Margaret B.

My Christmas Dress

When I was little, I got to wear a few dresses that my mother wore as a girl. There were a couple of Liberty of London print dresses with smocking across the bodice, a girls folk costume from Sweden with hat, and my favorite a chocolate brown velvet dress, smocked with gold colored thread and a simple batiste collar.

It was a special dress to wear for special occasions like to my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve. The house was decorated, votive candles in the windows, and lots of cousins and family from out of town. Everybody was dressed up for the occasion. I loved the feel of the velvet, so soft and light, and it was warm, her house was a little drafty. I thought it was beautiful and felt very special wearing it.I was very upset when it was too short and I could no longer stuff myself into that yummy chocolate dress. When I was in High School I tried making a velvet jumper with a vogue pattern, big buttons at the shoulders and a flared skirt. I loved the material as before but It didn’t have the charm or history as the smocked velvet dress. Maybe I should make a new dress of chocolate velvet and gold threads!

Deborah S.

A jumpsuit in denim blue, with a silver lamé lightning bolt across the chest, outlined in red.

In France on Bastille Day, there is a celebration in the streets.  The smell of smoke from the fireworks drifts through the air.  A crowd of strangers presses up against me and my father.  I hear the strains of an American disco tune and begin to dance.  A space opens up around me.  People are watching me dance.  Through the darkness, they throw coins at the little dancing girl.  The lightning bolt becomes a good luck charm, a sign that I am talented and worthy of notice.

In America, it is school picture day.  My hair is in two ponytails.  My eyes stare through thick glasses, the dark frames heavy against my fair skin.  I stare at the camera, serious and unsmiling.  But the lightning-bolt on my jumpsuit gives me some courage; I’ve brought my dancing circle and the approving crowd with me.

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I don’t have a lot of detailed early memories from my childhood.  While I do remember the experience of dancing in the streets of France, I don’t actually remember the school picture day in which I wore the same jumpsuit.  I can’t even find the photo at this point.  I’m just relying on my memory of the photo and using some poetic license here.

But I think this is a relevant memory for me because I consider what I wear to an extension of my creative self.  I like to dress in colorful, sparkly, and unique garments and accessories.  One of the reasons that I sew is to make myself unique garments.  But alas, I have not had time for much sewing in recent years, and my outfits have become more mundane and prosaic (though I still have gorgeous jewelry and scarves to dress them up).  I once read an exercise that asked us to consider what our muse wants of us, and my immediate response was that my muse wants me to be better dressed!  This exercise reminded me that our outfits reflects more than just practical coverings – they are imbued with emotional and symbolic significance.

Linda K.

The No-Security Blanket

She opened her eyes, but the bright sun made her shut them again. She would have gone back to sleep except that she noticed two things were very wrong. Her cuddly protector, a whisper-soft blue blanket, wasn’t in her hands. Also, it was especially quiet in the house.

She turned her head away from the window, sat up quickly, and climbed out of the crib that her mother made her sleep in even though she was much too old for a crib. Voices came from the kitchen, so she followed the trail.

The next thing wrong she noticed was her beagle puppy (whom she named Sniffer because he sniffed the grass when he got out of the car the day he was first brought home to her, and she couldn’t think of anything more creative) wasn’t in his kennel in the kitchen. Her mother was talking to, or more like at, her father, but she interrupted and said, “Where’s Sniffer?”

"He’s not here,” replied her mother. “We had to give him away last night because the neighbors complained about his barking and the police came.”

“You gave him away!? We could have trained him. He’s only been here two days!”

“Well, he’s gone now. There’s nothing I can do.”

She asked her mother where her blanket was, and her mother said, “I gave it to the dog to make him more comfortable. I thought it might make him stop barking. But it didn’t help.”

“So where is it now? Did it go with him to his new home?”

“Oh, no. He threw up on it, so I had to throw it away.”

That wasn’t the first bad memory that would forever remain stuck to a piece of fabric like chewing gum. The first was two years before at a public swimming club. Her hair was cut in the pixie style so popular in those days, as she sat on the edge of the kids pool in a one-piece, royal blue, sateen bathing suit. Unfortunately, the “one piece” was a boy’s bathing trunk. Also popular in those days was letting little girls run around naked from the waist up. It wasn’t that she preferred the suit or going semi-naked. It was what her mother preferred, like the haircut.

