In quilter-speak, a UFO is an UnFinished Object, something which most quilters have in abundance. This particular UFO is a special one, though, as it was started by my mother in 1947 and is still a work-in-progress.
My mom was only fifteen when she decided on a whim to make a Sunbonnet Sue quilt, based on the one her sister had on her bed. She proceeded to cut 160 little pieces from my grandmother's sewing scraps, and even basted down the edges on many of them before losing interest and packing all of the tiny pieces away.
The truly amazing thing is that my mother (who became an Air Force wife) hung onto all those pieces for nearly fifty years -- through five children and countless moves across the country -- before passing them on to my sister and me. That was in the early 1990's, when I was busy with two small children of my own. Still, I was excited to pick up the project where my mother had left off.
My mother still remembers many of the fabrics used in these Sunbonnet Sue pieces, and from where they came. Scraps from Grandma's aprons, dresses my mother and her sisters wore, feedsacks from the grain elevator that Grandpa's family owned and operated. Here's a photo of my mom, wearing a dress made from the very same red/white striped fabric that Sunbonnet Sue is wearing:
My heirloom UFO is overflowing with sentimental value. My grandmother passed away before I was born, and working with these little scraps of fabric that she handled at one time makes me feel close to her, though we never had the chance to meet in person. And imagining my mom, so young, having this sudden inspiration to make a quilt, gives me a lot of insight into myself and my spontaneous ways!
I've been working on these blocks, off and on, ever since -- and they still aren't finished! These are the blocks I've finished appliqueing so far. I'm over half-way there. My sister and I each received pieces to make eighteen blocks:
So, this UFO is now over 60-years-old -- an unfinished heirloom! But I hope to see the finished product in my (and my mom's) lifetime. My plan is to make two quilts, one for each of my daughters, in hopes that they inspire in them the same feeling of connectedness to generations of women in my family.
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