Grandma’s Aprons and Doilies Come Together in an Heirloom Collage

My grandmother not only taught me to sew–she taught me that sewing was good for me.  Like her, I’m always happiest with a project (or two) close by.


So this “Busy Hands” pillow cover is a fitting tribute for my grandmother and teacher.

I stitched it together as a thank you for my aunt, who sent me a box of Granny’s handiwork last year.

What a thoughtful gift!

My goal was to use as many bits and pieces of my grandmother’s fabrics and embroidery as possible in the piece.  I started with one of her crocheted–edge hankies.


I quilted it to backing fabric in a green and brown print, (a reclaimed fabric sample).  Once I had my plain canvas (her hankie) , I began to cut up grandma’s handwork and try different ideas.

People always ask me–“How can you cut that?”

Easy.  In the world of vintage fabrics it’s use it or lose it.  Pack grandma’s aprons away in chest, closet or box and they’ll eventually dry rot.  I’d much rather adapt them to enjoy NOW.  Fabric collage is the perfect vehicle.


All the pieces are anchored in place with parallel rows of straight stitches first.  Then I cover raw edges with a tightly spaced machine zig-zag (aka satin) stitch.

Finally, I used my machine to write the words, busy hands.  I’m not good at free motion, so I use little stitches and lots of pivots over light chalk or pencil guide lines.   An additional loop of  decorative brown stitches ending in an appliqued needle ties it all together.

One more step:  ALWAYS label your family heirlooms.  If the story is lost, so is the value.  And you wouldn’t want grandma’s heirlooms to end up at Goodwill–



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