Saturday, February 2, 2019

Quilters Through The Generations - Debra Anderson

Between Christmas and the New Year there were several quilting groups that had mentions of families that were full of quilters.  

Debra Anderson bravely stepped forward when I saw here comment about her, her sister, cousin and mom being quilters.  She kindly responded to my private message and happily shared her answers to my questions. Here is some tidbits of information that she shared... 

I am officially NOT retired. I do not go to a job but I am pretty busy with family and home. I worked early on in our 37 year marriage but once we started having children, I felt my priority should be my children. I think it paid off, I have 3 kids who are professionals and are doing well in the world, for the most part.

Over the years, I volunteered my time with my kids' classes, field trips, then I worked with foreign exchange students as a mediator. I also volunteered in our church with many youth activities. And, I have volunteered in classrooms helping teen moms finish their education, as an encourager, a go-to person for needs for their babies, helping them find homes if they were abused, which, believe it or not is quite common.

Because of various family needs and my own health, I had to cut back on a lot of the things I was doing. I currently sing and/or play keyboard with our church Worship Team. I sew, I garden, I sit with my grandchildren or assist my husband's elderly parents. As my family says, I'm not one to just sit idly. I have a hard time just sitting, if I do for some reason, like to hand sew, I fall asleep. 

Have YOU ever made a quilt?  

Yes, several​.  I had an interest in sewing when I was quite young. 

I think I got my first sewing machine for Christmas when I was like 6-7yrs old! It was a Little Sister, I think it was called. Electric, chain stitched. I designed Barbie clothes and "hand bags". The neighbor ladies taught me how to crochet. I made several ponchos and afghans, before I was even in Jr High School. I used to take my yarn and needle and work on my stuff during study hall.

I came into quilting as a seamstress. I sewed my children's outfits and I made window coverings and various home items. Even hunting coats. I wore my Kenmore sewing machine out. I tried a quilt in a day, and said, nope, not doing it. I even worked in a fabric store part time when my kids were elementary aged, and I even put my foot down then. When my kids got older, they didn't want homemade things, so I didn't sew much during their teen years. But I did make dresses for weddings and I taught young ladies how to read patterns and sew. Two of those girls launched Etsy shops and made aprons and such to put themselves through pharmacy school!! 

Who got you started quilting?  

About the time my oldest granddaughter was 3, 2012, an older friend at church approached me about "helping out" at a quilt day she was teaching. She gave me the pattern and said I could make one too, but mainly was interested in me helping young ladies set up their machines. (I had also been teaching teens how to sew at this time too. And, teaching young moms how to preserve and can foods. Lost arts.) 

I was still reluctant.   

As a self-professed ADD type, keeping track of a box of scraps that are supposed to go together was just not something I could do. I kind of like some order to chaos. 

I'm truly grateful that cutting mats, cutters and rulers came into existence as I am kind of a perfectionist and I just could not abide with wonky hand sewing of tiny pieces! I've been a craft type person for most of my life. 

But in the end I was hooked!

I gave the quilt from the quilting day to my granddaughter, for her 3rd birthday. It has Disney Princesses in the hidden blocks. She loved it, still has it, she’s 9. I made 3 more. 

Does your mother quilt? 

My mom, Pat Yarber, is a quilter and this is her first quilt, made with our clothes. 

She started this quilt with the help of my Great Grandmother, Florence Yarber, when I was about 9. 

The fabrics are a combo of polyester, cotton and wovens. Our Easter Dresses are in this quilt! (received this quilt when I was about 33!)

Above is a picture showing detail of the hand-quilting my mom did on this gem. 

In 2017, my cousin's mom died. She was quite a prolific quilter. My cousin had her mom's stash and her own. Upon her death, my cousin sent us her mom's fabric. 

In 2018, my cousin and I discussed doing a family quilt. Originally a Round Robin, but my daughter was getting married that year and my mom wanted to make my daughter a quilt, with our help. My daughter doesn't like "scrappy" quilts, she's distracted by the busyness. 

So I came up with a pattern, ordered fabric, cut it into packets and shipped them off, with specific instructions on how big the blocks were to be finished at each stage, so things would "line up" when I put them all together. The quilt went together extremely fast considering how many of us worked on it. The angles lined up nicely, which is not always the case when working with other Quilters. You know, that 1/4" foot is so different on each machine!! I was pretty demanding that each square be exactly like my sample. Exactly. It paid off. 