A little girl to her left, who was wearing a flowered ruffled girl’s bathing suit, asked, “Are you a girl or are you a boy?”

Hurt. Hot. Damp. Cold. Embarrassed. Ashamed. She should have run away. But all she did was sit still and say, quietly, “I’m a girl.”

 
Why Can’t They Hear Me? A collage created by Linda Kenny about six years ago.

Why Can’t They Hear Me? A collage created by Linda Kenny about six years ago.

 

Susan L.

Close my eyes,

Think back in time, 

Try to find the cloth.

 

Play through the scenes

Of childhood dreams

To recall memories lost.

It's hard to settle my thoughts into one piece of cloth from my childhood. In fact, it's hard to determine how far back solid memories of this type really go. Yet, it was amazing to me, to discover that when called upon, our memories so deeply buried can be raised. I soon found various experiences and moments surfacing.

My strongest and most profound memory of the past revolves around cotton flannel, as in bed linens and little girl nighties. It was only when I called upon my senses, that flannel stepped forward. Mostly, I remember how the cloth felt, particularly the first time I slid into or under it, before items were laundered. There was nothing better. I do remember the feel of flannel sheets, when the weather turned cold, and the wonderful first wearing of new flannel pajamas.  Even to this day, as winter arrives, I break out the flannel sheets, and still comment out loud to whoever will listen, how much I love sleeping under flannels.... even in San Diego, which most people think is rather ludicrous.  

One of the obvious senses is the visual of cotton flannel; that soft fuzzy surface. I recall petting and caressing the sheets as I would a kitten, as I put myself to sleep. The raised surface retains my body heat and simply wraps round me.

Did you know flannel has a smell? Although I can't describe it in words, I know I would recognize it in a flash if I came across the scent. In fact, didn't someone bottle that into a perfume?  I remember a second scent; that of fresh air on the sheets, and what I mean by that is the smell one encounters from hanging the washing out of doors to dry.  Ironically, this transformed the touch of the sheets to scratchy, as they dried stiff. A little movement in bed soon brought my lovelies back to the soft nest I remember well.

When I married, my mother offered to give me a few things from her linen closet, and the one item I specifically asked for was one of the flannel sheets. I still have it today (as you can see in my photo composite), and I use it with every guest who sleeps on the futon in my studio.  I think unknowingly, I've used my old flannel sheet as a form of welcome, even if it is a padding layer beneath the sateen sheet laid over it.  

I think the memories that cotton flannels conjure up for me tie into much greater things of my youth and life; security, well-being, comfort, and warmth. The associations are strong. So, I am thankful for this exercise prompt, as it brought back a fondness of my childhood, and reminded me of all the associations one simple item can carry; now and through time.

Joyce G.

My 'Little Swedish Grandmother' was a rare jewel that I wanted to hold onto and keep for life. No one in my neighborhood or school had a grandmother who was born before 1900 in a small town in rural Sweden, spoke fluent Swedish, Norwegian and English; stood at her kitchen range for hours turning out delicious Swedish pancakes as we kept encouraging her to feed our hungry young bellies; kept 'Swedish Fish' candy in a small paper bag in her 'pocketbook' and doled them out as we rode the public bus into town. 

When I was around five-years old, I remember my Grandmother responding to my inquiry about the lovely formal sepia toned photo of her in her wedding gown with veil and jeweled shoes. She happily responded and opened her clothes closet to retrieve on the upper shelf two boxes hidden in the back. Upon opening one box out came her wedding veil made of wax flowers and pearls with a sheer silk veil attached to the crown. The contents of the second box wrapped in tissue was a long braid of Grandmas 'strawberry blonde' hair that went out of fashion in the 20's and her cream colored silk satin jewel encrusted beautifully handmade wedding shoes. Oh how I loved these precious items. Every visit to Grandmas I would ask to see her veil, shoes and braid of hair. As I left childhood and became a young teen I asked my Grandmother if I could please, someday, have her veil, shoes and braid. I would tell her they would be placed under a glass dome and preserved forever as a remembrance of my 'Little Swedish Grandmother' so I could have her with me forever and ever! She would sadly never respond. One day while she visited our home, she left a brown paper grocery bag on the patio and as she left, told me to look inside as there were a pair of her shoes in there. Of course I excitedly open the bag but to great disappointment, as inside were a badly beaten up pair of black leather 'old lady' style heels.  I don't remember asking about the veil, shoes or braid again.

