Saturday, July 20, 2013

Nobody "Gets" The Birdhardts Quilt

Jerry and I had to put the movie room back together this morning.  We had taken down the giant blinds and moved the furniture away from the windows because we were SUPPOSED to get new windows, but Todd ordered the wrong windows, and that will now have to be done later but NOT by Todd and family!

So as I was standing behind Jerry TRYING to help him, but he always says he doesn't need my help, I was staring at The Birdhardts Quilt (our name is "Bernhardt") that I finished in 2006 when I first got my longarm quilting machine.  I was thinking of the day Jerry's daughter walked into the room -- which has happened only ONCE in our 15 years in this house -- and I excitedly showed her the quilt because one block is of HER and two blocks are of HER DAUGHTER -- our granddaughter.

As I was pointing to "her" block and started to explain, she gave it a quick "who the hell cares" look, and walked away.  I choked back tears and tried not to cry.  I spent weeks on the block I did of her as a teacher bird.  She had no idea how much love and time went into every stitch in that quilt, and even though it is not a hobby she is interested in -- and it probably is a stupid quilt -- it is something I am interested in.

WHAT IS WITH KIDS these days!?  She's 40 something now, but still the same.  If the subject isn't about them -- and that one actually was, in part -- they just don't have the slightest interest or ability to pretend interest.  It really hurt me, but so have a lot of other things she has said to me over the years. 

About 4 years ago, Jerry's Mom, Nida, was here.  Jerry's daughter, Jeree, called to talk to her, so I handed the phone to Nida.  She asked Nida how she was doing, and how I was doing.  Then I heard her say, "I just DON'T GET those quilts of hers!"  Ouch! 

My own daughter is much nicer, although I'm sure she thinks most of my quilts are dumpster-filler the minute I'm gone.

ANYWAY, I decided to do a blogpost about The Birdhardts quilt so maybe -- somebody -- somewhere -- might "get" this quilt and appreciate the thousands of hours put into it.  I KNOW it isn't any big deal in the award-winning quilt category by a LONG shot, but it is special to me because it is about my family tree, so to speak.

Here's the story, if you care to read it:

On a day looooooooooong ago, a friend that I had at the time who no longer likes me -- nope, not that one -- a different one -- belonged to a Yahoo Group.  It was called "Quilting Together".  I was NOT quilting at all at the time, but I had been to some classes about 10 years earlier, so I knew about quilting.  I'll do just about anything for a friend, so I decided to join this group with her and participate in one of the activities.  The activity was called "Block Swap".  The idea was that a bunch of women joined.  One woman was the leader.  All the women bought Fall fabrics and chopped them up into six inch squares.  Then you bundled them in a certain number of bundles totalling the number of women in the group.  Then you mailed them to the leader.  The leader mixed up all the bundles, and then she mailed them out to each woman in the group.  You ended up with a million six inch blocks, and you were to make a Fall colored quilt out of them.  You were to add your own ALTERNATE BLOCK which is what the purple ones are.

Here is my finished quilt.  Remember, this was my FIRST project and just squares.  Not even picture-worthy, but a pic is worth a thousand words.

I had some ladies with a longarm machine quilt it for me, and I love it because it jump-started my quilt battery back then.

So after that was all done, I took mine over to my x-friend's house -- or she came here -- and we compared our quilts.  She asked me if I had ever done PAPER PIECING.  I had not.  She asked me if I wanted her to show me how to do it.  I said, "Sure!"  I love to learn new stuff.  We went to her house, and she got out one of the thousands of books she had on quilting, and she copied a little tiny sailboat picture to show me how you do it.  I have that sailboat here somewhere.  Hold on...............  Sorry, can't find it.  I decided I really LIKED paper piecing after making the tiny sailboat, so I joined another activity in the Yahoo Group which just happened to be "Paper Piecing".

The design everyone was piecing and swapping was BIRDHOUSES.

