Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter©
Memoirs of Carol S. Jackson, Evans, GA
Printed by the author
As the years passed, I would often sit on Mothers bed while she sewed on her treadle machine. I usually read, but sometimes I’d embroider, or make another square for my crotchet table cloth. There wasn’t much conversation, as Mom was deep in thought with her projects. I collected the scraps and rolled them neatly, with the largest pieces on the outside, folding the ends over to tuck in all the loose and tiny scraps. I then tied the bundle with a long scrap strip, like a tamale. This is how I still store my scraps. Then, the bundles were put in the green laundry bag marked with my Dads name, rank and service number. The scraps would go to Meridian with each trip we made, where they would become part of a quilt. I still have the bag, but my bundles are now stored in bulk cereal boxes, cardboard drink cases and plastic drawers.
The sound of the treadle machine was soothing. I had done some sewing with Granny on her treadle. Uncle Walter had made an “elevator” to put on the peddle for me. Granny padded and covered the elevator to use as a foot prop when I wasn’t sewing. It was attached to the treadle with a couple of Uncle Walters trouser belts. I cut quilt blocks from the scraps, and sewed them together. It wasn’t as artistic as the Sunbonnets. I also made some hobo bags with draw strings that I could use at school. They matched my dresses. My sewing was all in Meridian. Mom couldn’t share her machine. I was too slow, and she always had a project. I just watched silently, and learned.
When I was in the seventh grade, our chorus had an opportunity to usher for the opera. The opera, being a formal affair, required much nicer clothes than we wore to the symphony concerts. Mom wouldn’t make a dress for me, but she’d let me make it myself. I was elated! This time, when we went to the piece goods store, it was for me. With mothers guidance, we selected a pattern, taffeta, thread and zipper. It would be beautiful.
The dinning table was cleared, the material laid out, the thin, tissue pattern pieces laid out and saucered. I held the shears with confidence as I began cutting. After cutting, the pattern was paper-clipped to the fabric to avoid leaving pin holes. I placed the loose end of the thread between the bobbin and bobbin holder, ran it through a snake-like path and put the wooden spool on a shinny pin on top of the machine. Slowly, I eased the wheel toward me as I began to treadle. I watched closely as the bobbin rotated, making certain that it wound smoothly, and did not overfill. I had difficulty getting the bobbin into the bullet shaped shuttle. I was a nail biter, couldn’t quite open the shuttle door. Then, I threaded the machine, as I had in Meridian. I think mom was surprised that I knew how to do that.
The material was placed cautiously under the foot, I lowered the shaft and turned the fly wheel forward until the needle pierced the fabric. My legs were long and slender, and I could easily reach the pedal. The elevator was no longer necessary. I began pumping. Oh my goodness! What is happening? This is not right. The material is sliding. What to do? I tried bobby pins. No luck. I was going to have use the straight pins.
Pinning was time consuming, and brought back happy memories of pinning my first quilt block. This time, however, I placed the pins parallel to the cut edges, I pined only in the seam allowance, to avoid slippage, and keep the pin holes in the 5/8 inch seam allowance. I tried again. Broke a needle. I didn't have a good experience that day. The rest of the week was the same. I was frustrated. My first dress and I wasn't doing worth a darn. I only had two weeks before the first opera. There were also scout meetings, home work, choir rehearsal, chores and of course school. As the deadline fast approached, it was apparent I wouldn't be able to finish. Too many things wrong, frayed edges of taffeta everywhere, nothing right, suitable for the rag wagon. Tears, anger, disappointment. How would I explain to my choral director? Mom won't make or provide me with a dress. I would miss the usher training, therefore, not be able to work the season. How I wished I could go to Maw Maw for comfort. I needed that touch of cinnamon on buttered bread with sugar.
. . . to be continued . . .
Only one more episode of the Early Years
To read or re-read the story to this point:
episode #1 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-89325-1.htm
episode #2 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-91439-1.htm
episode #3 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-93252-1.htm
episode #4 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-95299-1.htm
episode #5 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-97179-1.htm
episode #6 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-99313-1.htm
episode #7 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-101509-1.htm
episode #8 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-103467-1.htm
Please contact the author for reprint information.