Chapter 7: The BamaSteelMagnolia’s Diaries: My Sew – Sew Life or The Spool Block

Well, it’s a new year. It’s so very hard to believe yet another year has rolled around and I’m a year older – a year I wasn’t particularly looking forward “turning”. But, then again, there’s a lot of thing worse than the birthday I just had – like being forced to watch a marathon of Honey Boo Boo. Perish the thought…

I’m not one to make resolutions, but one thing I do want to do is move forward on my diary quilt, so I thought I’d start the new year off with a new block.

This chapter is dedicated to the spool block. Look for the piecing diagram and rotary cutting directions below. The block in a 6 inch machine pieced block. All the blocks in the quilt are 6 inches.

Spool Block

My Spool Block

I come from a long line of women who were handy with the needle. They were seamstresses if you would like to call them that.

When doing genealogy research I came upon a census from the early 1900s that had enumerated my great-grand aunt, my grandfather’s sister. In the census her occupation was enumerated as “seamstress”.

I knew Aunt Eliza made quilts, I have a couple of her quilts and an unfinished quilt top we would call “scappy”. My take away from the census discovery was Aunt Eliza was proud enough of her work to list it on a federal census record as her occupation.

Who says women couldn’t or didn’t feel empowered “back then”?

I remember my Aunt Eliza. She and my Aunt Ruth, her sister, were both forces to be reckoned with, and they both adored my daddy, their nephew. They were strong, God fearing mountain women – and, excellent role models for a young lass who was about to grow up in a brave new world. They were a bridge from my past to my future – a reminder of where I come from.

Aunt Eliza was also an example one shouldn’t become too self conscience of “body image”. She was almost as round as she was tall when she was older, but she had a spark plug personality and men loved her. I can’t tell you how many husbands she outlived.

My momma’s side of the family had their fair share of “seamstresses”, also. It was actually my great-grandmother Becky Shafer McGee who was the driving inspiration who lead me down my quilting road.

Becky was part German and part Irish or Scotch-Irish. I don’t know if there was anything she couldn’t do good. She could cook, make homemade sauerkraut – the REAL way – in a barrel in the ground, garden, she was the midwife of her county, and she raise a passel of kids who in turn had a passel of kids.

Becky made a quilt for each one of those grandkids and it was my Momma’s quilt that made me vow to myself years ago when I saw it, “I’m going to do that someday when I grow up”.

And, I did.

Becky lived to be almost 100 and sometimes I wonder if she knew what kind of an influence she was on her family.

Another strong woman giving love and empowering her family.

My maternal grandmother sewed some – mostly she did alterations in the family’s clothing business. My beloved Aunt Larue sewed and of course my Momma sewed. Somewhere I have enough Sun Bonnet Sues to start a small city and most of them are clothed with the scraps left over from dresses Mom made me or my sister when we were girls.

So, it comes down to me…

I’ll have to admit when I was a teen I didn’t know if the “sewing” thing would catch on. When I was in Junior High or middle school as they called it now, I took home ec. One section was built around sewing. It wasn’t the most inspired lesson in the world and didn’t leave me with a burning desire to become the next tailor extraordinaire.

But, it did get me familiar with sewing. Over the ensuing years I made an A-line skirt here, a vest there and so on. And then, my sewing fell into the Dark Ages of nothingness.

Finally something came along that sparked that interest again. It might have been the bicentennial in 1976. That was the year quilting saw a revival in the USA. It might have been the fact we moved next door to an older couple who would become surrogate grandparents to me – Herman and Lola Lovelady were their names.

Mrs. Lovelady lived to sew and through her gentle tutelage I began doing fun stuff like making pillows with the counted cross stitch I was creating. Lovelady had sparkly blues and she was quick in a quiet way. She had you doing things before you knew what hit you. She was a refugee of human kindness and encouragement. Everyone should have a Lovelady in their life.

By 1986 I took the plunge and made my first quilt. Ever since, quilting has been in my life. Some times it’s been quiet, sometimes its been eventful, other times it’s been crazy. I’ve been a quilt show judge, started a quilt guild, published a guild newsletter, sat on the board of a state at-large guild, won ribbons, taught quilting, taught my ex-husband to quilt and taught my current husband to quilt – which I have to say has been one of my biggest joys. This is a man who started college as an art major before switching majors and he needed an artistic outlet.

Quilting has given me comfort, entertainment, challenge and fulfillment. I have branched out and tried other things – using my serger for table linens, something I would have never done if I’d never quilted. Quilting has meant a lot of things to me – it is part of who I am, maybe even my DNA which shouldn’t be surprising given the women in  my life.

So, I guess you could say quilting has given me a sew – sew life in the very best of ways – and the spool block represents that in my diary quilt.

spool block piecing diagram

Piecing Diagram for 6” Spool Block


Rotary Cutting Diagram for spool block

Rotary Cutting Directions for 6” Spool Block – 1/4” seam allowance is included

© 2014 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.


2 thoughts on “Chapter 7: The BamaSteelMagnolia’s Diaries: My Sew – Sew Life or The Spool Block

  1. Bev this is a wonderfully delightful reminisence of how you got started quilting, your past history and what inspired you. I loved taking this journey back in time with you and love the quilt pattern. I was familiar with the spool, though I’ve never quilted other than started a square pieced top by hand or tied a quilt. You are a true inspiration to others and there is certainly DNA in play with your talents. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Marlayne, I’m so happy you enjoyed Chap. 7 and the spool block. It looks like a hard block to make, but it’s really a simple block to make.

      I’ve had a lot of good strong women in my life who influenced me in many ways. One way was quilting. I felt they had a place in me diary quilt and “book”.

      Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by – you my friend are a true inspiration.

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