Monday, September 13, 2010

Swim, bike, quilt....

Today Katie from Swim, Bike, Quilt has a great story rich in the history of WWII.  I just loved reading the details of this story, as our grandfathers served as I'm sure many of yours did too.  Make sure to check out her cute blog and her great pics on flickr!
Ten years ago, I wrote my senior college thesis on a group of amazing women in Salt Lake City, Utah. During World War II, these women, known as the Salt Lake Minute Women, organized their neighborhoods and communities in preservation and conservation activities in support of the war effort.  One of their rallying cries was, "Save 'em, Wash 'em, Clean 'em, Squash 'em, referring to salvaging tin cans specifically. Did you know, for example, that women across the country salvaged waste paper, nylon and silk hosiery, scrap rubber, metal, and even kitchen fat to be transformed into needed commodities, at home and abroad?  They would hip today, as I found story after story of women repurposing garments and items during the war.  Somewhat related, I specifically remember women telling me they would draw lines on the back of their legs with eyeliner to mimic stockings when theirs ran out. Utah, incidentally, was the first state in the nation to completely organize its efforts--more than 13,000 women and children were officially registered in the effort. I was surprised to learn, among other things, that salvaged kitchen fat could be used in manufacturing nitroglycerine for anti-aircraft shells, alkyd resin paint for tanks, and dynamite. 


I think about those women, every once in a while. I am always interested in women's history--I was interested in quilts as material culture long before I actually started quilting.  While doing research, I  was thrilled to find that my own great grandmother was the Minute Women leader of her small Utah community. She was also a quilter.


Last December, my sister in law gave me her leftover reproduction fabric for a 30s quilt that is on the list, but not yet started. Inspired by this quilt, this week I pulled Sam's scraps and different shades of white  from the bin, and this mini quilt was the result.  Many of the Salt Lake Minute Women were undoubtedly quilters, due to the prevalence of quilting in Utah during that time.  The dates are a little off, but I can imagine that not a few of them pulled out their scraps from the previous decade to make something useful, or lovely, during the war. I think I am going to hang this mini-quilt (about 18 inches square) above my sewing machine.

6 comments:

John'aLee said...

I especially loved 'this' story, seeing I live in a small Utah town. (Panguitch). I hadn't heard this one before. So thanks for sharing.
Darling little quilt.

onlymehere said...

I grew up in Utah until I was 12 years old and never knew this existed. I moved back to Utah at 18 and have been here ever since. I have to tell you of a crazy thing in our family. My son is on a mission for our church and earlier this month he did a service project at Pearl Harbor where the worked and served aboard the USS Missouri. He asked in a letter if I realized how HUGE this was. I made this comment to his gpa, my husband's father, and he said, "yes, I can!" It seems that 65 years earlier my FIL was on a boat off the coast of Japan that sailed by the USS Missouri while the Japanese officials were aboard signing the surrender papers ending the war! It's crazy that 65 years later almost to the day my son, his grandson, was aboard the same ship serving and readying it for a commemoration of the signing of those same papers. WWII fascinates me. I think there is much we can learn from it and today I learned one more from your blog!
Cindy

Stray Stitches said...

Thanks for sharing!

grammajill said...

Some of us had fathers who went away to war, and mothers who worked in ammunition factories. We do need to remember how much our people helped and participated in the war efforts so long ago.
Thanks!

grammajill said...

Some of us had fathers who went away to war, and mothers who worked in ammunition factories. We do need to remember how much our people helped and participated in the war efforts so long ago.
Thanks!

Kate said...

Thanks for the comments and stories. You often hear the stories of soldiers, male and female, during WWII. You also hear some about women who worked in factories, although less so. I loved researching women who pulled together "on the homefront" and contributed to the cause in so many ways, some unexpected. Thanks for featuring my quilt and its story today.