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Friday, April 8, 2016

Pieces of Memory in that Quilt

I decided I wanted write descriptions of the pieces in my quilt. I’m pretty sure this post will be interesting to nobody but me! I already talked about this quilt, but I found my memories are flowing from this particular quilt and I simply have to record them for myself.

I used scraps left over from making dresses, skirts and culottes, shirts, blouses, and a caftan. Most of the green fabrics were for my sister. She loved green. Most of the small floral prints were mine. My mother had a dress out of the white and brown near the lower right corner. The blue stripe was material I used to make shirts for my brothers. One of my brothers wore his shirt all the time.

I wanted to have a solid blue border all the way around this quilt, but there wasn’t enough of that fabric in the house. I don’t remember if we were pinching pennies in those days, but for whatever reason, we didn’t go buy a little more fabric; instead, I cut up what we had and tried to make a symmetrical pattern of the corners. I’m not sure my design was the best choice I could have made, but it represents my best efforts of the time. I confess to being proud of how straight the lines of quilting stitches were. The pattern of diamonds is perfectly even all over. The back of this quilt is bright red.

I posted a blog about Easter dresses. Many of these pieces were from my yearly Easter dresses. I always made myself a dress for Easter when I was a teenager. My mother would buy me and my sister complementary printed fabric for our Easter dresses and she would make my sister her dress (my sister never liked sewing; I did). In the picture at the left, I cannot imagine why I thought that center fabric of yellow and pink was pretty, but that was one of my Easter dresses. I can’t remember whose was the red paisley. I think it must have been something of my mother’s. The green plaid was my sister’s dress the same year that mine was a pink and brown plaid. The pink with the bluebirds was my dress the same year my sister had the green paisley (see right). My sister had a dress from that brown and gold and orange floral. Very sixties! The green stripes in the center were matching sheath dresses for both of us sisters, probably the last dress my mother ever made for me, when I was 11. I had wanted the stripes to go up and down, but she made them go around. I felt fat (I was actually pretty skinny).

  On the left the sort of shield print on reddish-brown was from a dress I made when I was a senior in high school. It was an A-line dress with long sleeves gathered at the shoulders and tapering to slim cuffs. It had a stand-up collar. I loved it. Contrast that with the pastel pink and coral fabric on the right, from the first sewing class I ever took. It was summer school and my mother did not want us home all day alone. So I took sewing, and we were instructed by Mrs. B. to buy pretty fabric for a wrap-around dress. This was a perfectly straight dress with no sleeves, but with three armholes. You put both arms through the holes in front of you and then pulled the extra piece around your back and put your left arm through the third armhole so there were two armholes on that side. We were allowed to either sew an invisible snap to hold it closed, or to make a self-tie belt. I believe I chose the invisible snaps. My ability to sew one side of the snap invisibly was rudimentary and later I made the belt to cover up the stitches holding the snap.

Those red stripes were from a caftan I made for myself in the early 1970s. Remember caftans? When women (and girls) walked around in things that looked like a cross between a muu-muu and a nightgown? I wore caftans happily for about eight years to both casual and formal events. They were extremely comfortable. Next to the caftan fabric is the red-white-and-blue print that I made into a dress to wear on my first day of high school. Those were the days when girls had to wear dresses or skirts to school. How I worked over that dress! It had to be exactly right. No fourteen-year-old girl worried over her appearance any more than I did in those days. To add to the pressure, two of my brothers were upper classmen. The one who was a senior was very popular and I didn’t want to let him down. That first day as I walked down the halls between classes, I kept being greeted by people I didn’t know, who cheerfully shouted out, “Hey! Larry’s sister!” I was hoping they weren’t thinking his sister was weird or ugly or funny-looking. Why do fourteen-year-old girls lack all self-confidence? The loud green and orange daisies was probably my sister’s Easter dress from around 1967. Doesn’t it look like Summer of Love type fabric? We lived just south of San Francisco in those days. Although our parents kept us strictly from being hippies, we did like what they wore. However, we were made to bathe regularly, whether we liked it or not. My best friend in those days had an older brother who dropped out of college and joined the flower children on Haight-Ashbury. I was fascinated to learn that he had not had a bath in four months. Had I met him up close, I’m sure my fascination would have taken a sudden negative turn.

Inside the loud green and orange daisies are the stripes I mentioned of the shirt that one of my brothers wore and the other did not. The one who did not was the popular high school senior. He was too cool to wear a shirt his sister had made. He wore only store-bought clothes. The brother who wore the shirt was older, a poor college student, one who did not care much about what he wore or what other people thought of his wardrobe. But he did worry a lot about his hair. He had very curly blond hair, and he began to grow it long in the late 1960s. When he was a younger teenager, he was always combing it in case some female or other was looking at him.

That yellow next to the loud green daisies was something I liked so much that I also bought a length of the same pattern in green and white. You can see one piece of it. I can’t even remember what I made out of that fabric. I think the blue dotted swiss in the center was my mother’s. I seem to remember she had a pretty dress with a full skirt out of that.

These two frames are an Easter dress fabric with a green plaid school-dress fabric of my sister’s. Inside the green floral are two fabrics of culottes. Culottes were the daring way of wearing shorts to school in the days when girls had to wear skirts or dresses.

But the fabric I really like is the pretty floral inside the plaid. It was my Easter dress in 1970, a sleeveless empire-waist dress that I lined with pale pink and tied in back with pink satin ribbon. The next year I put floaty long sleeves on the dress, took the pink lining off, put on green satin ribbon, and wore it all year around. Three years later I acquired a white straw windowpane-weave picture hat at Disneyland. I wore it with this dress, probably looking (and dreaming of being) the ideal of a romantic heroine with my long floaty-curly blonde hair and pale skin. Alas! there was no boyfriend in the picture. I had to be content with dreaming of being a romantic heroine.

I dreamed that dream for a long time!


  1. Hi Marci,
    I think I remember getting that blue stripe shirt, although, whether as a hand me down from Larry or from you, I don't remember. I wore it all the time during my first year in college, but not when I was home.

    1. How wonderful that you wore the shirt! I never knew. Makes me glad I remembered it and added that memory here so you could remember to tell me!


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