Each lady made so many birdhouse blocks -- sent them to the leader -- the leader passed them all back out -- and you were to make a quilt with them.  The only problem was, not many ladies joined this group, and you ended up with only about 6 birdhouses.  The NEXT problem was, I didn't care for the blocks that came back to me, so I wanted to make more of my own, as I was much more "careful", shall we say, about the stitching of said blocks.

Here are two of the paper-pieced birdhouses I made:

As I was trying to decide how to get ENOUGH birdhouses to make an entire quilt with, I got an idea:

WHAT IF I made birds to LIVE in the birdhouses, and I made one for each member of my family???

Then I had another idea:

WHAT IF I had each of the grandkids draw a "bird picture" for me to digitize, and I could put those in my quilt also?

In those days, my grandkids were down here at our lake house a lot.  They always loved doing the projects I came up with, and they loved this one.  All five grandkids were here once or twice, so I got a drawing from all but one.  He was too little to draw then.

SOOOOOOOOOOO, here's the nitty gritty of this quilt:  I have one drawing from each of 4 grandkids, and I made up an additional block for each kid with their personality in it.

We will start with Boo Bear, the oldest.  He could draw quite well.  The first block was digitized from his drawing of Papa's boat and him fishing in it.  The 2nd one is my interpretation of him at that time.  He was playing football for his High School, and he was number 83.

Next, is his brother, Jacob.  He drew a birdhouse, and he DIGITIZED IT HIMSELF on my embroidery software.  He's the "brains" of the family, but seems to suffer from a lack of common sense right now.  The second picture is of him begging to ride my 4-wheeler as he did constantly.  When we finally DID let him ride it, he ran into trees and fell down hills, and heaven only knows what else!

Next, is their sister, Lindy.  She couldn't have been more than 6 years old.  She drew two pictures. The first two blocks are from her drawings.  The third one is my interpretation of her at the time.  She had a step-sister who was a rodeo rider, and Lindy loved being around her horses.  I don't know WHY I made her look so chubby.  She wasn't at all.

I LOVE the way she put CURTAINS in the window of the birdhouse.  Turns out, at 16, she is quite an artist.  We had no idea.

And then there is Lauren, my darling, and very talented step-granddaughter.  She drew the picture I used for the first block.  She was only 4 years old.  The 2nd block is my interpretation of her at the time.  She spent the weekend with us for the very first time in her life.  I decided to have a hula hoop contest.  She could not use one AT ALL, but that girl HAS TO WIN.  She practiced hour after hour until she finally learned how to do it.

Last, but not least, was the youngest grandson, Walker.  He was only 2 then.  He wanted a dog, but his Mom did NOT want a dog, so she got him this big stuffed dog.  They called him Woofie.

Those are all the grandkid blocks. 

I also made a block for each of our girls.  My daughter was in Cancun with her new husband at the time, and he HATED the fact that she had Bibles.  I decided she should have one on this quilt.  This is Tammy Bird:

And here is Jeree, my step-daughter.  If she knew I was posting this picture, she would probably die of embarrassment, so please don't tell her!  She has no idea I have a blog, and if she did, she wouldn't read it.  Jeree has a degree from Vanderbilt and teaches History and French.  Well, she WAS going to be a teacher, but she worked only a few years.  She hasn't had to work, so she is a SAHM.  She is an amazing Mom, and her kids are wonderful.  Just wish they were in our life.

And I really CAN UNDERSTAND why she would look at this and think that I had lost my last marble.  You HAVE to know the story behind this "Family Tree", and she didn't care to hear it. 

Of course, I had to make a block for Jerry and me.  I also made us our own BRICK birdhouse.  Whenever I ask Jerry if I can go somewhere or do something, his reply is always, "That's Fine Dear".  My sister makes fun of him doing it because he does it so much.  He was building his pond in those days, so he was always knocking trees down and moving rocks around. 

Here we are:

I spent HOURS digitizing those tennis shoes on my feet.  And it is the ONLY time I ever had streaked hair.
I love my purse!  And, yes, his nickname is "Bernsides".  My Mother, however, calls him "Sideburns".  She always has to go against the current.


