The Free Motion Quilting Project: Hitting the Road for Pensacola

Friday, June 6, 2014

Hitting the Road for Pensacola

Yesterday was the last day of school so today we're packing up and hitting the road for Pensacola!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

We've been traveling to Florida more often this year to see Josh's grandmother, Betty. For this trip, I'm arming myself with more than just a bathing suit and sunscreen, I'm also bringing a notebook to record memories.

Betty is James's only great-grandma (Josh's grandma), and while her short-term memory isn't great, her long term memory is still intact and I hope to be able to record some of her memories during this trip. Specifically her memories about the blankets and quilts in her home.

We've been having fun in
Pensacola since James was tiny
While not everyone might be interested in this sort of thing, I find it fascinating. I can remember cuddling up on Betty's couch and her mentioning that the massive crocheted blanket I was wrapped in was made by her mother. But I didn't write down the story or snap a photo so the details have gotten fuzzy.

This is just what happens - we take these blankets and quilts for granted, but there is a story there - who made this amazingly warm blanket and picked these colors? Was it for a special event or just because she loved to create? Is there a photo of the creator working on this or another project?

Four years ago, I probably wouldn't have thought to ask these questions. I just wasn't that curious about quilts I'd grown up with and seen my whole life. Also I honestly took them for granted, thinking they would always be there for me to see and enjoy another day, and equally I assumed that the people I'd need to ask would stick around forever too.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
This is a quilt I've inherited and I still can't
quite figure out how it was pieced!
A mystery!
But then I lost my grandmother in 2012 and my opinion suddenly changed. Suddenly she was gone and I never thought to ask her WHO made that yo-yo bedspread? A massive yo-yo quilt was almost always spread over the bedroom I stayed in when sleeping over at her house. It was scratchy (probably polyester knits) and I remember wildly vivid colors in the fabrics.

I swear that yo-yo quilt will haunt me for the rest of my life - who made it? why? did the fabrics come from clothes? WHAT did those clothes look like before they were cut up?! I'll never know!

So I'm trying to make sure that doesn't happen again. While I know there are many stories and memories I could capture, to me a hand made blanket or quilt captures a perfect snapshot of the creator - here is something she MADE, a piece of a woman that has passed, yet here I am still enjoying it, still wrapped up in her comfort.

That is a powerful legacy indeed and a story worth capturing. I can't wait!

Let's go drive a long distance!



  1. That's a wonderful idea, a great reminder to those of us with quilts in the family, and you expressed it beautifully. You always write so eloquently. Have a fantastic time with the family!

  2. Hi Leah - Indeed, every quilt has a story and, as we quilt, we think about the recipient, add details, chose patterns that mean something to that person or the moment we're in. In the beginning, I kept a log and scrapbook of the quilts I made for people, even though they were very simple. Now, with the wonder of blogs, we quilters can actually take pix, post our quilts on our blogs, and even convert our blogs to books... all for the posterity. Even if the quilts disappear in the schools' lost and found bins, get abandoned on the picnic grounds, or chewed by the family dog, there is a recorded history of our work and, mostly, of the love that went into the work... We are so lucky! Keep on quilting and loving and gifting the quilts away!

  3. Amazing how different a block looks when it is done in a non-traditional coloration/style, isn't it? Looks to me like this is the The Rain Drop Quilt Block, page 341-6 in Jinny Beyer's book. The block is on point in the quilt. The outside pieces with the concave curve are string-pieced instead of being a single fabric.

    Barbara in MD

  4. This is what I have based my whole blog on was the story that goes into quilts. Even the quilts we are making have stories. Our blog posts may tell the whole story. But because it is so public we may leave out some things. We need to make sure to that down somewhere. Because your grandchild will want to know the answers to those questions also.

  5. A great idea to note her stories and take some photos. I certainly hope you have photos of you with your work for James to have when he's old

  6. You might buy a digital voice recorder. I got mine at Walmart. I not only have my mother's voice but the story in case I forget the details. Enjoy your trip.

  7. My mom and Grandma both quilters, both passed the same week in 2008. How I wished I had asked questions about quilts and bedspreads that were part of their house and home. Why this design, where did you get the material, when was it made, who made it? Enjoy the trip and write things down, or even video tape.

  8. I think it's wonderful you're doing this. I know there are quilts my grandmother made that I wish I knew more about. And good luck with all of the traveling, too!

  9. Dear Leah!
    I can understand your wish to write down the old stories. It's soooo interessting to know the history about old things. Wish you luck for getting this memories told. :)
    Greetings! Rike


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