Years later when my Grandmother passed away, her daughter kept my Grandmothers home and sequestered herself away from phone calls, visits and any family ties. My aunt was a severe alcoholic and had no income, so my father and I paid the utilities and taxes on Grandmas home so she had a place to live. 

Years later when my Father stopped by (as he did often) to deliver groceries he was alarmed by her physical condition and convinced her to ride with him to the hospital. 

He was given the key to Grandmas home. It took weeks of negotiations with my Father to allow me to enter the home. My older brother came with me and inquired about what I was looking for in the home. The coveted wedding veil, shoes, and braid of hair. 

Upon opening the door I had my first glimpse of how a hoarder lived. The overwhelming scent of old garbage and urine; narrow passage trails between three foot high packed junk in every room, there was no resemblance to the interior of my Grandmothers home that we recalled. We made our way to Grandmas bedroom, opened the door, and found the room completely empty. Nothing in the closet. No trace of Grandma anywhere. 

My brother urged me to leave, but, I told him we needed to go up the stairs to look under the twin bed we used to sleep in for overnight visits. "Why" he asked, "because", I responded, "I have a gut feeling that is where we will find boxes of family photos including the sepia toned photo of Grandma in her wedding dress". My brother thought me mad because the family photos were always in the dining room built-in cabinets which we found empty. We climbed up the stairs among more debris, made our way into the room which was also packed high with debris, picked up the bed and there were the boxes of family photos. The sheer knowledge of me knowing the location amongst the hoarders mess the location of the photos frightened my brother and so with boxes of photos and handwritten letters we left.

I guessed Grandmas precious remembrance items were stolen from the home when locals broke in during the weeks it took my Father to finally allow me into the home. More than cut glass door knobs, vintage linens, vintage glass front cabinet doors were stolen by thieves. The entire contents of Grandmas hope chest that included her stitched Swedish handwork and a coveted Norwegian Solje passed down from my Norwegian Grandfathers mother to her. All lost. All gone. Not a trace. 

Years later to celebrate my 60th birthday my husband and I went to Sweden. Iwas ecstatic that at the age of 60, I finally was going to my Grandmothers birth country and I brought with me a photo that I found in the box under the upstairs bed of the church in her birth town, Billingsfor, Dalsland, Sweden. Upon our journey to Billingsfor, I noticed the road sign 'Billingsfor' on the side of the forested road, and called out to my husband who was driving our rental car to "stop! I want my photo taken next to the Billingsfor city road sign!" 

Upon opening the car door and placing my feet on the ground of my Grandmothers birthplace, I immediately knew the answer to my quest and the mystery of what happened to my Swedish Grandmothers wedding veil, shoes and braid of hair. 

They were placed with her in the coffin by my aunt.

My experiences in life, are what motivate me to design and plan my quilts. As a healing piece I have for years planned and have pieces and parts, drawings, thread, instructionalembroidery books, collections of silk cloth and beads to make a piece that I have named 'Lost Heirlooms'. 

Janel T.

I remember lying on Grandma Troidl's velvet sofa and running my hand back and forth--smooth nap, rough nap, smooth nap, rough nap--seeing the red change from deep burgundy to soft rose and back again to burgundy. Grandma Troidl's downstairs flat was long and narrow, the front room barely lit with the flicker of a bulbous television screen. Light from the dining room slanted onto the sofa where I lay. A crocheted cover on the back of the sofa impressed its stitched patterns on my cheek as I leaned against it, stroking the velvet.

