Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rag Quilts and Old Singer Sewing Machines

This summer has been a one of a kind summer.  The children are old enough to not require constant supervision and I actually have time to get things accomplished.

I decided to dig out the portable sewing machine that I purchased when my daughter was little.  It would be about 30 yrs old now.  Low mileage and still in good working order.

Now to the project.  Over the years, Ive dabbled with small things, a few summer dresses, etc.  But with an abundance of time this summer, I really wanted to tackle a quilt.  I really don't have the patience to crazy measure and be so precise so I opted for the very forgiving Rag Quilt as my first attempt at creating a functional blanket.

I had various yards of material, purchased throughout the years when I aspired to create something on the sewing machine.  I gathered all those together and then purchased a few more yards just to make sure I'd have enough.

A link though Pinterest (Thank you God for this site) sent me to what seemed like a simple enough Rag Quilt.
I loved the colors and the texture created with this method.  Whoa, 260 squares of material?  Whoa, 130 squares of batting?  I began cutting.

Now, I'm not blessed with an abundance of handy sewing tools but after my mom passed, I was fortunate enough to get her old pedal sewing machine.  In one of the drawers was a very stout pair of scissors.  So heavy were they that they could easily be a weapon.  These were my weapon, I mean scissors of choice.

I cut for days.  Measuring, cutting, stacking.  My hands hurt from cutting.  At this point, I decided, should I survive this ordeal, I would buy something to cut material that didn't leave me crippled for life.

Finally, the process advanced to actually using the sewing machine.  Oh what joy.  But wait, I can barely see the needle and threading it was taking a long long time.  My next trip to the store took me to the sewing section and there I secured a needle threader.  Problem solved.  I spent a good amount of time sewing an X across each layered square.

What fun this part was....who knew quilting could be so easy!  Before I knew it I had 130 puffy squares.

Next came creating strips of squares.  Oh my, too simple.  I was already envisioning in my head what this magnificent quilt would look like when finished.  Even my crippled by scissors hand was working steady and quick.  I found myself sewing til midnight, one o' clock, two o' clock in the morning.  This became my favorite time of day.  Working on the quilt while the world slept was nearly magical.  The strips multiplied.

 There they were, all the strips completed.  I laid them out on the bed to see which order I liked best.  Derby loved how soft they were and had to jump in the picture because he knew how photogenic he was and how he was only going to enhance the overall beauty of the quilt.  

The midnight sewing sessions continued.  I attached each strip and while the weight of the project grew and became more difficult to maneuver on the machine, I overcame the obstacles and managed to get them all joined.
There was a note to self about working on a quilt during the heat of summer.  Might be a Fall project from now on.

 Now I had spent little time agonizing over the order and patterns of my hodge podge of material squares.  I quickly abandoned that notion and reminded myself this was a quilt for me.  I didn't care that it wasn't perfect.  It mattered not that two blue squares might be touching.  I mean, seriously, its a quilt.  It's only purpose is to give warmth.  With those boundaries removed, I relaxed and just let the quilt have it's way.  I let it become what it was always meant to be.  I could have labored in the name of perfection, but to what end.  Its a quilt and as long as it does what it was meant to do, that being  to keep me warm this winter, I would be completely delighted.

And there she is.  My first quilt.  She has a border of my design using scrap pieces of material.  There is perfection in her imperfection.   She awaits the first cold night of the coming winter.  She will provide a cocoon around me to keep me warm on winter days.

My sewing journey did not end with my Rag Quilt.  I mentioned that I had my mom's old pedal sewing machine.  It is the machine I learned to sew upon.  I was sixteen years old that summer, the summer I learned how to thread a machine, load a bobbin, pedal with a steady rhythm and feel the magic of making something to wear or use.

After I finished the Rag Quilt, I decided to organize the drawers in that old Singer pedal machine.  I stumbled upon something quite special.  I opened a drawer, saw this and immediately knew it was old. 

Now Piggly Wiggly is hardly obsolete, but this little item was from a time long ago.  I opened the front to find this handly little case for storing sewing needles.  After some online research, I learned they were given out as customer gifts back in the 1950s.  

How cool was this....imagine a time when you walked into a store and they were so happy you were a customer they gave you something useful just for being there.  It reminded me of the time when you used to get a kitchen towel with your laundry detergent.  Thats when customers were special.  So were the corporations and stores that provided the goods.  Thats a time long past, isn't it?

I turned over this little gem and found this:

I remember S&H green stamps!  All those stamps, those books, all the licking of stamps, turning them in for something useful.  I loved that whole idea.  Again, an example of how much the customer was appreciated.
We need more of that in our world. 

Who knew the making of a quilt would yield so much.  I netted a great quilt made by my hands as well as time opening up drawers I used when I was a teenager some 40 yrs ago.  I can't imagine a better time or experience.

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