As I worked on my latest quilt block for my Bible storybook, The Creation, I reached for a pin in my pincushion to hold a turned piece of fabric in just the right position while I hand stitched it to the background. Although there are probably 100 pins in my pincushion, I had a particular one in mind – Mama’s pin.
Pins are pins, I argue with myself as I take the time to pick out Mama’s pin, but that’s not the point. Mama’s pin reminds me of Mama and brings her a little closer to me as I sew.
I haven’t had Mama’s pin very long – a little over a year. The last time I stayed with Mama in her condo before she moved into assisted living, I needed to borrow a pin for something. This particular pin had a ball-shaped silver head on it or I wouldn’t have remembered it from any other pin. It had probably been salvaged from the packaging on something she bought in a store. When I got back home I discovered the pin in my things and put it in my pincushion.
Probably my earliest memory of Mama is of her sewing. WWII had just ended when I was born and times were tough. Mama had learned of a shirt factory where she could get fabric scraps that she could use to make dresses for my sister and me (and a couple of neighbor girls and my cousins.) I wanted to sew too but fabric was expensive and I was only about 4 or 5. I looked at the back of the pattern and wanted Mama to let me cut out the tiny pattern piece shapes printed there and make a real dress, but in her wisdom, she insisted that it wouldn’t work. Mama gave me a scrap of cloth to fold over my flat doll that had paper doll clothes.
A few years later I was old enough to take sewing in 4-H and I made an apron and a head scarf, but I couldn’t be satisfied until I made something from a pattern. Because fabric was expensive, I purchased a doll pattern and used a small piece of fabric Mama had salvaged to cut out and sew my first dress – granted, it was quite small. But it wasn’t long before I began making my own clothes. In Home Ec. I made a skirt, and for my homework sewing assignment I made a pair of shortie pajamas that I was so proud of. Soon I was making my own Easter dresses and other clothes. I later made my own prom dresses and my wedding dress. Now I’m taking my sewing in a different direction by making hand-stitched appliqué quilt blocks for a Bible quilt. These quilt blocks will also be the illustrations for my Bible storybooks.
I wonder if I would have ever grown to love sewing as much if I hadn’t first seen my Mama spending hours at the sewing machine making dresses and shirts for her children to wear. Mama gave me so much without ever realizing it, by just doing the things she loved. When I use Mama’s pin I am reminded of the rich heritage she gave to me in sewing.