Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Little Luxuries

One of the first posts I read by another quilting blogger was Claire Witherspoon's Blog Hop and Going Primitive at Cspoonquilts.  Claire explained that she had recently gone on a non-quilting road trip with her husband.  She wanted to quilt along the way so pared down the supplies she took to her featherweight machine and a bag of flannel scraps, plus a cutting mat, rotary cutter, and iron.  When she forgot the mat, cutter, and iron at a previous stop, she stopped at a store and bought scissors and a tape measure.  She was left to make a quilt with those simplest of tools:  tape measure, scissors, and sewing machine.  (And she did a fine job of it.  The quilts were so fun!)

At about the same time I read Claire's post, a young quilter taught an introductory quilting class to a group other young women at our church.  I was in another area of the large room working on something else when I overheard her telling the women that there were a few supplies that were essential for them to buy before they could make quilts. Her list included a sewing machine, a rotary cutter, an acrylic ruler, and a cutting mat.

I have made quilts since about 1974 (though I can't really call myself a quilter because the ones I've made have been few and far between and until just recently were tied quilts).  The first quilt I made was a Christmas gift for my grandfather.  It was a 9-patch for which I used a 3½" square of cardboard as a pattern and scissors to cut the blocks.  I cut each of the corduroy squares separately and stitched them, two pieces at a time, on my sewing machine.  (It is much-faded now and some of the corduroy has worn smooth after much use and many, many washings.)

I chuckled as I thought about tools that have become essential which in times past would have been luxuries or completely unknown items.  How times change.  My mind wandered back to pre-sewing machine days.  Oh my, what did the ladies do?  Of course they stitched by hand with a needle and thread.  But how did they get their quilts square?  And how long did it take to make a block, let alone make a whole quilt?

And then I thought of this couplet . . .

There, there, Little Luxury, don't you cry.
You'll be a necessity by and by.

. . . and realized how much in my life has moved from luxury to essential.  I remember going to a quilting class at church 25 years ago where the teacher showed how she cut with her rotary cutter and mat.  I wasn't quilting much at the time but what a handy tool!  I was on it the next day, off to the store to see if I could find (and afford) to buy one.

Isn't it amazing how, over time, luxuries become necessities?  What would we do without our sewing machines (and the electricity to run them), our cutting mats, acrylic rulers, and rotary cutters?  For that matter, how could I live without my cell phone these days?

How about you?  Do you own essentials that were once luxuries?



  1. Definitely rotary cutters! I used to get so frustrated that my pieces weren't square hen I cut with scissors, but now I've got a rotary cutter I wouldn't sew without it. And of course my sewing machine - I could never sew by hand, I don't have the time - machines are so much quicker.

    1. Yes, rotary cutters, and sewing machines, and so many other modern tools. I'm sure anything I made before using a rotary cutter didn't have a chance of being square, but then I don't think I owned a square to check! Thanks for stopping by.


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