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. My favorite textile-related heirloom was a queen-size quilt that was given to me by my first husband’s stepmother. Her grandmother was an Illinois farmwoman who pieced it from feedsacks and handquilted it. It had a lovely pinks and yellows and I had it hanging in my studio for many years. Now that I am learning to quilt, I wish I had taken more photos of it before I gave it back!

  2. My Baba was an extraordinary cross-stitcher. Like most women of her generation and culture, cross stitch was how she spent the winter. We have piles of her stuff, but not nearly close to all that was available (thanks to an evil aunt who literally stole it to sell it), so the pieces we have are very precious. When I first started quilting she was still alive and it meant the world to be that she appreciated what I could do. If only she could see me now!

  3. Betsy says:

    My crafting tradition is to always make one of my dc’s Christmas presents.

  4. Ana T. says:

    Oh my… I totally saw myself in that 1st paragraph.And like Meg, I wish I’d spent more time with my mother next to the sewing machine and learning how to crochet.

    I just found out your blog and I’ll be taking a tour in tour posts.

  5. allison b. says:

    I sleep under a wonderful vintage feedsack quilt that my Granny made for me and use the patterns for inspiration in my letterpress designs. She passed on the love of handmade and a feedsack fabric addiction!

  6. Gillian says:

    Our family doesn’t have any so I am starting new ones….. keeping all the handmade clothing that I make for my daughter and storing them so that she may use them for her children when she has them.

  7. courtney says:

    For my best friend’s wedding, she had 11 bridesmaids. A few months before the wedding, I created a questionnaire and e-mailed it to the women. It included questions about their likes/dislikes, hobbies, shared memories with the bride, etc. After each bridesmaid provided answers and each sent one piece of fabric/item of clothing that they’d worn (thankfully, everyone readily obliged), I created 11 story quilt squares to represent each one of the bridesmaids (and included a piece of their “special” fabric. Each square was super funky and colorful; I used a lot of applique and free hand embroidery. In the center (the 12th square), I placed a square with the bride and groom’s names, the wedding date and a “cake topper” applique. The quilt is still hanging in their bedroom 9 years later and their daughter always ask her mom to tell her stories about each of the squares and the women that they represent. It was well worth the time to create such a rich gift that continues to give to the next generation, too.

  8. Melissa says:

    My Grandmother was like my mother being as I was raised by my Dad. Unfortunately, I didn’t sew with her, although she did give me a few lessons in simple handsewing; I found my passion for fabric and sewing shortly after she passed. The only family heirloom item I have is a baby afghan my Nana crocheted for my Dad when he was an infant, it was used through all four of her boys, myself and my two daughters… it is still in excellent condition. As for me, I’ve started my own heirloom sort-of by making small quilts for both of my young daughters, in hopes that they will have something to pass to their children and grandchildren.

  9. Lucie says:

    My Christmas tradition is to make some sock monkeys. They cheer me up and my loved ones.
    Thanks for great giveaway!

  10. Catherine says:

    I love my Grandma’s feedsack dish towels. They are so cheerful and bright, I always feel better after looking at them. Looks like a fun book–I love the tipi. Thanks!

  11. This looks like a wonderful book! Here’s hoping.

  12. Marcia W. says:

    Favorite family hierloom is the quilt my mother inherited from my late father – completed by his grandmother right before she died (in her early thirties) in an auto accident. It is all hand pieced and quilted 4 inch LeMoyne stars. Thanks for the giveaway.

