Suzy’s Fancy

Column #1
By Suzanne Labry

Greetings! My name is Suzanne, but Suzy is how I am known to my family. And since I'm now a part of the big extended family of quilters on the Quilts, Inc. web site, that's the name I'll be going by here. I'll be writing about the traditional side of quilts and quiltmaking, and I hope you'll feel free to pull up a chair—so to speak—at the virtual frame and add a comment, suggest a topic, or ask a question at any time. 

I grew up around quilts. My grandmothers and aunts on both sides and way back were all quilters. My mother died when I was small, but one of my treasures is a baby quilt that she made, so I know she was a quilter as well. I took my first quilting stitches when I was six-years old under the instructing eye of my Grandma Williams and I still have that quilt, too. I wish I could say I've improved a lot since then, but I might as well confess that despite the "quilt gene" coursing through my DNA, I'm a really bad quilter. (I'm the one whose stitches in the friendship quilt get ripped out and redone after I leave the frame. Yep, that one.) 

You'd be hard pressed to find a better quilt appreciator than me, however.  Truth be told, I never met a quilt I didn't like. and that pretty much goes for quilters also. I once chased down a bunch of teenage boys who were using a lovely old appliqué and trapunto quilt to wrap a piece of exercise equipment in the bed of their pickup—I pulled them over and bought the quilt from them on the spot. They looked at me as though they'd just experienced an alien abduction.

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time in rooms where women were working around a quilt frame. Since idle hands were always suspect in that crowd, I was tasked with threading needles. Once, I had several full needles poked into each end of the quilt within easy reach of flying fingers, I'd be allowed to rummage through the scrap bag or the button jar. (No doubt that's where I began to covet fabric. Like any addiction, mine started out innocently enough….) Mostly though, I liked to listen to the quilters talk.  They would tell stories, swap memories, reveal secrets, laugh, even sing sometimes and I loved the rhythm and sound of all of it. There's something about the shared activity of quilting in a group that creates a comfort zone all its own and even back then, I felt lucky to be a part of it.

It was my early experience that prompted me, years ago, to write a book called Texas Quilts, Texas Women, published by Texas A&M University Press. Since then, I've done a lot of writing about quilts and quilters for a variety of publications and I can't imagine better subject matter. I'm looking forward to sharing my love of this wonderful art form (and my admiration for the people who create it) with you.

Weathervane

Weathervane

Here's the quilt made by my grandmother, Pairlee Williams, featuring my first stitches. She let me do this all over the quilt! Can you imagine?"
Photo by Alex Labry

Weathervane

Mexican Rose A picture of the quilt I “rescued” from those two guys in the truck!
Photo by Alex Labry

Weathervane

A “Jacob’s Ladder” (or Suzy’s Fancy) variation made by Kathleen McCrady.
Photo by Alex Labry

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