On May 23, 2014 I lost my mother’s sister, who was a dear friend and sister in Christ: my beloved Aunti Lynda. Carolyn was only 72 when she passed on, and I miss her a lot. My husband was her executor, so it fell to us to sort her earthly leavings.
One of Aunti’s passions was quilting. She would have called herself a compulsive quilt fabric buyer. As a single lady who was sometimes a member and sometimes a president of quilting clubs in The Villages, FL, Aunti had both the time and financial resources to collect a vast amount of fabric. (And when I say “vast” I am being literal. When we got to her home, we found that fabric filled an entire bedroom lined with shelves as well as a secondary craft room!) Along with the fabric, Aunti left three sewing machines, a host of notions and quilting tools, and many half-finished quilt tops. We asked, “What should we do with all of this fabric?”
Aunti had tried to interest me in quilting during my visits to Florida over the years. She had also made many beautiful quilts for our antique farmhouse in WV. She knew that I had early learned to love sewing at my paternal grandmother’s knee. I had tried quilting under her tutelage, but the bug hadn’t bitten very deep. Part of it was that I didn’t have a local mentor; also, I was busy with the business I led.
Now that Aunti was gone, and I had decided to retire from my job, I thought I might try again. We had a yard sale in FL to unload about 2/3 of her fabric. We donated to her beloved quilting club about a quarter of what was left after the sale. We gave two sewing machines to family members. All this time, I kept wondering if I should honor Aunti by trying quilting again. In the end, I decided to keep a large chunk of her stash and the best sewing machine. I reasoned that if I didn’t learn to quilt within a year’s time, I would sell the machine and remaining fabrics and go on with life.
As I write this, it’s been almost a year since I took home that fabric. At first I was all excited and set up a new sewing room in my house.
But, as spring and summer came to the farm, there were many other activities to take up my time. I have eight grandchildren and animals, and somehow sewing just wasn’t high on the priority stack. As fall approached this year, I felt it was “do or die” for the fabrics and machine. I started to feel oppressed.
Then, my dear husband really encouraged me to think about my six granddaughters, and see if there were ways to use the fabric with and for them. As Christmas approached, I decided to make a few doll dresses for the eldest ones who have American Girl dolls.
Those dresses have launched me on a new path with Aunti’s legacy. I’ve prayed about it, and feel that winters here at the farm would be well spent in sewing through Aunti’s legacy, but not in making quilts. I plan instead to make doll clothes, quiet books, fabric playthings (like flat fabric dolls), and stuffed animals. These are all closer to my own experience with fabrics, and I feel excited and energized to start!
So, that’s the story of the fabric bequest. (There was also a generous fiscal bequest that enabled us to do many projects at Storybook Farm that might interest you if you are into renovations, building, or decorating. These posts are all under the heading of “Storybook Farm.”)
The fabric bequest, in particular, has launched me into a multi-year challenge: I seek to sew a generational legacy — putting Aunti’s beloved fabrics into projects that bless the family she loved — one stitch at a time! Many projects detailed on this blog incorporate this fabric. This page is somewhat of an index for them (see links below), or you can use this blog’s menu to find the posts listed below. Enjoy (and comment to show you care)!
American Girl Doll Dresses
The Maxi Dress