Creative Moms & Daughters

by Liesl Russell



Meet Linda Hutchings, mother of Heather Bailey


1. What kinds of creative projects do you enjoy doing? When did you start doing them?

 If I had a criminal rap sheet as long as my list of creative interests, I would be in Sing Sing (or for my love of sewing is that Sing Singer?). Here's my list: knitting, crocheting, smocking, patchwork quilting, cake decorating, embroidery, table settings, bed ensembles, blessing gowns, prom dresses, children's parties, beading, pillows, draperies, appliqué, giant bean bags, Halloween costumes, crib ensembles, baptismal dresses, sewing, hammock ensembles, denim picnic/camping sets, slip covers for patio furniture, painted posters, creative writing, sequined jackets, map bags and pillows for the car, dog clips (the "lion" is my favorite), home-ground- whole-wheat bread and more sewing.


I first became involved when I was seven years old. My mother encouraged me to embroider what looked like chicken scratches on pillowcases. My first project on the sewing machine was to hem tea towels, which resulted in puckers worthy of persimmons. Soon she taught me to knit and to crochet. We tied quilts as well. My grandmother made crafts with rattan and particularly appalling children's stools out of large tomato-juice cans which were joined into flowerets of fabric and tied with twine. Each squat down was heralded with tinny clacking. Her depression-era creativity was an inspiration; however, her treadle sewing machine was possessed by an evil spirit. But I loved that I could make things, too.


2. How did you first get involved in the creative process?

Long before seventh-grade sewing classes in school, I was sewing my own clothes, mostly because I was unwilling to go around as Lady Godiva-which befitted our finances. Though very slim at 5 feet 81/2 inches tall, I was a giant in those days. Store-bought clothes made me look like Frankenstein with sleeves and pants that were too short. I needed the extra length that I added to my home-sewn clothing so I didn't have to live in the bushes by the pond.


3. Where do you create?

I first worked on the kitchen table, but I soon realized that I could carry projects with me and work on them as a passenger in the car, in the back of classrooms if I could hunker down enough and in any location where I had to wait. A particularly uninspired dentist was unnerved by my efforts to crochet while he filled my teeth.


4. How has your style of creative projects changed over the years?

I began cake decorating as a young mother so that my four kids would have spectacular cakes to destroy. When word got out about my birthday cakes, I was asked to decorate wedding cakes. The thoughts of a cake dropping in the entrance doors to a reception freaked me out so badly that I put brakes on the cakes. I soon discovered quilting. No more messy kitchens, no more works of art destroyed in 10 minutes, rather an object that would last for decades and make me, well, immortal. My name and message on the quilt labels meant in a time, far, far away, someone might wonder who Linda Hutchings was. When I gave my first quilt as a gift, I was rewarded with high-pitched delight and tears of gratitude. No one had wept like that over Matthew's pirate cake with the windblown Jolly Roger. The thrill of that response to my first quilt still motivates me.


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