Grandma Dollard lived in the flat upstairs from Grandma Troidl. Tall windows towered above the single-story bungalows on either side, opening her parlor and living room to southern sun and softened street sounds. Her jade-colored velvet settees and wing chairs were covered with spans of crocheted handwork; crocheted doilies spilled over the sides of coffee tables, ran to the very edges of end tables and hid the surfaces of a lowboy and a delicate drop leaf desk. Thick oriental rugs muffled our rambunctious clomping and lent the rooms quiet dignity.

I found a long crocheted sofa cover in the stash of memorabilia my mother gave me after Grandma died. I run my fingers over it now--a combination of chains and knots and slip stitches that my grandmother's hands stitched into a memory and a homecoming for me. She would be pleased.

The warmth, safety and light of the upstairs parlor contrasts with what I now know of the downstairs living room and my synapses start firing--chain stitch, chained up, chain reaction, chain link, links to a past and a path to understanding the commonality of our stories and the strength of the links that bind us together.

So I "waste" time drawing one of the many circles that my grandmother "wasted" time crocheting and linking to other crocheted circles to create the piece that covered the velvet that drew me in to my grandmothers' worlds--dark and light, smooth and rough, linked by the labor of my grandmothers' hands.

Lynda C.

I had a hard time trying to remember a cloth but I do remember a blue cotton fabric that I made for home ec with much help from my aunt.  My mother was not a sewer.  I remember the colour of the blue, like a clear sunny day but I don't remember the dress, just that it had a skirt and the colour of it.

After that memory I remembered  a wool skirt that was wrap around, red plaid with grey on the back.  It had a braid around the edge which was grey.  I remember wearing it to school over pants - a real luxury as we were not allowed to wear pants to school - guess I am showing my age!

After much working on memory and writing I also remember a taffeta dress with black bottom and brocade on the top.  i remember the feeling of the brocade but not the colour - odd I think.  I bought a dress for my 3 year old granddaughter that had a taffeta skirt and brocaded top this year.  It just seemed like the right thing to do (and she loves it) but now I wonder if the forgotten dress memory had anything to do with it!

I have had a hard time writing but each day it is becoming easier.

Judy C.

Lamb-Y

I held my nose close to the sweet musty smell of my soft cuddly lamb-y.  I loved this little squeezable cuddly animal the most and almost would go nowhere without her.  She was bumpy and lumpy on the outside and the inside had fullness and fluff upableness in some places and not in others. I could rub her against my face while I closed my eyes to the world.  I snuggled her into my chin and next to my nose so I could smell and feel her all at the same time.  She was mine and part of me and I loved lamb-y dearly.  I still do when I think of her softness and tender love.  I could hide her with me in bed to scare away the monsters that lurked under my bed.  I could tuck her into the pillow with me so I could smell the richness of her and me together.  Other people thought she was dirty but I never did.  She needed to have that beautiful smell, the richness of humanness around her whole form.  I loved the snug-ability of her and she never expected anything of me.  I could set her on my bed whenever I left the room and I would always surround her with love from all of her friends, all of the other stuffed animals. I had to keep her safe and let her know how special she was to me. She was truly my favorite. I called her love-y.

I wonder what ever happened to love-y.

Helen B.

My first memory of cloth was when I was 5 or 6 years old and I received a crochet dress in the mail from my aunt.  We lived on a farm in quite an isolated area and so the parcel had to be collected from a neighbour’s roadside mailbox.  The dress was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, it was a coral pink and had a gold chain belt to match.

It felt so special because someone had made something just for me.  I felt a million dollars when I wore it and although I came from a small country town it was the latest Melbourne fashion.

The same aunt also made a red & white gingham dress for me with red love heart pockets, it was just a simple dress but it was beautiful.  I can still remember walking to the shops in Clayton (Melbourne suburb) wearing it.  To this day I still look at red & white gingham and the memory comes back. Very special.

Ginny L.

Cloth memories- Oh my! What a revelation.

There was a photo of me on my first birthday sitting on the lawn on a cheery yellow blanket festooned with frolicking lambs.

Am sitting more or less upright with my left hand clutching the grass and my right hand flat on the blanket, as if to smooth it.

