Block Blog Giveaway Week#4

This is a Double Patch block made by Betsy Alderman Lewis for week #4 of Sew, O'Susannah's Big Block Giveaway.

This is a Double Patch block made by Betsy Alderman Lewis for week #4 of Sew, O’Susannah’s Big Block Giveaway.

Seeing that I am the co-writer of this blog, I guess I need to write my own post. 🙂 So let me introduce myself.

My name is Betsy Alderman Lewis, and as stated, I help Sue out with the Sew, O’Susannah! blog. It’s a labor of love, I can tell you. Sue and I have known each other most of our lives, having grown up in the same town and also being friends with her two sisters, Jane and Margaret. They were sort of the sisters I never had growing up.

I am the daughter of a professional quilter named Betty Alderman. Betty died a year and a half ago but before she did, she had a successful quilt pattern business called, Betty Alderman Designs. Just before she died, I took the business over and am injecting some new life and designs into it. That being said, you would think I am an amazing quilter like she was. Well, I can tell you that isn’t the case.

It’s difficult for me to talk about my life as a quilter without mentioning my life with my mom. I made my first quilt when I was about 13 or 14 years old. It was the early 1970s and I remember sitting at a table in my bedroom, drawing not too accurate squares from a cardboard template on a lot of polyester fabric. It was a simple patchwork of many colored squares. I backed it with a pale yellow sheet and turned it to the front for a binding. I loved that quilt. It was perfect for curling up under on a bed on the porch at our cottage. That’s what that quilt reminds me of – a delightful childhood spent on a bluff on the water.

I made a couple of baby quilts before I was 20 but then didn’t quilt again for a very long time. Meanwhile, my mother, became an amazing quilter. Did I share in her efforts and knowledge – not especially. I was a young mother with a family, working full-time and we weren’t even living in the same state. So, unfortunately, all her knowledge didn’t exactly rub off on me. But she always shared with me – her accomplishments and her friendships.

Fast forward to the 1990s and my parents ended up moving to a house kitty corner from mine. Her pattern business was doing very well and I would often help sending orders out if my parents were out of town (they worked from their basement). As, at that time, technical writing was what I did for a living, mom often had me proof her directions and patterns so I gained an understanding of how the patterns were created. I also got to see what she was working on. I, along with my children AND my husband assisted in stuffing patterns. Anyone who has done this can attest to the monotony of it. But it was good family time. My daughter said it was the first job she had. I think she got paid a few cents for every pattern she stuffed. Now that I am stuffing patterns, my husband doesn’t want anything to do with that part, which I find amusing.

Mom and I collaborated on a booklet of patterns in 1997 called, “A Century of Sunbonnets.” It was a huge success selling thousands of copies. I was hooked but I still wasn’t quilting.

The thing is, as I now venture into designing patterns on a close to full time basis, I realize how much I learned from my mom. I realize I know more about sewing than I thought I did and I know quite a bit about the business side of things as my parents shared a lot of that knowledge with me and of which I had to learn to help them out when they were traveling.

Am I a great quilter? Not yet. But I can tell you that I am striving toward a level that I saw in my mom. I only wish she was still here so I could ask her the bizillion questions that I have. Her voice does sometimes come to me and it is usually in a, “Betsy, rip it out and start over,” or “Be careful with that! You’re going to cut your fingers off!” She took the rotary cutter away from me the first time I used it.

Anyway, enjoy this Double Patch block. I love the fabrics Sue gave me. The alphabet fabric is super cute and I LOVE green and LOVE polka dots – an awesome combination for me.

Enter the Blog Block Giveaway through our Rafflecopter giveaway. Don’t forget to comment on the post.  We’ll be giving away all 12 blocks on May 1, 2014!

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15 thoughts on “Block Blog Giveaway Week#4

  1. Cute fabric, Betsy. Just took a class making nine patches with 1″ square pieces. Bet your squares are bigger than that! Good job, Betsy. Love the block pattern.

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  2. Thanks, Karen! I don’t think those squares are much bigger than 1″. They were tinier than what I would probably use but I do love how it looks. I think I cut one of the strips a little shy so it’s not perfect – but are they ever? -Betsy

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  3. Hi Betsy, here is a story for you…
    I read your post with interest as I recently bought one of your mum’s patterns, a teapot design. I love teapots and I’m always drinking tea. I have a collection of fine tea cups and a few pots and decided I really needed another teapot quilt. I left my other one in Australia when I moved over here. So I got the pattern and began to think about what to do with it… Then it came to me. I recently went back to Aus for a holiday and while there I visited the Patchwork store in Berrima, NSW. They had a lovely range of fabrics in Australian florals. So I bought up big and brought them home. Then I kept thinking and just last week I was in an antique store and found some lovely old placemats with a suitable lace design. So I am almost ready to start making this quilt, adding my own bits and pieces to it as I go. And so I am combining two of my favorite things, patchwork quilting and Tea!
    Thank you for sharing your story of your mum, it was an interesting read.
    I have a photo of the fabric and pattern, but I can’t see how to attach it.
    Kindly, Rosemary.

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    • Rosemary – this is a wonderful story and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that you shared it. Mom loved teapots and so do I. I seem to be drawn to them and I’m not sure why. Mom loved, and I still do, pretty china. I think “adding your own bits and pieces” is what makes your work your own. It seems I also have a minor addiction to trim. Do you? If you can figure out how to share your photos I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like to see those Australian floral fabrics. I’ll try to figure it out, too, and post any solutions I find. Australia looks like such a beautiful country and the people are so kind. Perhaps one day I will get there. Maybe Sue can plan a group tour to Australia. Wouldn’t that be fun? -Betsy

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  4. Thank you for sharing. What a joy that you got time to spend with your mom to share her joys instead of discovering things in the attic after she pasted. I am in such awe of all of you – your ventures and journeys — what wonderful talent we have in our own backyard!! I believe your block would make a beautiful center piece for my Mother-in-Law.

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    • Thanks, Ellen! I do feel very blessed to have had my mom in my life. If you make the block we would love to see it. I’ve tried to figure out a way for all of you to post pictures but I haven’t got it done yet. I see apps for it but can’t figure out where to add it on the blog! I’m adding it to my to-do list. 🙂

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  5. My best friend is having a baby and has a letter themed nursery. This would be cute to finish into a quilt or to put on a dresser.

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