My Grandma Ella lived in an apartment near us when I was young, and moved into our home when I was nine. For most of her adult life, she did her housework, chores and errands in the morning, and spent her time in the afternoons working on needlework. She taught me how scraps could be transformed into beautiful quilts. Grandma Ella was born in 1892 and shared her memories and stories as we worked together on sorting fabric scraps. She taught me how to make a template from a cereal box, and how to carefully cut my pieces with a good fabric scissors (she also taught me to respect the fabric scissors!). She tried to teach me hand sewing the pieces together and hand quilting, but I wasn’t very good at those parts. My favorite part was playing with the colors and shapes. I also loved the quiet companionship of our time together with fabric. As I got older, my mom let me use her 1951 Singer Featherweight and learn machine sewing, which I thought was more fun than slow hand sewing. When I was about 10 or 11, a family friend gave me her White sewing machine and cabinet so she didn’t have to move it across the country. From then on, I experimented with fabric. I created my own clothing and patterns, many of which were awful. But Grandma Ella always encouraged me to experiment and to improve my skills with each project. I also played with quilts. When I was about 14, dollhouses and miniatures were very popular and I pieced and machine quilted miniature quilts to scale for dollhouses. The local hobby store that sold dollhouse furniture bought the quilts I made and I was thrilled! It was the first “job” I had. I didn’t make a lot of money, but I loved being able to make something valuable from scraps we would have otherwise thrown away.
Bottom Line: No matter your skill level, you can always learn, grow and improve – and someone may want to buy your work!