When my husband saw the photo, he commented “I wonder why you look so quizzical?”.

Fast forward to yesterday when I realized that photo captured a significant moment as I had just learned about textures.

Simply stunning to realize how and when it happened.

Without this exercise I would never put it all together. A huge THANK YOU, Jane. 

Rayne V.

This is my second attempt at this assignment.  My first writing about a piece of fabric sounds distant and detached so I am going to write a vivid memory about a favorite color combination.

My grade school class was making a flower magnet for Mother’s Day.  There was a styrofoam half sphere covered with gold glitter on the dome and a magnet on the back.  There were green pipe cleaners that we bent and shaped into a leaf and stem on the bottom.  Then we had our choice of more pipe cleaners in two colors to shape into flower petals.  We had to bend the pipe cleaners in half and stick the ends in the styrofoam gold center.

I didn’t tell my mom what I was making when I asked her what her favorite colors were.  When it was my turn to pick flower petals I chose dark green and dark pink pipe cleaners.  I alternated pink and green flower petals around the gold half sphere.  When I stepped back and saw all the flowers my classmates made I had a moment of panic because mine looked different and thought maybe I did something wrong.  No one else used the green leaf and stem color in the flower petals.  All the flowers had pretty pastel pink and blue petals like spring flowers.  I looked back at my flower without looking at all the others.  I saw the beauty of it and became calm.  I saw the green pink and gold and knew it was the perfect flower for me.  That color combination still makes my heart smile. It doesn’t matter if I see a heart chakra mandala or a cactus flower blooming on the gold sand.

The picture is a small plastic flower that came off my daughter's cupcake from the bakery. I asked her if I could put it on the fridge since it looked like something I made for my mom a long time ago.

Amber M.

 
 

I have so many memories surrounding textiles (is it an accident "textile" and "texture" start the same way?) The pink-rose blanket...the felt-dot picture on the box springs I'd pick at when I was bored or couldn't sleep...turning washcloths into dolphins and mermaids in the tub...that wonderful '20s-looking dress I wore to the petting zoo and a goat chewed up the skirt...chenille bumps on the bedspread...Grandma's quilts...

Mom sewed all our clothes. It wasn't a huge big deal back then, when all the girls learned Home Economics and the boys learned how to build cars. It does mean that some of my earliest memories involve the racks at House of Fabrics. I'd close my eyes, stretch out my arms and sweep down the rows of bolts of cloth, feeler-finger senses activated. When something wonderful touched me, I'd open my eyes to see: Yes? No? Ooh, wrong color. Close eyes and keep feeling. When I found the one perfect enough to love, I could stare at it and run my hands over it, and marvel over it. Not that I'd be allowed to *have* anything my fingers and eyes adored, of course, because I wasn't doing the sewing (or the buying). Besides, I was, like, 3.

Sometimes Mom would find a great bargain and buy the whole bolt. Mom and my sister and I got the same dress in the same fabric. We were triplets!! Nesting dolls! So Cute! Thank heaven I didn't have any brothers: they'd grow up with even worse identity issues than I have.

But the fabric store was like ... uh ... well, okay not Disneyland, because NOTHING is like Disneyland (not even other Disneylands)....maybe more like the old Knott's Berry Farm, before they put in any rides. A fun place to wander and fantasize and wonder while staring at things with no apparent purpose (I'm lookin' at you, Notions Wall).

And like the rides at Disneyland, I took it for granted they'd always be there. Some fabric chain had a presence in every shopping center; even the Singer store held a few token bolts; craft stores all over; warehouse-style monstrosities downtown; whole blocks in LA devoted to cloth -- and as a fiber artist may I also take this opportunity to decry the loss of a hardware store on every corner.

Later, I tried to learn how to sew, honestly, but failed; my mom and series of Home Ec teachers can attest to that. Frustrating thing about sewing one's clothing, or costumes, as I got into later: when you start, there's no guarantee the finished product will fit properly or look as good as you pictured. I have trouble sewing a straight seam, forget matching corners on a quilt! So many UFO's tossed into a corner, cuss words trailing after them -- until I decided to make cloth instead.

