Friday, October 7, 2011

Quilting With My Mom


My mother has been diagnosed with early dementia/Alzheimer's and it is easier for my Dad to take care of her in an assisted living environment. A few weeks ago my sisters and I, and our husbands, helped them with the move. This was a very surreal experience for us, seeing our parents leave their home (and ours) of over 50 years. This has been a very good move for them and they are happy in their new smaller home. The sewing machine has become very difficult for my Mom and the decision was made not to take her sewing things. This has been one of the hardest things for me as my Mom and I always had a love of quilting in common. She is still doing a little hand work, she is an accomplished knitter also, but over the past year I have seen her increasing struggles even with knitting.

On our way home from helping with their move my husband and I stopped in a rest area/visitors center in Julesburg, Colorado. There were volunteers manning the information and coffee counter and behind the desk was this quilt.
The hexagon shaped blocks are embroideries of the 50 states with the outline of the state, the state flower, and the state bird. The volunteers at the visitor's center had made this quilt and in the center had appliqued an image of a pony express rider, as Julesburg, Colorado was the only stop that the pony express came through in Colorado in the 1800s.

When I came home and thought about my mom's difficulty with sewing and her missing hand work, I asked if she was interested in doing some embroidery (my Dad thought she could still handle it). The quilt is from a pattern by the Colonial Company,,/ the company that makes Aunt Martha's iron on embroidery patterns. She was very excited to make this quilt with me and so we have begun. I trace out the patterns for her in pigma pens using the colors that the embroidery floss should be and mail her four or so blocks at a time. I can hardly stay ahead of her!

She is on block 18 or 19 already! Besides tracing the blocks for her I have started working on the star blocks and am going to machine applique them.

I also decided to make an eagle applique (header picture) for the center block and will be working on the machine applique of that block also.

I initially really liked the hexagon shape of these blocks, but these will be set in seams to sew together...yuck! I am thinking this is going to be a hand pieced quilt. So far this quilt has reminded me of the quilting my mom and grandmother did many years ago, the large hexagon blocks required a template mounted on sand paper that I had to add the 1/4 inch seam allowance, just like they used to do in their quilts (read between the lines here and know the first yard of red fabric is in the trash as I did not read the directions and cut out all of the half hexagons to0 small). I am tracing and drawing the whole, half, and quarter hexagons on the back of the fabric and then cutting them out so I already have lines drawn on the back of the blocks for hand piecing.
At the rest area where I saw the finished quilt the picnic shelters were in these tee pees. We stopped in this one with our coffee and found these little inhabitants. I am not sure what kind of birds these babies are, but their nest was made of mud and they pretty much owned this picnic shelter, their droppings were everywhere, but they are kind of cute. Happy Stitching All


  1. I'm so sorry to hear your mom has been diagnosed with dementia. But I'm glad your found a project she could still enjoy doing.

    As to your question about the little birdies. They look like mud swallows. We have them here in Texas. They are constantly trying to build nests in our outside entryway.

  2. You know I understand about your mom. I'm glad your folks are happy with the move. How exciting she is still able to do handwork. What a fantastic idea and project you are working on together!!

  3. I am sorry about your mother. It must be difficult to come to terms with, but it seems like you are a very supportive family and she must gain strength from that. How wonderful that you can share this quilt together.

  4. What a great project to work on together with your mom! She must be really enjoying the embroidery work. The eagle applique is fabulous!!

  5. What a lovely story about you and your mom collaborating on this quilt. My sister got my mother to crochet a blanket just before she lost the ability to do seing, knitting or crochet as she is affected by the same disease.
    I love, love your eagle block, what a tunning piece.