirl projects- really, REALLY love Eliza Jane's Nine Patch.

quilting Jeannet said...

Kathy, thank you again very much for the wonderfull pattern! I saw you need the fabric for the outer border from the same fabric what I need for al doll dress last week....It was a nice surprise! Is it still better whit you now ?

Have a nice weekend en warm greetings, jeannet

Katell from France said...

Kathy, it is so reassuring to read from you again !
My two daughters don't quilt either "it's your hobby maman, not ours !"...
Doll quilts are a touching reminder of the past, you make us meditate on the girls learning to sew and quilt. I am longing for your new book, and I am so pleased to receive the second schoolgirl pattern soon !
Take care, Kathy


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