Grandma’s Legacy

I’ve been fortunate to receive a few pieces of my grandmother’s fine hand work. Not necessarily things I would make for myself, they are nonetheless, a treasured legacy from a woman who influenced me deeply. Hilda Elizabeth Packer Preston lived with my family for 10 years — my ages 3 – 13 — and it was at her knee that I gained a true appreciation for working with needle and thread. Her mantra was, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” I took out a lot of clumsy stitches along the way to gaining the skills that I use today.

Many of the things she left were stored carelessly and became water damaged. I received a few of these damaged pieces from my cousin. I have been working at conserving them one by one. Not one to store things simply for the sake of having them, I find ways to bring them to life and use. Here is an embroidery piece that I turned into a pillow.

And in my quilt Hellebore, Hellebore, Ginkgo, Daisy (My homage to John Singer Sargent) the daisy panel is more of Grandma’s hand work.

I recently pulled out this piece of her embroidery and put it on my design wall. It measures roughly 22″ x 20″. For now, I’m just enjoying having it with me while I work in my studio.

One day it will have a new purpose. I know Grandma would approve.

8 replies
  1. franki martin
    franki martin says:

    This is so awesome, Aunt Franki, to see the work that I, too, grew up with coming into a new life! (Great) Gramma Preston would truly be proud and humbled! I have been inspired by these sweet pieces too over the years. love it!

  2. Darcey Peters
    Darcey Peters says:

    Your Gramma did beautiful work. You have inspired me with a few new ideas for the antique linens I have been collecting for some time. I have been keeping them with various projects in mind, but I hadn’t thought of a pillow.

  3. Aileyn Ecob
    Aileyn Ecob says:

    Franki, I loved your comments about learning to sew from your grandmother, and its pretty obvious that she had much to teach. So nice to have these lovely memories of her out where you can see and enjoy them, rather than packed way! Aileyn

  4. maureenc
    maureenc says:

    Only yesterday I finally got around to pulling out a tablecloth that is at least 80 years old. No, not worked by a relative, but purchased from Singapore, I think, by my father.
    At the moment the cloth is soaking in Fiesta laundry soak. I thought the sea-grass fabric had rust stains, but now I think that the starch my mother used to keep the fabric crisp has been the problem and caused the “browning.” Embroideries done by my husband’s grandmother are still safely stored waiting for me to find the courage to rebuild them!
    By the way, I look forward to seeing what beauty you revamp those gorgeous Forget-me-not blossoms into a new piece to commemorate your Gramma.

    • Franki Kohler
      Franki Kohler says:

      Good luck with the restoration work, Maureen. Cleaning is always the first step in the series for that job.
      I’ll be able to reveal the piece done this week.

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