Fabric is Fabulous.

Anita M.

I think this is a crossover between the choices.

Once I started thinking about cloth and garments from my child hood I was surprised at how sketchythe actual details where but how strong the overall images are, which almost seems a contradiction.

The first garment that popped into my mind was a yellow jacket. I just remember really enjoying this jacket. I reckon I was about 5years old.The feel of the fabric was amazing, quite difficult to describe….it was very smooth, and I seem to remember stiff…but not unpleasantly so, it had 2 patch pockets on the front, a collar and biggish buttons.

Then a red towelling dressing gown gave me a big nudge. I really only remember it on one big occasion. I was about 2 years old and had split my head open. I was taken to hospital in a neighbours car. The dressing gown had a duck on the pocket…which I remember was rather bloody on the journey back home…which was sort of upsetting, but the fact I was having another ride in a car and an ice cream, actually made the whole episode quite special. I’m sure the duck recovered as well!

Two other garments also have a strong memory with me. One I still have, my grandparents brought me a party dress, yellow & white stripes, which had a self pattern on the strpies….this from memory, I haven’t gone and dug it out. It had a set in waist band that turned into a tie at the back and a peter pan collar.

But the big thing about it was the under skirt and the rustle it made it and the way it held the skirt out, I remember the need to spin on the spot to have it all whoosh out. It just added to the excitement and what I now know as glamour, to anything I wore it to. 

The final thing was a Donegal fabric skirt with box pleats & jacket with brass buttons my mother made for me, I guess I was 7ish I absolutely didn’t like it and would do anything not to wear it!….but then, when it was nearly too small for me, I suddenly found the beauty in it, the colour, which I remember as an emerald green with possibly black flecks. The shiny brass buttons that were great to suck!, the feel, soft and warm and workman ship.I think this was the last thing my mum made for me. Most probably from the disappointment of all that work then not worn!

From then on I would wear it at the slightest excuse, until finally it was definitely too small and most probably passed on to someone else.

Which also brought to mind that the yellow jacket, I found out later on in years, had been made by mum’s friend for her daughter then passed onto me and no doubt then passed on again. When I asked my mum about it she could remember it too and told me what an amazing needle woman her friend was.

Sara N.

Thoughts on my first memory of textiles.   When I was young, in the early 60's, most of my clothes were sewn by an elderly relative and I have very fond memories this.  Often when my mother would acquire clothes for us they would be brown, and would be for my eldest sister, handed down through to me last.  Brown because it was neutral, didn't get dirty etc.  Money was very short, and practicality was a priority.

But I did have a purchased machine knitted pleated skirt which was navy blue, and had two tops which were sewn to match and therefore make an outfit.  The entire outfit was new and just for me.   The tops were sleeveless, a bit blousy and were synthetic which I remember thinking was exciting as it was slippery and felt (at that time) luxurious! One top was navy blue background with small white flowers, the other top was lime green with small white flowers.  I have never forgotten those outfits.

My first personal textile memory was a sewing class in my first year of high school.  In thirdtermwe made a sleeveless shift dress.  The fabric my mother acquired was in fact curtain material, a course cotton with a floral pattern, but I did not like it and never finished the dress, and so never wore it.  I imagine, due to finances, somebody may have even given it to my mother.  It was so disappointing for me, although I never said so.

Moving on forty to fifty years and I only really like to wear natural fibres, would rarely purchase or sew with synthetic, and love to sew.  As our knowledge, values and insights change with time, the stages of life,  what we once loved we now avoid.   That is life.

Ann B.

A favorite garment was my First Communion dress. I grew up in the 60’s in a large Catholic family. We went to Catholic school and so wore uniforms.  Clothing was utilitarian.  There was no excess, no luxury except for the dresses my mother sewed for Christmas and Easter for the 6 girls in the family.  And that was fine.  I don’t recall feeling a need or want for anything special.  But I still remember any of the clothes that I had a kid that were out of the ordinary, to be sure.

