Blog Tour/Giveaway: Crafting a Meaningful Home by Meg Mateo Ilasco

Crafting a Meaningful Home by Meg Mateo Ilasco
STC Craft, 2010

Now, this is a bit of a departure for this all-fabric, all-the-time blog, but I am such a fan of Meg Mateo Ilasco‘s work, including her paper and textile goods and her previous books Craft, Inc. and Creative, Inc. that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to host a stop on the blog tour for her brand-new book Crafting a Meaningful Home. The 27 projects, by Mateo Ilasco and scores of modern art/craft/design luminary contributors, are not only about “telling stories, holding memories, and celebrating family heritage,” as the subtitle suggests, but about making things together with the people you love. So it’s just about the most perfect gift you can give to a crafter you love. And don’t worry, in the mix of craft techniques found throughout the books, there are plenty of inspiring fabric-based projects — my favorites include Cathy Callahan‘s Vintage Fabric Display and Samantha Hahn‘s Family Banner.

Meg graciously agreed to introduce the book to True Up readers and tell us a bit about the textile traditions in her own family …

When we were kids my mother, like many in her generation, was an avid sewer and crafter. She sewed some of our clothes, made baby quilts as gifts, crocheted doilies, and knotted macrame planters. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of an appreciation for it growing up. I didn’t think of handmade as “special,” rather I regarded it as something people did when they couldn’t afford to buy things. Of course, my perception changed as I got older. Now I wish I had spent more time behind a sewing machine with my mom than trying to convince her to buy things at the mall. Hind sight is always 20/20.

As I was selecting the projects for Crafting a Meaningful Home, I talked with contributors who hailed from the similar upbringings; raised by mothers who sewed. The sewing projects, like Sian Keegan’s Braided Rag Vessels (her lineage of braided rag makers), Rae Dunn’s Patchwork Coverlet (a memorial piece made from her father’s shirts), Joanna Mendicino’s Modern Norens (a tribute to her Japanese heritage), and Billie and Tootie’s Family Teepee (showing their love for the outdoors and made from a vintage quilt) — show how craft and sewing made an impression on them growing up and continue to be an important and nostalgic part of their lives as adults today.


If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Crafting a Meaningful Home courtesy STC Craft, just leave a comment on this post telling us about one of your textile heirlooms or traditions. The comments will close and a winner will be drawn randomly next Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010.

Thank you so much, Meg!

Follow the rest of the tour:

December 9: Not Martha

December 10: Papercakes Finds

December 13: Uppercase

December 14: Dwell

December 16: Craftzine

December 17: You Are Here

December 20: ReadyMade

December 20: Oh Joy!

December 21: CasaSugar

December 22: Anthology Magazine blog


  1. Crystal King says:

    My mother sewed clothes for us and herself, as well as toys like a sock doll with an embroidered face. She sewed lots of different things, I imagine, because sewing something new and challenging is the most interesting type of project. I share that tendency myself.

    My strongest memory of my mother’s sewing when I was a child was playing with her fabric scraps. We would make elaborate costumes, kerchiefs, scarves, pillows, and eye patches. We have photos of me at six or so and my four year old brother completely draped and tied with lime green rayon. The scraps we played with were the beginning of a lifelong passion for me.

  2. My grandmother taught me to sew. Her machine was in front of the dry bar in their 1970′s modern paneled basement complete with Colonial-styled furniture. I can still smell the place (it’s a good smell). I can hear the hum of her machine, which was the equivalent of a Cadillac (whereas mine is the equivalent of a Honda, and so goes the rest of my life…). I learned by sewing from her stash of 1950′s-70′s patterns and her fabrics from all the years of her life, all tucked away neatly in a drawer nearby. I marveled at her vast array of thread colors and notions all so organized. She had a huge cutting table in the room around the other side of the basement with a peg board with scissors and rulers and other handy tools hung with an outline drawn around them so we’d know where to put them back on the wall. Now that I think about it, after so many years, it was an amazing space and I think it’s really my dream to have something quite like it (including the dry bar!).

  3. Alex says:

    I have a framed embroidery piece my mother made when I was a toddler. It is such a treasured heirloom! She taught me to sew, and I treasure my memories of her sitting with needle in hand.

  4. Tong says:

    my grandmother used to sew clothes for me when i was little, and i remember always sitting on top of the quilts that she was hand quilting. unfortunately i didn’t pick up sewing from her when she was alive, i discovered it on my own quite a few years after she had passed away, and even quite a few years after she was well enough to sew. i intend to make sewing and quilting a tradition for my daughters and sons, and their daughters and sons, and i will tell them how when i was a little girl, my grandmother used to sew clothes for me, and how i used always sit on top of the quilts that she was hand quilting.