  13. shannon says:

    i don’t know that you could call what i have heirlooms, but to me, they are just that. like another poster, i just can’t seem to get rid of the blankets that my paternal grandmother knitted for me when i was a child. i also have my baby futon that i used to lay on as a baby. my mom and i changed the cover, had it cleaned and used them for each of my 3 children.

    i have very precious memories of my mom sewing for me. i remember us going to the fabric store and picking out fabric together. i remember her teaching me about the pattern books and patterns. i loved the skirts and dresses my mom sewed for me, but oh, i was such a pill when it came to her fitting the outfits on me when she was sewing them. i would always complain and have fits if a pin touched me. now my daughter does the same! ha ha ha! my mom sewed my sister and me clothes (it was cheaper to do that back then), book bags (out of denim), ballet costumes, and yes, barbie doll clothes…our barbies always had the unique, one of kind clothes because of my mom! :) i remember her sewing pin cushions for fundraisers as well as stuffed bears and christmas ornaments. i just love my mom.

    i have to say, my most “precious” heirloom that i still have from my mom’s sewing days is a little pouch for my jacks. hot pink canvas on the outside, lined with gingham on the inside, yellow drawstring, and the best, a golf ball, jacks, and my name hand stitched on the outside. and yes, inside i still have a golf ball, my jacks, and a tiny red ball.

  14. Jyotsna says:

    My family textile heirlooms are starting with the things I make- although I still have some gorgeous outfits that my mom appliqued/embriodered for me.

  15. Erin says:

    While there are not any heirlooms lying around my house, there is a lot of nostalgia in crafting for me, having spent a lot of time learning to sew with my mother and to knit with my mother in law. I can’t wait to create these moments with my son and daughter as they grow older.

  16. Grace says:

    I have just completed a patchwork blanket my late grandmother started but didn’t finish before she passed away more than 15 years ago. Her fabric stash and cut out triangles and other pieces had been stored in a box in my aunt’s home, and I got them as a gift after I learned to sew recently. That’s my fabric heirloom, which I’m giving to my aunt at Christmas.

    Happy holidays!

  17. Ellen says:

    Just found your site. I am totally fabric obsessed and just discovered Tammis Keefe. Yes, I’ve been living under a rock. Loving the Miller reproductions. they are what got me researching her and how I found your wonderful blog. Thanks for info on her. I’ve loved her work forever without knowing who she was.

  18. diane says:

    I started sewing when I was a teenager on my moms 1940s Brother sewing machine. I still have it and use it. It always brings back the memories.
    I see so many high school girls who want to learn to sew, but don’t know where to start. This summer, I am going to lead a sewing workshop for the drama/costume department to get them seeded into making their own costumes for their productions.
    I might even bring in the Brother.

  19. MzTallulah says:

    I can sympathize with Meg, my grandma was a super sewer but I never bothered to learn (luckily, I at least learnt crochet from my other grandma). Now I’ve fallen in love with textiles and yarns, and have to figure it all out by myself, with books, the net, and my trusty seam ripper. I did inherit grandma’s sewing basket though, with all her tools and lots of buttons, all of which I love to use in my own sewing now.

  20. grace says:

    my textile tradition is to do a one year baby quilt with hand embroidery. it’s time intensive and makes me think about why i do it and all the well wishes i want it to incorporate. i love doing it!

  21. Sue says:

    I have an old family cross-stitch sampler hanging my sewing room dated June 1842. Also, my mother made me a beautiful Christening gown when I was a baby in England, which has been worn by various family members over the years. I was especially happy when my newest granddaughter was able to wear it at her Christening this past November in the USA. The lace is very fragile, as it hasn’t been stored very well in the past but I’m hoping to keep it safe for at least another generation.

  22. We don’t have any traditions, but, my mom bought a little sewing machine for me one Christmas. I made doll clothes with it and little household items like drawstring bags (with shoelaces as the strings). When she came to visit this Thanksgiving, I saw one of the bags I made in her suitcase! I was happy that she was still using it after all these years! If there is a tradition, it could be the Christmas stockings that I made last year. My husband liked them so much that we leave them up over the fireplace all year long!

  23. Jessica says:

    Every new baby in our family gets a baby quilt just for them. Not very original, but in a family of hand-me-downs, it’s kind of special. We all treasure our baby blankets! Mine was lacy and blue, my son’s is green, brown, and gold.