Then, I turned 6 and went through the process of receiving my first communion.  This was a very big deal in my family and neighborhood.  There was extra attention thrown my way and a party and some gifts.  But I treasure that dress.  That beautiful, perfect white dress!  It transformed me.  It made me feel different and it changed how I looked at my clothing from then on. I felt beautiful, like a princess.  That was very big in those days.  And I bought into it all.

The dress was a sheer white over a white plain underdress.  It was a full skirt with full gathered short sleeves.  It had a long sash that tied behind me.  Oh, I remember those details!  The fine lace that was peeking out from the collar and cuffs and the piping that ran along the sash and hem.  It was so special.  I can recall how that fabric felt to the touch, the sound of the swish of the layers of the dress with the petty coat.

Thanks for asking me to write this.  It is such a great memory and I feel fantastic right now.

Christine W.

My first blanket was a purple flannel blanket with a satin ribbon along the top. I still have it. There are tatters of satin along the top, it is no longer rectangular but it is still cozy. Just looking at it you can see it was well loved. I do believe it started my love of texture. However, it does not hold as many memories as my first sewing project.

When I was 10, my mother started to teach me how to sew. My first real project was a simple block quilt, each block 10 inches square. I dug through my mother’s trunk full of remnant material that she had used to make clothes for my sister looking for pieces of fabric that were big enough. I remember cutting them out and my mother patiently showing me how to piece them together and sew a seam. I remember laying it out and layering it with the orange backing material and the batting. And I particularly remember fighting with the needle and orange yarn as I tied the corners - of wrestling to pull it through all the layers.

This quilt was my very first UFO. It was supposed to have head and arms to make it a big ‘doll’. I finished the quilt. I even embroidered the face but I never did get around to finishing the head and arms.

I loved that quilt. It was constantly around, the perfect comfort for long car trips, hanging out in they yard, snuggling on the couch, dragging over you in the middle of the night when you got cold. The seams have now given out beyond repair, yet I cannot get myself to get rid of it. The squares of fabric still hold memories of the dresses my mother made for us and the quilt itself, with it’s hideous ‘70s very orange polyester backing (which is the one thing that hasn’t given out), has its own store of memories and comfort given.

Jo Van L.

My first memories of a cloth:

Immediately I thought of an old green army blanket that I had as a child. I remember it because it was itchy. I always made sure the sheet touched me instead of the itchy wool blanket. I knew my father had gotten the blanket when he was in active duty in the army. We moved 13 times before I moved away from home at 22. The green blanket was always there. I first remember it when I was about nine and lived in Wyoming. My last memory of it was in my mom’s assisted living residence before she passed away. (note…. the itchy blanket was on a top shelf. Mom did not have it on her bed!)

More important to me is my memory of my mom’s button box. The box was made of myrtle wood. It had carved designs on the side. When you opened it, it smelled musty. My mom could sew but I don’t remember her sewing new clothes. I remember her mending and repairing clothes. When she would get her sewing basket out, I would get to play with the button box. I loved to sort the buttons and to feel the different textures. There were smooth ones and rough ones. There were a lot of little white ones because when a shirt wore out, my mom would cut off the buttons and save them.

When my mom moved from her home into assisted living I helped her move. I discovered her button box and excitedly opened it. I expected the buttons I had treasured but it was empty. My giving mother had given a grandchild 100 buttons so he could take them to school for a” one hundred day” celebration.

I still have the button box. It sits in my sewing room on a shelf. It will always remind me of my mom and of the fact that my mom taught me how to sew. If you open it now, you will see a few notes of affirmation. I planned to collect positive thought and put it in the box……a good thought but a practice that never went past the third day.

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You made it to Open Studio! This is where we will share work and assignments over the next ten weeks. Posts will appear as this one does and you will be able to easily read through Open Studio simply by scrolling down the page.

**Please note** Only the most recent 20 posts will appear on the first page. If small arrows appear at the bottom of this page, there are more posts to read! Click right or left to continue!

To comment on a post, click on the word "Comments" underneath the post. A DISQUS (Discuss) Box will appear with a place to leave your comment. You will also be able to see any comments made by other students and by me.

Continue with the instructions in the Posting Guidelines document to register with DISQUS.