My grandmother was not a woman of means. She worked for decades in a sewing mill that produced bathroom rugs. She spent long hours in front of an industrial sewing machine, her merit measured by how many rugs she could produce in an hour. My grandfather was a groundskeeper. So needless to say, they weren't exactly rich. They were even known to live in places without indoor plumbing or with holes in the floor where you could peer down into the basement.
When my grandmother retired though, she could relax a bit. Having spent her life at the machine, you wouldn't think that she'd relish in making things for herself or for anyone else. But this she did. Relax? Sure, she may have relaxed her body but her hands were always busy. She was always tinkering with something, always had some kind of project going, whether it be embroidering a pillowcase or making a full size quilt.
When she died nearly two years ago, my family and I couldn't bear to go through through all of her things. So we hastily packed everything up and stored it away, until we were ready to deal with it. That day has been a long time coming. But several weeks ago my mother and I loaded up some boxes and started to make our way through. Naturally, the sewing items went to me. And boy did she have some stuff! My grandmother was physically unable to go to the store and not pick up some rick rack or some lace or some embroidery thread or a yard of fabric that caught her eye. And this is just about 1/10 of what I actually have. She saved everything so I have pieces of her collection that date back at least several decades. It took a solid week to wash and fold all the fabric from her collection.
I found the patterns for doll clothes that she made for me when I was little.
I even found a few remnants that I, no doubt, left at her house when I was there for the summer.
She taught me to embroider when I was about 7 years old. This little kitten is the very first thing that I ever made. I remember that I embroidered this onto one of her pillowcases.
I came home with about 75-80 packages of iron-on transfers. I sorted through them, many of which were duplicates or tattered or very obviously used up. There were a few vintage patterns that I recognize as pillowcases that she made.
I now have four of her unfinished quilt tops. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with them just yet, seeing as how I don't quilt.
This one is most intriguing as it was completely done by hand. And the fabric has that near papery feel to it that tells me that it's very old. It's also the only one that my mother could not identify. So it's a mystery.
This little needle book is one of my favorite finds.
But my most favorite discovery of all was this little collection of quilt squares. They were stacked together amongst a myriad of other things. And a small slip of paper was pinned to the top one...with my name on it.