  5. Em says:

    *gasp* I do not have any textilx heirlooms or traditions. Perhaps I will make my own NEW tradition with my daughters. Will have to think on this …

  6. Nancy says:

    My grandmother was a quilter & I have one of her well worn, but beautiful feedsack quilts.

  7. jodi meenan says:

    I recently inherited a gorgeous Irish linen tablecloth from my mom who passed away a year ago, and I will cherish it forever! It’s very old and in remarkable condition. Thanks for the chance and for introducing me to this book and author!

  8. Erin says:

    My last name is Mercer (“dealer in textiles”) so I believe my love for fabric is inevitable! I especially love collecting traditional fabrics wherever I travel (though, there’s not much to show… yet!)

  9. kara rane says:

    I have memories of sleeping beneath my mom’s sewing table as she worked. I wish now I had paid more attention.
    She is such an expert at all crafts and sewing. I am learning now as an adult from her. Hopefully, I get a sewing lesson the next time I visit.
    Thanks mom*

  10. Meghan says:

    I don’t have one… yet. I plan to make a king size quilt at one point for my husband and me… which i’d love to pass on to our kids and so on!

  11. Tanya says:

    This is almost like a reverse legacy. My mother used to dress my brother and I in homemade matching outfits- he was 15 months older than me and would have a ‘pant suit’ where I would have a skirt suit. I love dressing my children in clothes I make and they joyfully wear them, but I have never ever made them anything ‘matching’!

  12. faith says:

    Although my mom sewed some of her clothes and skirts for us when I was younger, it wasn’t something I appreciated until more recently. I hope my children will have lots of handmade goodness surrounding their childhood memories.

  13. anna says:

    My mom used to sew my costums for Fasching/ carnival when I was in kindergarden. I was dressed as the sun or as the easter bunny (in February ;-D)
    befor Christmas, she made me write my wish list and put it together with a stuffed animal in front of a window, the next morning it was gone, traveling to Santa Claus. A weak befor christmas, my teddy was back from his journey (sitting one morning again in my room) and as a gift he hed gotten a tiny bag back my mom made out of leather scraps or a new vest or some other accessory

  14. michaela says:

    What a fabulous idea for a book!

    I am lucky to have makers on both sides of my family tree. And one of my most treasured possessions is an apron – slightly tattered – that my great-grandmother made for herself. It has some lovely detail work… and it was hers. I need to get it out of the closet and actually use it!

  15. Amy says:

    No matter how much I’ve been trying to declutter annd live more simply, I can not seem to get rid of the multiple acrylic crocheted and knitted blankets that were made by hand by both my grandmothers and my husband’s grandmother. They are not my preferred colors or materials, but they seem to matter more than simply my taste.

  16. C. Schnuelle says:

    My grandmother was a quilter and I loved playing in her box of quilt scraps. When she passed away last year, I spent much time and tears going through her boxes of fabric scraps.

  17. Brenda says:

    When I was in the 8th grade, I won a sewing machine from a local store. My dad went with me to collect it, and, seeing that I was soooo excited, he paid to get an upgraded machine for me. I sewed on that machine for many years, making my own clothes and doing alterations for the rest of the family. My dad asked me to teach him to sew and he used the machine from time to time. I went on to become an upholsterer and he remained interested in my sewing. When he died last December, I remembered the time we spent at the sewing machine.

  18. Sadie Fox says:

    I have a few of my grandmother’s aprons from the 50′s. I love them and use them everyday.

  19. Oh where to begin? So many lovely crafting memories from my childhood! One of my favorite activities as a child was sitting by the woodstove with my little brother. We would sew scraps (that our Mom had crocheted together into long strips) into rugs while our Mom read chapter books to us. It was so cozy and our imagination painted vivid pictures in our minds while Mom read.

  20. Since my family came here from Cuba in the ’60′s, I don’t really have many heirlooms. The one piece of material that is truly special to me is my grandmother’s favorite silk robe. I remember her wearing it whenever I slept over at her house. Now that she’s passed away, I keep it in my closet and enjoy seeing it every single day.

  21. elsa says:

    I have quite a few textile heirlooms but my favorite is a quilt made by my Great Grandmother, Lucille. I never had a chance to meet her. She was quite a prolific sewer, quilter and crocheter. The quilt in question is one with red stars, done with a white back ground and red binding. All done by hand, not a machine stitch in sight!
    My mother was an excellent sewer but it was my Dad who taught me how to sew on a rather old Singer sewing machine when I was about 8. Really got into making my own clothes at about 10 (we didn’t have much money and I wanted to be different, even at 10).
    Thanks so much for the giveaway!

