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My Mom, may she rest in peace, probably has some quilting needles with her along with knitting needles! I was the recipient of her very first quilt when I was 4 1/2 years old (okay, that was just over 50 years ago). She made a 16-square from all our old clothes. I picked out the backing (a lamb material). The batting was my father's old naval blanket from when he served in the Coast Guard during the Korean War. This quilt was "tied". My Mom went on to make many dozens and dozens of quilts, mostly all hand-sewn and hand-quilted. She also became such an expert that she taught quilt-making. I did make one as a young girl, but didn't enjoy it. I made a second quilt for my daughter using mini-quilt squares my Mom had made and I inheirited combined with plain squares onto which I embroidered the alphabet, and then I edged the quilt in fabric from my Mom onto which went my daughter's birth date, gotcha date, name and adoption date. I have several quilts that Mom made and a very intricate and beautiful tulip appliqued square framed and hung in my foyer. I would proudly show you pictures of all of them, but since I'm packing to move, it isn't possible. Fortunately, when I was robbed, the robbers didn't realize how valuable quilts are!
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There are places in this country where quilting is still a common and valued activity. I happen to live in one, a small farming community in eastern Washington. I am sure Bonnieinflorida is correct in identifying some if the reasons for the overall decline in quilting, but there are other reasons. When I was a child, living in Texas, the bulk if our clothing was made of cotton, my mother who grew up in Wisconsin had had a larger portion of wool items, but both could be made into serviceable and long lasting quilts. Today virtually none of the items in my wardrobe are made of fabric that would be suitable for making a quilt. When I was a child in the 1950s many women sewed their clothing and that of family members because it was cheaper. I started sewing some of my own clothing at about age 12, but by the time I was in my mid twenties (1970s) I could buy a ready made blouse or dress for about half of what reasonably good quality fabric and a pattern would cost. At the same time more and more women were beginning to work outside the home (and having less time to teach their daughters to sew), "Home Ec" went from being a mandatory course to an elective that girls were discouraged from taking, we were encouraged to take college prep classes that would help us get a "real job". And at the same time the financial incentive for home sewing disappeared. So it wasn't just quilting but many forms of home sewing were in decline. For many women of my mother's and grandmother's generations (Great Depression and WWII) finally having a completely store-bought wardrobe was a luxury they embraced. Even now, quilting is not cost effective. I buy fabrics of mid range quality as cheaply as I can (sales, coupons, etc.) and the materials alone run $100-150, for a queen size quilt. Hand quilting a quilt that size takes months to years or having a quilt that size professionally quilted is probably another $150-200. So it is not surprising, that while there are a large number of dedicated quilters, the numbers have decreased significantly from the days when materials were readily available at little to no cost, beds were smaller, children less spoiled and expensive electronic devises were not ubiquitous (she writes on her iPad).
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Donna Thiemann
My mother was a historical quilter during her retirement years. I was the happy recipient of two of her machine made lap quilts. Mom use to attend every meeting, show or artist that came to her quilt society learning about color usage and types of different patterns. I enjoyed visiting her and watching her create such vivid art!

My mother was curator of the historical site in Oakhurst, CA. She often saw quilts donated in various states of aging. Some well kept most not so much. But the rich art and heritage never escaped her.

I will never forget the quilt she worked on for the city of Mariposa, CA. She toiled over her part of the quilt for sometime before getting it completed. The quilt was on display in the Library of Oakhurst at one time.

I have sewn a machine quilt out of some fat quarters mom gave my daughter. We so enjoyed the creative process but have never made another quilt. But I will never forget my mothers enthusiasm for the history of Quilts!

Thank you for this look back into the heritage of quilts.

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