Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mommy, Me, and the Worst Quilt Ever

Marian Brooks Bryant, age 8

I made my first quilt when I was in the 9th grade, if your definition of quilt is very generous.  There are no pictures and I had forgotten about it, until today.  In honor of my mother's birthday, here is the sad and sorry tale.
We were living in Birmingham, AL.  Alabama history was required for 9th-graders and my history teacher, Ms. Haley, decided we should read some of the Foxfire books that detail the traditions and way of life of people living in the South in the 19th century.  Not only should we read these books, but she had us choose a project, like learning a traditional dance, or making lye soap, or quiltmaking.

I, foolishly, chose quiltmaking.  My mother does not sew.  She taught me to crochet, and how to sew buttons back on clothes, and I could sew the elastics and laces onto my ballet shoes, but that was about it.  I thought I understood the instructions in the book (how hard could it be, right?), so off we went.

Because she is fantastically supportive, Mommy borrowed a friend's sewing machine and we went to the fabric store where I picked out some fabrics to use.  I remember the coarseness of one, and I'm not sure any of them were 100% cotton.  A bad start.

The instructions were for a simple nine-patch square.  Each 9-patch square was supposed to be 12 inches, which meant that each patch should have been 4 inches.  I thought each patch was supposed to be 12 inches, so I merrily went about assembling the quilt top into one giant 9 patch square.  Just wrong, wrong, wrong.

It got worse.  Neither of us knew the difference between batting and stuffing.  We had stuffing.  So we stuffed the quilt.  By the time we got done with that thing, it looked more like an understuffed pillow than anything else.

Presentation day, and one other girl in my class had chosen quiltmaking.  She pulled out a beautifully quilted 12-inch square.  I had a giant shopping bag containing ...a...comforter?  My classmates felt sorry for me.  The teacher called it a shot in the dark.  I cursed the Alabama Board of Education for making me take the class in the first place.

I don't know what happened to it.  We had no dog, so it didn't end up as a dog bed.  Maybe it just got thrown out.  I would bet that Mommy doesn't remember this project at all; I blocked it out so well that I have been making quilts for eight years without a single flashback to it.

So happy birthday, Mommy.  I'm glad we didn't try to make lye soap.


  1. Your Mommy was cut from fantastic cloth. Mommy's are supportive of many of the trainwrecks they see coming. But as my own Mommy says, "Somethings Maude has to teach you." (Maude is and old time reference to yourself.) Glad you didn't stop making quilts! Teach me?

  2. Your Mommy was wonderfully supportive then, and still is today. Happy birthday Marian, and thanks for the story Jacquie. ~val

  3. Leigh, I've never heard about Maude. I'll have to use that one. Sure I'll teach you. It would be fun!

    Val, thanks! I know how much my mother appreciates you.