By Beverly Hicks Burch
In 1986 I took up needle and thread and began a mostly self taught journey on the road to becoming a quilter or as some of the more “artsy” of our kind call themselves, “textile artist”. I was greatly inspired by the work of my maternal great-grandmother, Rebecca Shaffer McGee. Even though she passed away in 1971 a few months shy of her 97th birthday she had a lasting influence on me...one I dare say she would be surprised…and I hope pleased to know about.
Becky, as she was called, raised 10 children…my grandfather included, who each in turn had children of their own. The family grew into a sizeable family and Becky and Dan (my great-grandfather) had a passel of grandkids.
In addition to raising her family Becky was renowned for a variety of things. She was a respected midwife in Lawrence County, Tennessee. Not only did she deliver a good number of the children of Lawrence County during those years, she also delivered the majority of that passel of grandbabies of hers…my Momma included. Becky was a top notch gardener…and she was a quilter. She made quilts for each of those grandbabies…no small feat if I might say so. This was in the day before rotary cutters and all the fancy bells and whistles we have that lend us ease and speed in our craft today.
Momma and her three siblings received Lone Star Quilts and it was the vibrant splashes of color in Mom’s quilt that gave me the latent quilting bug as a child. It lay dormant, incubating until 1986 when I couldn’t stand it any longer and I took my first tentative steps down my quilting journey.
Momma’s Lone Star is close to 45 - 47 years old now. She recalls her grandmother working on it when my youngest sister was a baby. At the time Becky was staying with my grandfather (Becky’s son) and grandmother. Mom said she remembers seeing her sit in a chair surrounded by boxes of her fabric. She would watch as Becky reached in the boxes for each piece to artfully put in its perfect place. The Lone Star itself is hand pieced, the extended background sections were added by machine…just proving that Grandmom did have enough sense to use the latest modern technology of her day to aid her in her work.
The morale here for all you quilters…don’t let anyone put you down if you machine piece instead of hand piece!
Momma's Lone Star - by Rebecca Shaffer McGee
Momma's Lone Star - Center Detail, by Rebecca Shaffer McGee
Momma's Lone Star - Fabric & Quilting Detail, by Rebecca Shaffer McGee
For a while it seemed like the quilting bug might have skipped a generation…or two. Mom had sewn dresses and such when we were little, but I had never seen Momma quilt. Then, not too long after I took up quilting, the bug bit Momma too, and she didn’t let moss grow under her feet. Even though she’s taken care of my mentally and physically disabled sister for over 40 years and become a grandmom herself, Mom found time to oil paint, tole paint, do needlepoint and amass a tidy little closet full of quilts and quilt tops waiting to be quilted. She’s like most of us quilters…she has plenty of UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) hovering around begging to be finished.
I didn’t realize…or had forgotten… just how many projects Mom had done until we were working in her new sewing room organizing things a little and arranging her new sewing closet. When I saw them, I knew it was time to take out the camera and start documenting (something I strongly recommend for you and yours). I realize I have to come up with a better way of displaying quilts when I photograph them, but until then preserving them in pictures is the important thing.
Documenting your quilts and the quilts in your family is
extremely important! I would estimate thousands of quilts have been lost to the passage of time to families and their heirs because the quilts weren’t documented in one way or another. How many quilts can you think of in your family at this very moment that are laying around but no one has the slightest idea who the maker was or when the quilt was made? In addition to making a photographical record of your quilt, I strongly encourage you to label each and every project you undertake. Believe me, your heirs and future quilt makers will thank you!
So, in the spirit of sharing, I hope you enjoy the contents of Momma’s closet…
This was one of Momma's 1st projects
"Amish Spinning Stars", by Juanita Hicks. Mom made this wall hanging for a guild challenge.
Christmas Basket, by Juanita Hicks. This little wall hanging is waiting to be quilted. Mom is fond of Christmas pieces...as you will see!
Christmas Rail Fence, by Juanita Hicks
Christmas Rail Fence - Top Detail, by Juanita Hicks
Christmas Rail Fence - Border Detail, by Juanita Hicks
Christmas Sampler, by Juanita Hicks
Running Hearts, by Juanita Hicks. A table runner Mom made.
Pastel Nine Patches, by Juanita Hicks
Pastel Nine Patches - Detail, by Juanita Hicks. Quilting by Beverly Hicks Burch
Peacock Mystery, by Juanita Hicks. This is Mom's mystery quilt. It's her finished top and a result of a class I taught. It's the same pattern as my Mystery quilt "Oh Say Can You See...It's A Mystery..." and my friend Shari's "Star....
Peacock Mystery - Detail, by Juanita Hicks
Peacock Mystery - Border Detail, by Juanita Hicks
Rose Corners. Mom won most of these blocks in a guild BOM drawing. She wants to make a few more to make the quilt larger.
Red & Green Applique. Another group of BOM that Mom won
Snowman in a Cabin, by Juanita Hicks
Chickens in a Barn. Mom is crazy about chickens!
© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.