Sunday, November 06, 2022

the wrong stitches?

a fascinating aspect of the experience of sharing my great grandmother's quilts in an exhibition at my beloved little museum is the conversations with those who stop by. many of those conversations are magical, as i point out details on the quilts - like the light circle in the middle of this photo that has a dark circle of fabric on it, where my great grandmother sewed together a small piece of fabric to make up the circle - ensuring that nothing went to waste. or the fact that many of these fabrics were actually flour sacks that came in colorful calicos. here in denmark, people are a little incredulous at that, as apparently they only came in white or natural fabric here. 

a number of people i talked to, including the other person whose quilts are part of the exhibition, have expressed some surprising things. multiple people have said that we are showing the wrong side of the yoyo quilt above. we are most definitely not, as i know which side my grandmother considered the top side - and it's as it is above. the way that people tell me this is quite condescending, as if i'm a small, dull child who doesn't know back from front. and yet, this is the beautiful side of the yoyo quilt. 

the other surprising thing is how judgy people can be. there are four of these unfinished quilt tops that are perfect little 2x2-ish squares. they are completely hand sewn and they are the ones my mother remembers helping sew. her grandmother had had a stroke and couldn't get around, so she sat in her bed with piles of squares around her and sewed them together. and now, 80 years later, some danish ladies who otherwise know their handicrafts, inform me that she sewed them together wrong. they look utterly perfect to me, but her method was apparently a different one than the one they know, and so they characterize it as wrong, rather than being interested in a different technique. and it rather amazes me how much they seem to want to tell me this.

and it has me thinking about the slow stitch movement i followed back in the old bloggy days. they were that way too - very judgemental and condemning of those who did things differently than them. i wonder where the need to do that arises? why not just be fascinated by the way my great grandmother did it? why the need to judge it and deem it incorrect? why can't we embrace the amazing world of handiwork and appreciate the stories that we stitch into the cloth? why not be in awe of a woman who had had a stroke, but who could sit in her bed and stitch together small squares into perfect patterns. i know i couldn't do it. i love making quilts, but i need to lay them out and look at them and move the squares around and walk away and come back and move them around some more before sewing them together with my sewing machine. i am in awe of what she could do. and while i am interested in how she sewed it together, i don't think it could possibly be the wrong. after all these quilts and quilt tops are all still here after nearly 100 years, so she must have done something right.



Elizabeth said...

What a lovely story you wrote about your great grandmothers quilts. Loved reading it because the quilts are gorgeous and precious. It doesn't matter whether or not the quilts are made according to the rules of someone else. They are made with a lot of love for life and that's the only thing that counts in my book. Take good care of them because they are invaluable!

Pixie said...

The quilts are beautiful and the fact that they have survived this long means they are well sewn. As you say different does not mean wrong, just different. I have a daughter who is different, not wrong, just different.

I work in cancer care and had a patient who quilted. She got me interested in quilting and I decided to make quilts for grandchildren and children, something which I'm slowly working on. Those quilts will last far longer than I will. When my patient/friend died, people brought her quilts to the church, she had made over three hundred quilts in her lifetime and given them away. It was a beautiful display of the love she had shared over the years.