Eleanor Roosevelt Projects

Grandmom's quilt

I am brave when it comes to quilting the tops of quilts.  For someone who doodles a lot, I should be braver and more willing to experiment.  I’m too critical.  I had this project a long time before I tackled it.  There is a story attached.

Many years ago, I bought a kit of squares to embroider.  They were in a pretty gray-blue, one of my favorite shades of blue and they made a lovely shape.  I started it and quickly became bored with it.  I offered the quilt squares to my grandmother, thinking she’d give them to one of her friends.  I forgot all about it.

About ten years ago, I learned to quilt.  It was slow going and I was discouraged but continued to try.  I got a bit better.  Then my mother handed me a package of batting and a quilt top.  It was those squares.  My grandmother must have been in her late 70s or early 80s when she embroidered them.  My mother had pieced it together and she wanted me to quilt the top.  I was intimidated.  Deeply so.

But this year, I decided it was time.  I was reminded of the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”  I decided to categorize this as an Eleanor Roosevelt.

I made the backing and quilted it.  There were little dots as guides for the intended quilting so I was able to mostly follow them.  They were very faint.  The quilt is large and I did the quilting on my fancy schmancy machine which has a wider throat but was not terribly amenable to the size.  It was hard work and I quilted for days andQuilt label days.  As I wrestled and quilted and sewed,  I thought about my grandmother and my mother.  I felt deeply connected to them, to the stories of my life, and to a sort of continuum of stitching and creating women.  The energy of Craft moves us all into the flow of community.

Finally it was finished.  The back is a mess but the front is awesome.  One step forward and a “good first effort,” if I do say so myself.  And I made the label with blue birds.  There’s a story there:  One summer my mother, grandmother, and uncle were bemoaning the fact that they didn’t see many bluebirds anymore.  As we were talking, we look out the window to the bird feeder and there’s one bluebird, a pair, two pairs until there were four pairs of bluebirds who became regular visitors.  I always associate bluebirds with the trio of my grandmother, mother, and uncle.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bertcollections
    Mar 28, 2013 @ 21:09:05

    What a lovely quilt story.

    I have had some Eleanor Roosevelt quilts too – I like that this idea put some hope and humour back into a quilt. I am finding that if I do some practice pieces to test colours, techniques, patterns etc a quilt goes from being an E.R quilt to a “1000 mile journey begins with the first step” quilt.

    Thanks for sharing and happy stitching.


  2. bertcollections
    Mar 28, 2013 @ 21:11:29

    Reblogged this on bertcollections and commented:
    Have you got an E.R. quilt that needs some help? Here’s a great insight from gailwood as well as a gorgeous story of the quilt.

    What’s your ER story?



  3. stitchinggrandma
    Mar 29, 2013 @ 03:13:13

    It really is a lovely multi generation project that you are sure to love forever. Machine quilting anything bigger than a baby quilt on my small machine is terrifying. I have done twin size with free motion, and felt like I ruined my beautiful piecework with my poor (first time) FMQ. Thank goodness my grandchild doesn’t know any better. I am working on my 2nd FMQ and it is about 60×70″ and a challenge to work on as well. Keep at it. 🙂


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