Monday, April 22, 2024

Like Leila, Like Laura (Maybe?)

I have been so inspired lately, reading Leila Lawler's "Like Mother, Like Daughter" blog (which is often graced with lovely, well-written posts by her grown daughters as well).  How I missed her all these years that I've been immersed in the blogging world is beyond me.  She is just awesome (as are her girls), and I pretty much agree with her mindset on every aspect of the vitally important triple vocation we share: wife/mother/homemaker.  I mean, I feel like we could be best friends if we ever met (although I'm so shy and terrible at making new friends that she might be less enthusiastic about the whole thing than I.  But I think we could be Internet friends, at least...).

Like "Auntie Leila," I  have striven to live by the "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without" philosophy, which she often espouses on her blog, throughout my marriage. I've tried to be as thrifty and frugal as possible--to make our home as comfy, warm, and beautiful as I could, even during those early years when I had to do it on a shoestring budget. And then by the time I could have spent more, I was hesitant to do so--because the habit of trying to make what I had work for us, and if not, to find something old and used and in need of a bit of TLC to make it "perfect," was deeply ingrained in me after years of creative housekeeping. 

I am quite lucky, I realize, to enjoy the type of hobbies that go hand-in-hand with my three-pronged vocation: cooking, baking, home decorating, furniture refinishing, painting, drawing, sewing, crafting, reading, and writing, to name a few! I even like to clean.  (Should I be embarrassed to admit that?  My husband calls me the "mad vacker," because I love to vacuum way more than I should.) 

Also, Leila Lawler is the only blogger (other than myself!) whom I've ever seen touting the benefits of wearing an apron to do housework; my boys like to tease me about my apron-wearing.  It's true that I am rarely seen without one during waking hours if I'm in my own house.  By I don't sleep in one, as one of my funny sons has accused.  (I blogged about aprons once upon a time; if you're interested in visiting my archives you can read that post here.)

I have a proverbial wardrobe of aprons, actually.  Holiday-themed ones even.

My Mrs. Clause apron.  (And a darling chocolatey-faced elf!)

Anyway, Leila Lawler is a seamstress.  (See, there's another thing we have in common.  She even said in one post that in spite of being at it for 40 years, she tends to make lots of mistakes and relies heavily on a seam-ripper.  Me, too!  I'm beginning to think we might be twins who were separated at birth!)  After reading some of her old sewing posts, I felt motivated to organize my sewing room for the first time in ages.  In one of the big plastic bins that held some of my fabric stash, I found some fun treasures that I'd almost forgotten about, including a few unfinished projects that I decided I'll have to get to ASAP.  (I'm not getting any younger, you know.  I'll be 66 in July.  If I don't finish them now, then when?!)

I found a patchwork quilt that I began to put together in the late 1970's, while I was still in college (it was for my "hope chest," kind of), and then continued to work on after my husband and I got married in 1980 and started having our sons.  It was made with soft, almost threadbare squares of fabric, taken from old clothing and scraps from craft projects I'd worked on. (BTW, what was I thinking making the squares so small?!  Each is only 5"!)  I'd added some appliquéd hearts, with the names and birthdays of the first two boys on them; the next two sons each have a heart appliqué with their names and birthdates penciled in, but I never got around to embroidering them; and the fifth son never even got a heart on there before I abandoned this quilting project (probably because I was too busy raising said boys, four little guys who were born within a span of four years and three months).  Son #4, the last one represented on this quilt, is 36 now, so it's been more than three decades since I did any work on it!

Finally finishing that decades-old quilt is on my to-do list now.

I also found the top of a baby quilt that was made by my best college friend in 1983, as a gift for our firstborn son.  This quilt originally had batting inside and the layers were hand-tied together with yarn at some of the corners where the rectangular pieces on the front met.  After washing it a number of times, the batting got all lumpy, and I took it apart, planning to put new batting in it and then put it back together, possibly doing some machine quilting, too, so it would hold up better.  But alas, I never got around to it.  My friend had made it before she knew whether we were having a girl or a boy, and it had an awful lot of pink in it.  When we kept having boys, I put it away to save in case we ended up with a daughter, but we never did.  Our oldest son has six girls now, and one boy, and the youngest, a girl, is still a baby.  So I think I'm going to fix it up and pass it on to him for his little one.

How fun!  I had almost forgotten that baby quilt existed!

Another treasure I found was a zip-lock bag with some pre-cut 8" quilt squares in it.

What is special about these squares is that most of them (all but the dark blue, which I must have gotten as a filler) are Laura Ashely fabrics, taken from sheets, pillowcases, and curtains that we used to have in our bedroom. Way back in the early years of our marriage, my mother-in-law (a T J Maxx clearance shopping pro who had no equal!) gifted us a king-sized Laura Ashley puff/bedspread (in the dusty blue with little cream-colored flowers on it).  We had a double bed at the time, but she said we would probably go bigger eventually, and she wanted it to fit.  We had that puff on our double bed for about ten years, before we finally got a king-sized bed in 1993.  By that time, my M-I-L had gifted us sheets (in the coordiating cream with little dusty blue flowers), curtains, pillow shams, and throw pillows in that same pattern.  Then eventually, she got us a new king-sized quilt, in the floral pattern that had some pink in it but was in the same color palette and still went with the curtains from the other pattern we'd had for so long, and a king-sized sheet set (top right fabric square in the picture) to go with it.  

We slept on Laura Ashley bedding for so many years that when we finally made the switch to something different, I wanted to have a little memento of it.  So I'd cut out those squares, intending to make a little throw quilt.  But like so many other projects I'd started over the years, I never got around to sewing those squares together.

Well, guess what I did today?

It's not very big, just a lap quilt.  It just needs a back (I'm not sure I'm even going to do a layer of batting inside).  I'll probably keep it draped over the back of the upholstered arm chair in our room, as a reminder of those early days of our marriage.  And of my beloved mother-in-law as well.

I found some other goodies that had belonged to her--beautiful linen-and-lace napkins, pillowcases, pillow shams, etc. (some bought new on clearance, some vintage, some with lovely embroidery on them, many stained from decades stored in the attic after the house fire at my husband’s childhood home).  And I have projects planned for them as well.  So stay tuned for more sewing talk in the coming weeks, dear readers.

Or not!  I realize that this post might have been boring to many of you. (But perhaps it wouldn't be to Auntie Leila?)


  1. Not boring at all. I just wish I had your talent!!

    1. You have so many other talents that I wish I had. I think you're the most accomplished and capable person in our family, with such an upbeat and positive attitude!! That's why Mom is in the best hands with you. XOXO