And as I said, I was just learning how to put a quilt together, and I wasn't well-versed in quilt talk.  I decided all these birds needed a SKY to live in, so I just made the entire background blue.  If I was doing it today, I would have a lot more tricks up my sleeve.

Here is The Birdhardts Quilt:

And I am STILL in my jammies, and I have eaten my SECOND cookie while typing this.  I HAVE to get in the shower, and I HAVE to QUIT eating cookies!!!

Hugs, Joy


  1. Well, my dear Joy Joy, I happen to love that quilt. It always looks so happy hanging on that wall. It looks like it is just full of stories. I know if I were a child I would be making up all sorts of stories about that particular quilt. If I had to choose my favorite block it would be Walker and Woofie.
    Then there is the chicken quilt at FMS. I love that one. It is just gorgeous. Oh, yes and the one on "my" bed. So many of your quilts are just beautiful!

    Missing you!

    Hugs, Phylly

  2. Thank you, Phylly. You know, I have seen only ONE of your quilts, and it is that gorgeous quilt you had hanging on your arm the day I met you. I have that pattern somewhere. I need to find it and make it. Have you made any other quilts???? I don't even know.

    I miss you MORE!

    Hugs, Joy

  3. Joy, I think that was a wonderful story and your quilt is beautiful. It would be nice if our children understood our hobbies or at least our happiness with our hobbies! Cheryl Sharp

  4. Yes, Cheryl, it would be nice. Children are SO DIFFERENT these days. I suppose our parents and grandparents thought the same thing about us though.

    Hugs, Joy

  5. Ok! I've tried to comment about five times now!!! I'm typing on a iPhone with the font size of minus five!

    I'm the "nicer" daughter :-). My mother is crazy! I love her quilts. The bird quilt will never see the inside of a dumpster ever! I had to beg and beg for years to get one of her quilts, now I have two.. One is hanging up on my wall at home.

    My mother is incredibly talented with whatever she sets her mind to. I can guarantee her sewing projects and quilts are done with love, creativity, and perfectionism!

    I like the bird quilt better than the Route 66 quilt. I am officially claiming the bird quilt!

    Mom -forgive misspelling s and grammar. I can't see what I'm writing g it's so tiny ! I blame it all on auto correct! :-)


    1. I hope you can't see the flood of tears on my keyboard spashing up onto the screen.

      Everyone, meet my daughter, Tammy. She is an amazing nurse at the Mercy Heart Hospital, and she is a true blessing to all of her patients. We have different gifts, and sometimes, they clash, but isn't that what "makes the world go "round". How BORING and awful if we were all just alike.

      THANK YOU TJ for saying you won't trash my quilts. You have no idea how much that means to me. (-:

      Sniff, sniff. I miss you so much, Baby Girl!!!

      Much love,

    2. OOPS! Make that "splashing", not "spashing".

  6. Yesterday your pics wouldn't come up for me; today they are and I am impressed. What a great quilt of family history. So sorry about your daughter's reaction. In my life I've not always liked things people made, but I always appreciated the work put into it. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Omg! What an awesome quilt! Will you adopt me?

  8. Loved the stories and the quilt. I was glad to read your daughter's response, been thinking of you all day.

  9. I love that quilt. Your creativeness, talent and love really shows. I am not a quilter....not enough patience! But I am in possession of 2 of my great grandmothers handmade quilts from the good ole days. They were made from old clothing and flour sacks and were necessary and functional in those days. Unfortunately many of the fabrics are disintegrating so I keep them wrapped up in the top of the closet to preserve them as much as possible....why?...I don't know. I just appreciate the time, effort and love that went into them. Great granny passed away in the early 70's when I was in high school. So, yeah, I get it.

  10. Dear Joy, You are an inspiration to many. Not just in the sewing world but also in real life. Your work is so special because it comes from your huge loving heart. Tammy is a gem. I wish I was closer to you but it is just as well because I would probably drive you nuts. I am about 1250 miles north of Kingston. Loving your videos. Met you through SFD. Bless you and your family.


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Hugs, Joy