Beulah, a friend of ours from upper Wisconsin, is a very talented seamstress and a woman with a BIG heart! She is still employed sewing dental uniforms from her home at the age of 79. Her boss knowing of her charity work donates remnants from the business to her for use in her charity work. She is a master recycler/repurposer using the fabric from discarded (good) clothing, old blankets, etc to make some of her beautiful donations. Beulah has industrial machines she uses for the uniforms so is able to sew with denims, corduroys and other heavy fabric to make durable quilts, diaper bags, totes, etc. One of her specialties is fleece lined mittens that are much needed on the reservation.
In addition to her sewing skills Beulah also knits, crochets and looms socks, hats, mittens, scarves, toys, baby items and anything else we ask her to do. She joins squares for afghans, lapghans and baby blankets sent to her from members of the Yahoo groups “Pine Ridge Elders” and “Pine Ridge Babies” of which she is a member too. She makes “penny rugs” and quilts for her annual church fundraiser and has made many special quilts (hand quilted no less!) for her children and grandchildren. Sew For Kids is so fortunate that Beulah still has some time left in her day to do special things for us, but we would like to know when she sleeps! Did I mention she bakes all her own bread, rolls, buns, cookies, sews her son’s flannel shirts and knits their winter socks? Whew!!! What a gal!!
Beulah’s latest creations are two interactive quilts, an “I Spy” quilt and an alphabet/number quilt for the Rez children. When asked how she made them she answered, “Found most of the fabric in my stash although a few pieces came from the remnant bin at Walmart which I check regularly. Got the idea of putting the “I Spy” blocks on the first row of the quilt from my DIL who is a teacher for the local Headstart program. Flannel is my fabric of choice for the backing as it makes a much warmer quilt and they’re finished up by tying with bright, colorful yarn. I try to avoid scary or ugly prints and definitely no owls as for some , owls are a sign of death in Lakota culture. Have to arrange patches in some orderly fashion, can’t just pull them out of a bag and sew together at random as some folks do”. When asked about her alphabet/number quilts she replied, “Will definitely be looking for alphabet and numbers preprinted fabric on my next WalMart trip to cut down the time on making those.”
We are trying to develop interactive toys and activities for kids to be used in their homes or at an activity center. Check out the links on the pattern page for ideas for learning quilts or toys and share your ideas. Personally I think these quilts would be a great Christmas gift accompanied by a book for children in the Wanblee community where we are focusing our efforts. The quilt would not only provide warmth and something to cuddle with but also give learning opportunities for children by identifying letters, numbers, shapes, or objects.
Thanks Beulah for generously sharing your time and talent with us. We hope Beulah’s story will inspire you to create a “learning” quilt for the kids of Pine Ridge, I know she certainly inspires us!