Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Pincushion Story

This is the pincushion story.  A very average looking pincushion, it is
part of my life history and means so much to me.
Back in 1973,  I was 12 years old.  My Dad was serving in the military, and we
moved from Okinawa, Japan, to Minot, North Dakota.  We lived at  the military
base there in North Dakota, and not long after, a new family moved in two doors down.  There was
a daughter around my age that I became friends with.  That is another story, but for
now, the story is about my friendship with her mother named Barbara.  Barbara
made this pincushion for me all those years ago, and I still have it, use it and think
of her every single time I see it.  It is full of beautiful memories for me.

Barbara had seven children, so she had nine mouths to feed (really 10, because I
was at their house for a lot of meals).  Anyway, she sewed a lot, because she had  to
save wherever she could.  Money was tight with all those children.  She also cooked in
bulk and recycled everything, long before it was fashionable to do so.  I  still  blame her
for some of my hoarding--ummm  (recycling) tendancies.....

Barbara loved to make quilts, but she could sew other things too.    She  patiently taught  me how to trace a square on an old cereal box  to make a pattern for a patchwork block.  There was no such thing as a mat or
a rotary cutter.  We sat for hours and traced each block around our cardboard square, then cut
them all out.  Then we sewed each square together to make our quilts.  She also showed
me how to do gathers, buttonholes, and make clothes. It was early on that  she gave
me the gift of this pincushion.   It has been with me ever since, from North Dakota, to Oklahoma, to California,  Texas, and now here with me in Queensland, Australia.

We  met in 1973, and our friendship went strong till around 2000.   Somehow, life kept us together for most of that time, and we
lived near each other in 3 states:  North Dakota,  Oklahoma, California.

There was a place in the garment district of Los Angeles, California that we visited together often, and I don't think it was called the  "pound store", but that was our name for it.  We would spend hours there,
picking out LOTS of fabric,  much of it straight from the manufacturers.   We would carefully balance our pile of treasures to be weighed, because that is how we paid for the fabric.  To this day, I still have fabric from there in my stash.
At the time, we didn't know how to machine quilt.  We were both very prolific quilters though.    We made lots of quilts between us, and we helped each other when it came time to put them together.  We used to crawl around on our knees for hours doing the basting, then we tied the corner of each square with dmc floss or yarn.
Sadly, I lost contact with her some years ago, I think around 2000.   I hope to find her someday again.  Teaching me how to make quilts turned out to be her  lifelong gift to me.  Whenever I see that
little pincushion,  I remember her too.  


  1. Such a lovely story. You were so lucky to have Barbara in your life -hope you do get the chance to meet up again.

  2. Hi Debbie and welcome to blogging... that is really such a lovely history to your pincushion, I do hope that you are able to get back in contact with Barbara. I have a little needlebook a made when I was about 11 or 12, that i still use, forlorn as it is... I look forward to popping back to see your FNSI efforts, some time over the weekend... Anthea x

    1. Hi, Thanks for your reply. I've had a look at your blog, and we like a lot of the same things. I've actually been to Perth, did a coastal road trip from there down to Peaceful Bay and Albany. Very happy memories. debbie

  3. I absolutely loved reading your story of your pincushion and of Bstbara. I really hope you find her again. Technology these days is so good for information - maybe it can help you find her. Welcome to blogging! You are going to love it!

    1. Thank you so much, Teresa. Nice to meet you. debbie


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