Sunday, December 18, 2005

letter to Mama (about quilt)

October 15, 1895

Dearest Mama,

I was so pleased to get your letter in the mail this morning. I look so forward to news of you and Papa at home. Some days I wonder how I could have left the East and come to this country called Oklahoma. I guess the promise of a different life with a man I love caused me to pick up my trunk and wave goodbye. But, I do miss you and especially our chats about needlework projects.

I have finished the quilt I mentioned in my last letter. It is so different from the other quilts the ladies make here but I thought it would be a good way to show my love for my new baby boy. I will hang it over his cradle so he can know that he has two mothers who love him. I will explain it to him when he is older. He seems so little to me! Thank you so much for making the long train ride here to help me. The scraps you brought from home are already in the quilt.

I decided to use the brown linen piece for the background. I know you wanted me to have it for a table topper for the living room table but linen is so impractical here on the prairie. I do not have the nice help you have in Boston. The rich brown color is perfect. It is surprising how quickly my white linens discolored here. I love them anyway so I put them in the quilt to preserve them.

Some of my friends found out I was making this special quilt and gave me some pieces to use. It really makes the quilt have so much more meaning. Do you remember Rian, the mayor’s wife? She came by with her cute Schnauzer, Riley, when we were having tea. She is so different from me, Mama! She was throwing out an old quilt. Can you imagine? I begged her for a little piece of the corner. I cut it into a heart for the corner of my quilt. I bought some tiny mother of pearl buttons from the dry goods store when I made the christening gown so I had a few extras to use. The teacher at school, Barbara, gave me a charm I sewed on the heart. She also saw my crazy quilt blocks from that sewing circle in Boston. She encouraged me to use some of the stitches again. She had some metallic thread she shared with me. When you go to town next, would you send me some silver threads, please?

One of the ladies from my stitching bee is very good with crazy quilting too. You should see her work, Mama! The Boston ladies would just swoon over her stitches. She had some pictures of the Virgin Mary and showed me how to glue the pictures to fabric. Her name is Allie and she is so accomplished. I think she will be leading the stitching bee next year. She thought I could probably cut the skirt off my taffeta dress and use strips for the pictures. I saved the buttons and sewed them on the patches too.

My neighbor, Joanne, the one who I read to on Tuesday afternoons gave me a very old piece of beading. She said she saved it from her mother’s ball gown when her mother was at the Governor’s Ball in Virginia. Joanne really wanted me to have the piece. I feel so honored. I am sure it is her way of saving Thank you for reading to her. Her eyes are beginning to fail her and it is a pity since she is young too.

I added the pocket from Wesley’s mother’s dress and a little appliqué from her wedding dress. He is so sentimental to have saved it for me. He knows I cherish these little tidbits of history. Maybe it is his way of helping me adjust to this life that is so different from Boston. He likes it here—he is working on the town’s design so he is happy. He comes home with news of oil in the land near us. I am not sure what we would do with oil but he is sure it would make us rich.

Let’s see. I also used a scrap from the couch in Boston. I still love the leaves on that linen fabric. I had that very old tatted lace from Grandmama and I sewed it down without cutting it. I had a few pieces that I tried to tat too. They are not as good as Grandmama’s piece but I used them anyway. I had some homespun left from my apron and a piece for a smock I didn’t make so I used them for the quilt.

Oh, Mama, you should see how this piece looks! You would be so happy to know I am becoming an accomplished stitcher like you. Those long hours in the parlor practicing my handsewing may become a real nice hobby here in Norman. The ladies do like to get together and sew, have tea and pretend we are back home in the East. Although this is home now, isn’t it?

Give my love to Papa. I will send a picture when Wesley takes me to the capitol in November for the monthly legislative meeting. Oklahoma City has some stores and a nice hotel. He promises I can go with him. He wants a family portrait taken with his new baby boy. I’ll sneak in the quilt too!

Warmest love,


(As you can see, I took some creative license here! Plus, Blogger didn't accept my handwriting font but you get the drift, I hope!)


Pat/SWquilter said...

Beautiful job on the quilt, Deb - and I loved the commentary to go along with it as well - the closer I'm getting to the first Christmas without my Mom, the weepier I'm getting, and you made me cry! Not a bad thing necessarily, just something I need to work through.

Barbara C said...

Beautiful work Debra, your touching back story made me cry too. I really love the idea that your gave your quilt a voice.

Your piece is wonderful. there are so many different things to look at. In reading your story and seeing this quilt it occurred to me that these are more album quilts than collages--you could say they are variations on the traditional album quilt. They are assemblages of different elements, each one displayed as a distinct unit. This one especially reminds me of a scrap book or a photo album. Lovely work, and beautiful sentiments. These pieces truly are assembled from our relationships with others. Thanks for letting me be a part of your creative work.

Allison said...

I so agree with Barbara....that you have given the quilt its own Voice is so creative and touching and original...

I love that you were focusing on Unditional Love as it plays out in our own little terrestrial lives...very, very beautiful and inspiring, Debra!

I feel so lucky to have found you all and am looking forward to our year together doing the Journal Challenges....

Jules said...

Debra, I love this piece and the story to go with it. It made me think about using some of my grandma's hand made lace in a project.

Micki said...

what a wonderful touching story. reading it then looking at the quilt it just explains it all. nicely done!

Debra Spincic said...

Thank you, friends!

This is truly a feminine piece. I am not sure that a man would "get" it and that makes the whole Madonna quilting journey special for me. I feel like it is our secret as women.

This piece just evolved and I like the direction it took. I am going to do more quilts with voices. I think that will push me to explore some areas of interest with a new energy. I can be anyone in my own imagination, right?

I am happy to share my pieces and happy to have Barbara as a partner. Isn't it amazing how 2 people can approach the same topic with such difference? Wait to see what we do with the white glitzy fabric!

Olenka said...

Thank you, Debra! I'm late in arriving but not too late to appreciate your touching, heartwarming way of presenting the story of your quilt. Your warmth and caring emanate through the words as much as through the quilt itself. Each a grace-full experience.