Our ancestors didn't have many conveniences, but they learned to make do with the materials at hand. I have only recently gotten into the world of quilting, although I was introduced to it as a child by my grandmother. In her day, quilting was a way to utilize fabrics that were left over from making clothing, or even recycling the clothing itself when it had outlived its usefulness. My favorite quilt that she had on her bed was one that was on its third generation of being covered. It had a place on it where the stitching had come loose, and underneath the flap I could see the quilt that had been used as its filler. The most exciting thing, however, was that there was also a loose flap in that same spot on the filler quilt, and under it was the original quilt! That one quilt was actually three, and that was very exciting for a child under the age of 10! We would spend hours going over the patches on the quilt, and she would tell me whose dress or shirt had been made from that fabric. What a lesson in family history!
What handcrafted treasures have been gifted to you from people you love? What heirlooms are in your home that were carefully preserved for future generations? It's amazing the memories an object can evoke. These memories tell a story that no one would ever be able to find online in any database, so it is important that they be written down before they are forgotten and lost to time. My grandmother taught me many things about home crafts, and she was my mentor in teaching me how to use her treadle Singer sewing machine at the tender age of 7, and I've never stopped since.
Take the time to record what you know about such personal things, as this is what makes our progenitors come alive. As you were taught, that person undoubtedly told you about who had taught him/her, and that gives you a window into the past that will never be found on a census record.
Note: This picture is of one ring of my grandmother's effort to make a double wedding ring design. From the technical standpoint, it is inexpertly done, but with regards to the memories it evokes, it's priceless! In many places, it is still possible to read the lettering on the muslin used for the backing that came from flour sacks. The muslin was bleached and then became an important part of the quilt. It is puckered in many places, but thanks to some careful quilting, it just adds to the sentimental value.
Writing a Family History