When I was about 13 my family moved from the “country” to more of a suburban setting. Our new neighbors had four daughters. Two of them were a bit older than me, one was about my age – maybe a few months younger – and the fourth was quite a bit younger. The girl about my age was also named Becky and we became good friends.
My family began going to the church started by their “uncle-in-law”. I spent a good deal of time at their house either at Youth Meetings or just hanging out.
Becky, her oldest sister, Carol, and their Mom were all great seamstresses. One of them was forever sewing something. They didn’t do crafty things, just clothes and I would sit for hours and watch them.
I did not have a sewing machine but I took Home Ec. in school for 3 years which was one of the most frustrating things I have ever done. Class time was about fifty minutes so by the time I got started on a project it was time to stop and pack things away till next class. The teachers always measured us and told us what pattern size to buy and then nothing ever fit quite right.
If it had not been for the fact that I watched my friend and her family sew and actually produce wearable clothes I might have given up before I ever got started.
As soon as I finished High School I went off to Bible College for three years. When I finished there I moved to Florida and one of the first purchases I made was my very own portable sewing machine. I began making some of my clothes and, surprise – surprise, they weren’t half bad.
Unfortunately, however, my plans to begin quilting were interrupted. I got married, had two sons and moved to Africa as a missionary with my husband. So for several years I was busy with children and helping with the church and Sunday School, leaving very little time for Quilting. One very small and simple patchwork quilt, my first, was the only quilting I managed to do and that without any instructions or patterns. It was something I had in me which had to surface.
During that time I did make curtains and patch jeans and let out my husbands pants or take them up, depending on his ever-changing sizes, sewed on many a button and did a few crafts and odd things here and there. My husband and sons thought I could patch or repair anything and most of the time I managed to work a miracle on whatever they needed done.
But, finally about eight years ago I was able to take my first quilting class! Whew! It was a long time coming.
The class was great but what made it special was the personal instruction I got before the class. An acquaintance, Lydia, (who just happens to be one of the best in patchwork and quilting in South Africa) sat with me for about three hours and showed me so much. I made my very first “Friendship Star” quilt block during that class and still have it today but, I have to admit that I learned more in the three hours I spent with Lydia than in all the classes I have taken since. She showed me the basics and I will forever be grateful to her for that.
The moral of the story? I guess you could say that the best way to develop sewing/quilting skills is through friendships.
Till next time. Becky in the Jungle.
Becky’s book recommendation: Quilt Africa is another great book of ideas by Jenny and her sister, Pat, both born and resident in Johannesburg, South Africa. Provides great inspiration. Many patterns and loads of color. African designs by people living in Africa.