  22. Melissa K says:

    I can picture my mom sewing as far back as I have memories. As a teenager I was a very frustrated (and frustrating!), perfectionistic student who focused on her mistakes never caught the bug. I made a few things, but I hated every minute of it.

    Earlier this year–almost 25 years later–I finally decided to stop being afraid of sewing and try a few things. I didn’t just catch the bug; it’s a full-on fever!

    My mom gave me her Montgomery Ward sewing machine years ago when she upgraded, so as I create, I hear the same whir that I remember growing up. And I can almost thread that thing with my eyes closed. ;)

  23. Chelsea says:

    My mum, grandmother, and great aunt were all avid stitchers who indoctrinated me into the cult early on! Needlepoint, embroidery, knitting, and quilting, I’ve always had a needle in my fingers. One of my favorite heirlooms is a quilt my mum started and that I’ve continued to work on, a paper pieced hexagon quilt using mostly Liberty lawns. I’m not sure I’ll ever finish it, but I love pulling it out ever so often to look at all those lovely fabrics!

  24. Mary P says:

    My mom sewed a lot of my clothes when I was little. As I got older and she took up quilting, I learned along with her (I was 10 at the time). As she made more quilts, she made seasonal quilts so that there was always a quilt on the wall in the dining room that reflected the season. It’s a great way to mark time in our family (time for the 4th of July quilt!). She also made quilts from our old jeans and I still use my jean quilt to this day.

  25. Amber says:

    I have lots of handmade dolls that my Great-Grandmother made out of felt – and some of my father’s baby clothes!

  26. Jenny says:

    my first quilt was made from the scraps leftover from the clothing my mom made for my sisters and me as kids. i really wish i had the chance to make that quilt again…at 14, and learning by trial and error, it is not a quilt that i would use now…but i still love it…and all the memories.

  27. Carmen says:

    My grandma lived in a mobile home on our farm so I have the most wonderful memories of her teaching me to sew. My love of the craft began with her. She also taught me to knit, which, sadly, I have forgotten how.

  28. WandaFish says:

    I have a treasured patchwork eiderdown cover that used to be on my grandma’s guest bed in the room that my parents stayed in when I was a child and later where I slept myself when visiting. I spent many happy hours sewing, knitting and cooking with my grandma :)

  29. LisaT says:

    I have a handful of crocheted Christmas ornaments that my mother made when I was a child. My tradition is to place them on the tree last as they are my most treasured ornaments.

  30. Bronwyn says:

    I have a very simple baby’s blanket knitted by my Nanna, which warmed my children often, and a large crocheted blanket made by my other Nanna, which we use often on our holidays – I love these things because I can feel my Nannas’ hugs within them.

  31. Julie R says:

    I love and cherish the baby sweaters and hats my grandmother and great-grandmother made for me. Now both of my daughters have worn these cute things and I think it’s wonderful to have them! My grandmother has also made quilts and wall hangings for special events like graduations, weddings, and each great-grandchild’s birth. They are treasures!

  32. Raele says:

    Growing up, my father was a very busy electrician, but I knew he used to sew before I was born. My father, not my mother. I thought this was so neat and unusual, and I still think it is somewhat unusual in the average household. His mother, a Southern half-American Indian, half-black woman, taught him how to sew as a boy. She used to “magically” sew dressy outfits for my sister and I, on her old treadle machine.
    For a long time, I cherished a simple sleeveless red and white gingham shirt my father had made long ago, with embroidered clown patches sewn on the pockets. After decades, it fell to pieces, but I saved the clown patches to remember the shirt. Now, only this last year, I’ve moved south to what seems the DisneyWorld of artsy crafters (Austin, Texas), and finally learned to sew myself. It has changed my life, adding another dimension of value and meaning. I am still holding on to those clowns, waiting for inspiration to strike and make them a new hand-crafted home.

  33. SewLindaAnn says:

    There were none handed down. That is one of the reasons I’m making quilts for my son to keep and hand down as well as other hand made items from me.

  34. goosie says:

    My grandmother taught me how to knit, crochet, and sew. I have so many memories of clothes that she made me and have the great fortune to have several afghans that she crocheted for me. My first quilt was made for her and is now used and cherished by my son because, sadly, my grandmother died last year.

