Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter

Memoirs of Carol S. Jackson, Evans, GA
Reprinted by the author

Episode #1

The Early Years

Many, many, many, years ago, I started quilting. I sat on the floor of my Grandmothers’ house in Meridian Mississippi, with cardboard cut-outs of bonnets, baskets and bellowing skirts, a flour sack of “rags,” and a pair of blunt scissors. The rags had come from the mule-drawn wagon which ambled through the streets collecting and dispensing the mountains of fabrics. Even at my tender age, I could proudly identify and select appropriate fabrics for intended uses. Cheese cloth for clabber, curtains, or kitchen; wool for quilt filler or blanket repair; cotton for quilt patches; and flannel for quilt backing. Finer fabrics, such as silk, didn’t make their way to the wagon in those early post war years.

When Granny felt I was ready, I was given a little sewing basket of my very own. The basket contained a shinny metal thimble, multiple wooden spools of colorful thread, scissors with pointed tips, a strawberry pincushion, a paper of pins, a little magnifying glass and best of all - needles, complete with a wire threader. Quickly, I made my way to the linen room where the cigar boxes of pre-cut fabric pieces were stored. I selected all the pieces I needed to make a Sun Bonnet Sue. She was my favorite because that was my middle name. Then came the difficult decision of which color to use to for a background.

Once I had the treasures, I asked my aunt for a hoop, and sat in the rocker next to Granny with my new sewing basket and carefully coordinated pieces of Sue. The lessons began. I didn’t know I had to use an iron. I had to wait until the stove got fired up again. It had already burned out from breakfast, and because it was summertime, there was no soup on the back burner. My excitement was overwhelming, I had to start sewing. So, I selected a not so precious piece of fabric and headed to the rocker for lessons on the basics. Granny would show me how to make a stitch, then I’d make at least 10 just like it. She called it my sampler.

That afternoon, while birds sang, the sun hone, and summer grass beckoned, I stayed in the house making a small sampler of embroidery stitches. I couldn't wait for Granny to start supper. I volunteered to bring in the stove wood, shell peas, fetch water, or anything else I could do to get that iron hot. “Mind your needle,” my grandmother cautioned, “There will be plenty of time to finish your square before you go back to New Orleans.”
to be continued . . .

  1. Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter Introduction

    by , 11-21-2011 at 03:39 PM (Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter)
    Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter - Introduction

    Memoirs of Carol S. Jackson, Evans, GA
    printed by the author

    Do we write about our problems so that they will live in infamy? Or do we accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, giving ourselves, and the world, the false illusion that we are more than what we really are? By recording our mistakes, we record history - lest man, (or quilter, be it man, woman or child,) not repeat our mistakes. ...
  2. Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter #10

    by , 11-21-2011 at 02:45 PM (Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter)
    Episode # 10

    Success Follows Failure

    Granny prepared grilled cheese sandwiches as I told her my tragic tail over the Winter holidays. “That was a cruel thing to do to a kid,” she mused. “Well, we all know that you can sew, you just didn't have the right material and a good coach.” Let's make a nice dress while you're here in the summer.” Sounded like a good plan to me. And so it came to be. A very nice dress, but not made with slick material. It could be dressed ...
  3. Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter #9

    by , 11-21-2011 at 02:36 PM (Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter)
    Episode # 9


    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 ...
  4. Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter #8

    by , 11-21-2011 at 02:30 PM (Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter)
    Episode # 8

    Grandmother Competitions

    The visit to Meridian couldn’t come soon enough. During the winter there was a short period of time when I was home, sick. Instead of the customary puzzle book, Daddy had gotten a ball of crochet thread and a needle to keep me entertained between fevers. I couldn’t wait to show Granny what I could make. I rode The City of New Orleans, a delightful steam engine train, to Meridian that year. During the trip I made a shell ...
  5. Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter #7

    by , 11-21-2011 at 02:25 PM (Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter)
    Episode # 7

    The Other Grandmother

    Maw Maw lived only a few blocks from us in New Orleans. She was from Columbia, and spoke very little English. She also had Tuberculosis, and wasn’t allowed to hold me or get too close to me. That didn’t stop us from being emotionally close. She taught me how to make cookies, jellow, jams, and buttered bread with cinnamon and sugar. I’d come home from school to find a note from my mom saying that she was shopping, and that ...
  6. Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter #6

    by , 11-21-2011 at 02:19 PM (Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter)
    Episode #6


    When I got to Meridian, there had many changes in the house. Granny had electricity and indoor bathrooms! A lot of space in the linen room was lost to make space for the bath rooms. There was a small bath on Aunt Dee’s side of the house which had been the closet nook. Her bath had a little shower, and a big bath was on Granny’s side of the house. Her bath had a big iron tub which sat up on golden balls. It was called a ball and claw tub. ...
  7. Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter #5

    by , 11-21-2011 at 02:11 PM (Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter)
    Episode #5

    Secrets in the House

    The old Victorian had been built in 1852. It sat on top of a hill on 28th Avenue, near 16th Street. It was a huge house in my perspective. There were little windows upstairs, but there wasn’t an up stairs. Floor to ceiling was twelve feet in all of the rooms. The windows were eight feet tall. My grandparents had moved in with their first child in the latter part of the 19th century. They rented the two rooms on the small side ...
  8. Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter #4

    by , 11-21-2011 at 02:07 PM (Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter)
    Episode #4

    Thanksgiving Surprise

    The drive from New Orleans to Meridian was long. I probably slept most of the way. But, as we neared the house I was thinking about Sue. After the disgusting hugs from all the relatives, and the predictable, “how she’s grown,” comments, I wormed myself away, down the hall to the linen room. The oil lamps were all on. Sue wasn’t where I had left her. Perhaps Aunt Dee needed her hoop back . . . she must be in one of the cigar ...
  9. Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter #3

    by , 11-21-2011 at 02:03 PM (Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter)
    Episode #3

    Birth of a Sunbonnet Sue

    Morning comes early in the country. The chickens begin calling before the first light. I hurried to get my chores done, which included going under the house to gather eggs, and take them down the street to the market. After my “cat bath” I was ready to visit my pressed cloth pieces. We sat in our rockers, Grandmother and I. The pieces were positioned in the prepared hoop of drab background cloth and pinned in place. From ...
  10. Confessions of a Want-to be Quilter #2

    by , 11-21-2011 at 01:54 PM (Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter)
    Episode #2

    Strike While the Iron is Hot

    The black irons sat cold in their wire cradle. Why couldn’t we put them on the stove, I wondered aloud. Because it’s time to fix supper. There were some excuses about not wasting the wood that I really didn't understand. Finally, when the wash water went on the stove, so did the irons. I was so excited. While they warmed, I had to make a portion of starch water. After adjusting the wooden ironing board to a height I could reach, ...

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