After that was done, we determined to do an actual Round Robin. A little more interesting and somewhat challenging for all of us.

The 4 of us live in different states. My mom Tennessee, My Cousin, Dallas, TX, My sis, started out in Virginia ended up in Delaware. I live in Oregon.

Round Robin, my mom's work is the center, my cousin did a round and I did the last round with black purple and white with migrating geese. 

My cousin's Round Robin, hers is the center, I added a couple of rounds

My Round Robin. I have no idea what it looks like currently. 

How about a grand-mother?  Great-grandmother? ​

My mom’s mom didn’t want to have anything to do with sewing, she had a bit of an attitude about sewing. 

My dad’s grandmother, Florence Minor Yarber (pictured at the right), was quite a prolific quilter, although upon her death, many of her quilts “disappeared”. I have one that’s pretty tattered, but I love it.

The Lemoyne Star quilt shown below was made by my Great Grandmother, made sometime in the 30s or 40s out of my pawpaws jammies and whatever scraps she could come up with. She was a prolific quilter but this is the only quilt I received. I used to lay on it as a child when we visited them, on those hot muggy Tennessee days. 

Below you can see the quilting detail from the back of this quilt...
(it looks like a Baptist fan)

Have YOU taught someone to quilt?  

I have taught many people to sew, but not actual quilt construction. I have given my sister, Maureen Saufley, tutorials via text message on how to do certain things to do with quilting. I referred her to Missouri Star Quilt company many times.

How many quilts have you made? 

So, here I am today with several quilts (about 15) under my belt. Most of them gifted. I have saved a couple for myself. 

This Wizard's Chess quilt is among my favorites...

This is another one of my favorites from a kit, I kinda messed it up, (didn't read directions too well), so the black around the center is my adaptation. The kit is from 2015, Craftsy, I believe it is called Amish Stars.

What was it about the quilting class that got you "hooked"?

The class rekindled my desire to create meaningful gifts for my family and friends. When my kids grew up, I got rid of a lot of my fabrics and started on other paths, but the class reminded me that I still had some crafting left in me. However, after recently going to the Houston Quilt Expo, I see I have a long way to go in this quilting journey. And, one day, I might actually enjoy hand piecing and hand quilting my quilts like my aunt, cousin, mom and great grandma, which are getting to be lost arts. I kind of like constructing by machine, it goes faster. 

What is your favorite part of quilting?  

I love color. Sewing to me is much like painting or drawing, which I also enjoy doing. I love the artistry, the complexity and just the challenge of putting various colors and designs together. It's exhilarating to have the points and angles line up. While I'm my own worst critic, I find that sewing the quilts helps me and my "perfectionistic" tendencies. I am better able to stay motivated to "get it right" rather than be frustrated when things don't go together well. I am beginning to dabble in free motion quilting. Currently, I'm in the process of convincing my husband that I really NEED a special sewing machine, just for FMQ. 

Do you have a suggestion for a winning argument for her to convince her husband that she needs a machine for FMQ?  

Leave a comment... I'm sure she would love some support!

Quilt Happy!


All photos included in this blog were provided by the featured quilter and used with their permission.

Melva Loves Scraps - Home of the Quilters Through The Generations series


  1. Keep dragging him to the sewing center "just to look" at machines and sooner or later he'll break down and get you what you want because then he'll know you won't bother him anymore. Usually works-Haha. Breakem down and wearem out

  2. Your quilts are beautiful. The round robins sound like a fun family activity, especially as you are spread out across the country.

  3. Buy a book of free motion designs and show him how beautiful and exciting the designs are. Explain to him how much excitment the free motion desisgns with add to the quilts and most of all - how happy the machine will make you. Good luck! Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Wonderful quilt story! Find a store that you can rent time on your desired machine to learn the machine. Have a small quilt top ready to go with you. Many shops who sell machines would jump at the chance for a customer to test drive in hopes of selling a unit. That would also help you decide whether you really want to go in that direction or not. Hubby may decide it's cheaper to invest in the machine than to shell out rent.

  5. Thank you for this bio. The quilts are very interesting, and I really love the one from the great-grandmother.