  35. Munaiba says:

    I have two hand embroidered Afternoon Tea Table Cloths. One made my late mother and one by my Aunt. You can see them here if you’d like:

  36. Bridget says:

    I have little in the way of heirlooms from my own family, but love collecting once-treasured items from others. Blankets, quilts, fabric scraps – all given up, now beloved.

  37. A TdelaP says:

    When I was a baby, my mother made me several interactive books out of fabric scraps and recycled wood. Each page has a different scene in which to hide a small doll or on which you can Velcro a fabric mouse. They are getting old, but I hope to share them with my children (or make new ones).

  38. Marcia W. says:

    We have several textile heirlooms in the family. I have a quilt made by my maternal great grandmother – red/white/blue all hand stitched with thick lumpy batting. Also have a quilt made by my paternal great aunt – also hand pieced from the 1930s. My great aunt selected this quilt especially for me and had my name “as heir” penciled on a paper pinned to it. My mother has a quilt inherited from my father and made my paternal great grandmother right before she died – early teens LeMoyne star 4 inch blocks – all handpieced/quilted. It is perfect. My late father was immensely proud of this quilt. All are special to us. We also have a worn double wedding ring quilt that was once exceptionally beautiful and is all handstitched. My mother loves it because my father bought it on an impulse for her shortly after my birth. We used it all the time when growing up. Thank you for the opportunity to walk down memory lane.

  39. Kshoo Design says:

    Some of my fondest memories are when my mother made my brother and I a dress and a tuxedo for a friends wedding. I remerber feeling like a little princess with my little handbag. She would also sew baby clothes for my dolls and stuffed animals.

  40. MelodyJ says:

    I have a blanket my grandmother made me. I got it after she died. My mom said my grandma was going to give it me herself years before but become too ill. I look this blanket.


  41. sarah says:

    I made handbags for all the ladies in my family for Christmas and lined them with fabric from my grandmother’s stash that I got when she passed away.

  42. Patty says:

    My grandmother taught me how to sew when I was very young. She let me pull out the pins right before they got to the presser foot. She had a big, heavy sewing machine that I have now.

  43. loralie says:

    When I was in grade school, my aunt made a quilt from a kit. It was machine applique w/embroidery on it. She paid me to do the embroidery. When she passed away, my cousin gave me the quilt. I keep it on the bed in the guest room & think fondly of my aunt whenever I look at it.

  44. Deannaq says:

    My grandmother was a home ec. teacher and taught me to sew. My dad’s mother made quilts and hand-quilted them I remember playing under the quilts looking up at the quilts. They have handed down a love of sewing and fabric to me and my sisters.

  45. Jo says:

    I have a beautiful dress that my Mum made me to wear to my Aunty’s wedding when I was about four. It is very treasured, the lace it very sweet. I must check if it will fit my daughter this summer. I’m loving continuing this family tradition and am teaching my kids too. Thanks.

  46. Leisa Rich says:

    While I was in the hospital for deafness during 1963 and 1964, my mother made me wonderful Barbie doll clothes from her well-used and loved work suits and fancy 60′s party dresses, and she also knit sweaters for Ken and made him pants from my Dad’s old clothes. Dressing and playing with Barbie and Ken helped the long hours I spent in silence in the hospital pass in a fun way. That experience led to a lifelong passion for fabrics, texture, fashion and hand crafted things. I have been a serious fiber artist and art teacher for 35 years. I am still re-creating the comfortable coccoon I experienced while playing with those satin, lacey, nubbly Barbie outfits so long ago, with fabrics, stitch and more…and I never play music, but always work in silence.

  47. Melissa says:

    My grandmother always made us super warm, cute slippers to wear when we were visiting at her house. Every Christmas we’d spend with her my brothers and I would be running around in our slippers all day. The slippers stayed at her house so it was always a treat to get to wear them. No one knows what happened to the slippers after she passed away. We’ve looked, but we just couldn’t find them. :(

  48. Scrapiana says:

    Lovely book. Thanks for signposting.

  49. shanna boatler says:

    my mom used to sew clothes for me. i vividly remember the matching vest and knickers outfit that had my initials ironed on the vest. i was sooo proud, many pictures of me in this outfit. i also remember playing with the pattern paper.
    i’ve been lucky enough to acquire handsewn quilts from my husband’s great-grandmother. they are really beautiful and i wish i knew more about the story behind them. one quilt, i do know, she used her husband’s old pants as squares on the quilt.

  50. I make a quilt for every niece and nephew and my kids when they’re born. Another tradition that my husband did was they had a fabric advent calendar and I made one for our home our first year of marriage.