  24. Paula says:

    Some great looking ideas! Thank you for the giveaway and happy holidays!

  25. Laurel says:

    My grandmother made amazing Christmas ornaments from fabric scraps and old jewelry. I love this time of year when I can pull out that box and go through them – they’ve been a constant holiday presence for my entire life.

  26. aimee says:

    My grandma would knit these little snowmen for us around Christmas time (okay, it’s yarn, not fabric, but close enough!). She still makes them for my sister & aunt’s first grade classes, and they love them as much as we used to!

  27. Ann says:

    My father’s stepmother took blocks that were pieced by my mother’s mother and made them into a beautiful quilt for me. She took the old-fashioned feedsack blocks and made them into a beautiful, modern, vibrant, glowing quilt. The love of stitching pretty much skipped a generation, as my mom was not a big sewer, but we did make a bargello needlepoint bench cushion together. So far my daughter is not real interesting in sewing, but she took a mixed media class with Judy Coates Perez at Festival last summer in Long Beach and loved it, so there is hope!

  28. michelle says:

    The women in my family sewed – home dec and clothing but never quilts. When I was in my early 20s, I had such a yen to learn “how” to quilt. I took a class and have been quilting ever since. And now, I’ve inspired my mother, my sister and two of my aunts – quilting has now entered our family in a big way, and that start of a tradition, is a blessed thing.

  29. Lisa P. says:

    My most cherished possession is a queen sized cathedral window quilt my mom made. She started it when she was in high school and I found it as a kid and asked her to finish it for me. She worked on it on and off as I grew up and my beds kept getting larger (which meant she had to add to it). It has a piece of her wedding dress, clothes my brother and sister and I wore as kids and so much more. She and her side of the family have inspired my own love of making things and my hope to learn to make “everything” (or at least lots of things).

  30. jenn says:

    it’s beautiful!

  31. jane says:

    what a fabulous book! i am loving the teepee!!!

  32. Jennifer says:

    Many years ago my grandmother made toys and sold them. My son sleeps with a beanbag frog she sewed and stuffed. Until he was born, I kept that little frog on our guest bed to greet all comers. He’s a charmer, and reminds me of an important piece of my heritage as a sewist and crafter. I also have quilts made by grandmothers on both sides (husband’s and my own) and crocheted afghans. I am loved!

  33. Sarah says:

    I have to say, I’ve generated most of the fabric heirlooms in my family! My mother is an accomplished needlepointer and I do have a couple of her works of art. I also have fond memories of the dresses she made me when I was little.

  34. ariane says:

    My grandmother was a crafter. She taught me to knit. My mom, not so much. She always jokes that this passion skipped a generation. :)

  35. Monica Lee says:

    oh is it too late to enter? I grew up with s sewing mother and sat at her feet while she sewed my clothing and my bedroom decor! She did it to save money and now I think of her as a true artist!

  36. Jenny G. says:

    My gram was a sewer and knitter (and a stitcher and stained glass maker). She taught me how to sew on a machine, which I now have. My mom is also a sewer (and stained glass maker), and my MIL is a quilter extraordinaire. MY MIL taught me to quilt when my husband and I started to date (I asked her to), and I recently made a mom a bed quilt with all of the scraps from the 30+ years left from her hawaiian shirt making, along with scraps from clothes she made me over the years. We have fabric memories all over our home.

  37. Many, many textile heirlooms from my grandmother who died nearly 20 years before I was born. How can I choose between lace she made, lace she bought, quilt blocks and tops she finished but didn’t quilt, bed linens. I’m so fortunate to love these things that means to much to her and so fortunate that other people didn’t throw them out before I could get them!

  38. angela lashley says:

    Me and my mother have created a tradition over the last several years of quilting together every time we visit one another (we live over 600 miles away from each other), which doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else. We have the best time sewing together. We take turns with who sews, presses and cuts so it takes longer to get tired ;)