inheritance
noun | in·her·i·tance | in-ˈher-ə-tən(t)s , -ˈhe-rə-
: the acquisition of a possession, condition, trait, { or skill or knowledge } from past generations

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My grandmother taught me to quilt. It was the summer after college; I was 21, with a fresh journalism degree and no job prospects. While I tried to land on my feet, my grandparents took me in, gave me a bedroom and three meals a day. Between working odd jobs and sending endless applications, I asked my grandmother to teach me to sew. She bought me a pattern, gave me her scrap bins, and together we started a quilt. At the time, I had no idea how that experience would change my life.

For a young woman to learn quilting from her grandmother is to step into a heritage running long and deep through our history. Millions of women have learned this domestic art from their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and friends. Quilting, historically, is a uniquely feminine craft. It offers a means to express oneself, pass the time, form community, make statements, and of course, provide warmth and comfort for our loved ones. It is deeply woven into our past, and is one of the few crafts that has been passed down face to face, for generations.

Through months of careful instruction, my grandmother passed down her knowledge and passion for quilting to me, as absolutely as any physical good. Together we stepped into the ritual as so many women before us had done. We learned; we talked; we sewed together. When she taught me to quilt, she gave me a gift, and we continued the tradition.

The quilts in this book are all inspired by my idea of home — the people and places that make our lives meaningful. They look forward while respecting the past, and they are meant to be made, used and given. Quilters of all skill levels can make these with a few simple tools — a home sewing machine; some fabric and batting; a needle and thread.

For me, quilting was my inheritance, and one I never knew I had until I asked my grandmother to teach me. I believe we’re all entitled to learn this art, to make quilts, and to make them our own. Enjoy the journey and happy sewing.