Beautiful Stitches by a Beautiful Woman

I know a lot of you are curious about the photo that I posted on Monday.  That was a photo I took using my mobile device, which doesn’t always take great pictures.  Here’s a better one, I think.  It was hard to get a really clear picture since the quilt was hanging in a dimly lit room.

If you thought that maybe this was a new project of mine, you’d be way wrong.  This is way beyond my skill level and perhaps even my imagination.  This is a picture of a mini quilt that my mother in law made.  She is one of those amazing people who can take a skill and turn it into art.  Many people can sew and applique, but not many people can create something this amazing.   She has several of these mini quilts hanging in her house.  Each one is wonderful.

This one (above) is a larger version of one that she made for us and that hangs in our living room.  Let me show you a close up of my favorite part.  The time and patience required to applique each of those trees and eggplants just boggles my mind.  The eggplants are tiny–probably only about 1.5-2 inches in length.

The one she made for us has pockets to be used for mail.  I do have a few pieces of mail in it, but I think I need to remove them and hang it in a more central spot to showcase it a bit better.  It is too nice to be a mail holder, though it is really typical of my mother in law to make things that have some function as well as beauty.

Here’s another one that hangs in her spare room.  My mother in law used to be a seamstress/tailor before she retired.  To my knowledge, she did not make her first quilt until about 15 years ago when an artist friend drew a picture of something and asked if she could make a quilt that looked like the picture.  I wish I could show you a picture of that quilt, but that was in the days of film and I have not gotten my film scanned yet.  Just imagine the same level of detail, only wall-sized, not mini.  That quilt was easily an eight foot square.  It was truly a masterpiece–and it was her first quilt.

Nowadays, she uses pictures and greeting cards as inspiration for her needlework.  She does all her piecing and sewing by hand.  It’s been years since she has owned a sewing machine.  Unlike me, she never uses a pattern.  I’m not even sure she draws out a plan ahead of time.  She just draws on the fabric what she would like to embroider, picks up her needle and thread, and gets it done, trimming and appliqueing as she goes.

I love her sense of scale and proportion–very modern in style, though she was not trying to be anything but herself.  The details are amazing and her choice of colors always makes me smile.  Her love of gardening and nature is evident in all her work.

For a long time, I thought these flowers were machine-embroidered onto the fabric and she just cut it up, but no.  She hand embroidered each and every one of those flowers.  Every bit of detail was added by her.  It just stuns me to think about it.  She also has a unique way of hanging her quilts.  She just uses pins to pin them to the wall.  They are all over the quilt, but so thin, you can’t see them unless you are really looking for them.

Each mini quilt is about 2 feet wide and 3 feet long.  I love the little gray animal in the corner.  I’m not sure what it is supposed to be–I’ll have to make a mental note to ask her.  She has little handsewn projects all over her house, from little potholders to pincushions to decorative table covers.  I just had to share these photos of her work with you.  They are too good not to be shown somewhere.

There is an enormous amount of skill and vision in each of her projects.  Amazingly, she does all this, despite her arthritis, which she has suffered from for over thirty years.  Nowadays, she told me, she can only do needlework for about an hour a day.  She has a bit of a tremor in her hands and her eyesight is getting worse.  Still, she is an inspiration to me and hopefully, now, to you as well.

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Posted on March 29, 2012, in Inspiration, Quilting, Sewing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Beauty and inspiration together as a potent spring tonic to your readers!

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