Friday, June 28, 2019

Desire to Inspire - June Challenger - Meet Kara Benavides

Meet Kara Benavides- She took on the challenge of using "Snow Days” by Barb Tourtillotte in the month of June 2019.
My name is Kara Benavides and I accepted the June Desire to Inspire Challenge.  I had great fun working with these fabrics and hope you enjoy seeing what I came up with.  But first I am supposed to talk about me. 

I was born in Orlando, Florida; back when I-436 was still a 2-lane with sandy pull-offs.  We lived in an orange grove, next to a lake with alligators that came up on the lawn, occasionally.  My very active parents would water ski off the dock and then return by skiing up onto the sandy beach so that the gators wouldn’t bite.  I learned to ski the same way. 

Florida was fun, but my roots are back in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee and Griffin, Georgia.  My “Grandmommy” was an avid quilter.  None of us know when she found time though, as she worked as a sewer in a men’s suit factory, raised 3 kids and a huge vegetable garden every year, chickens and cows. And going through the fabric up in the attic with Grandmommy; that was the best of all. I got the bug from her. When Grandmommy and I went upstairs to “go pick out a few things”, the others soon learned that we might be gone a while.  I had Grandmommy all to myself with all that fabric that, really, only she and I wanted.  She gave me oodles of fabric pieces.  These scraggily bits were what enabled me to learn on my own how to sew.  My parents bought me an old sewing machine and a few tools.  Set me up in the basement and let me go.  And they encouraged me. 

I started by learning to sew a little doll quilt by hand.  I can still see the pink, blue, and flowered squares of polyester.  (Hey!  This is a waste not, want not family.)  That was when I was about 7-9 years old.  Once we moved to the polar north, (from tropical Florida to the middle of Michigan in December!  What were my parents thinking?) I started making my own clothes.  I remember the first tailored jacket I made.  My mom and I fought with those inset shoulders but could not get them smooth.  My grandmother was visiting (and bringing us warm blankets if I remember correctly) and helped get that black baby corduroy to behave.  I wore that for a long time.

My other grandmother knew how to sew also.  I can still remember her “turning the collar” on my dad’s dress shirts.  I have a “start” of a crazy quilt from her mother.  It is precious to me.

Skip ahead a few years.  While my friends were watching boys at the ball field, I was making huge stuffed bears out of faux fur and wrap around skirts and shirts with ruffles (the 80’s).  I wasn’t the only one who brought their sewing machine with them when I had to spend one semester of college at a hospital in Florida.  There was one other collegiate.  Then came the dark years – sarcasm, kind of.  I worked as an RN for several decades before all that outdoor activity (getting various diseases from tick bites and jammed vertebra and wobbly knees from other adventures) caught up with me.  Not much sewing time.  But I have proof, from all the scraps, of all the outfits I made for my kids.
Now is important.  I am kind of/not really getting used to the label of “disabled”.  I have hung up my stethoscope.  I put away my cougar mapping (almost a Biology major – that Organic Chemistry!).  And I have rediscovered my love for sewing.  And what I have discovered, is that it is the fabric that I love the most.  I love the feel, the way it is made, the colors, the designs, the SKUs.  I feel like I am going to die if I can’t find every SKU in a line.  And I love it.   I am “sewing up a storm,”  trying to get a bunch of quilts and other stuff made so that I can supplement our income and help pay back school loans. 

My grandmother knew how to use pieces from old clothes to make gorgeous quilts.  She also knew how to take new ideas and apply them.  She made me a quilt that was “done on the machine” back in the early 80’s.  It took me decades to realize that she wouldn’t mind if I did the same.  But I do like to quilt by hand too.  My last project, the log cabin quilt, is not complete yet.  I plan to do some “long stitch” quilting around the edges and do some emphasis quilting around the panel characters when my thumb decides to behave.
My mother helped me make the wall/door hanging. She says the “sewing gene” skipped a generation. But crafting together is something almost everyone in my family loves to do.  We take turns choosing what we Nothing is off the books.  There are some really interesting knitted cats out there.  And those crinkle paper angels, hmmm.  Hope you enjoy seeing the bowl cozies, the tray (my favorite, and easiest), the two-sided table topper, the wall/door hanger (needs some bells yet, and the stars and snow glitter glow in the dark), and the quilt with a high pile dusky blue fleece backing.  I have no idea when or why I bought that fleece.  But it looks great now.

Did I mention my grandmother?  She died from Alzheimer’s dx a number of years back.  It feels like yesterday.  Before she was no longer safe to stay at her beloved home, she made one more blouse.  It was out of polyester, but you rarely see such workmanship.  I thought the inside was prettier than the outside, the way she finished the seams, the darts, the interfacing.  Her fingers were very deformed by this time and she told me that this blouse would be the last thing she made.  She wasn’t being dramatic.  She just wanted me to take her “stash” because she knew I was the only one who would want it.  That blouse hangs on a wall in my sewing room now.  It reminds me daily how much a person can do if they just go ahead and try. My grandmother inspires me.   Who do you inspire?

Snow Days Quilt #1

Snow Days Quilt #2


Joanna said...

Very sweet projects you created; love what looks like a candle mat. It's a cute collection.

MaryAnne said...

Great Grandma! Great story, and great work!

Unknown said...

Congratulations neighbor! I'm proud to reside next to a celebrity. You do such beautiful amazing artwork.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Great family story, nice projects. I collect vintage sewing machines because my grandmother only sewed on a treadle (I started with treadles). She also had Alzheimer's, as did my grandfather and father.

Brandy said...

Fun projects! I love the tray, how did you attach the fabric Kara? I also like the take on the log cabin, such a great way to use the small panel pieces.

Bear Creek Quilting Company said...

Wonderful inspiring projects. Great job Kara!