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Applique Home Decor Quilting

Memories, the threads of time

Isn’t it fun to capture a happy memory in needle and thread? It’s not always easy to achieve but when memories and creative inspiration collide, it’s a heartfelt moment.  That’s the story behind my latest Stipple! Collection, Life’s a Beach.


You see, when I was ten years old, my father, an avid pilot, restored a World War II open cockpit bi-plane and flew it for thirty years in our tiny seaside resort in New Jersey. He loved that plane and so did all of his daughters. Although it never towed a banner as it is in this quilt, it spiraled through the air crisscrossing the sky over the sparkling blue water of the Atlantic Ocean. He would buzz our house and we would head to the airport to get a ride. If we were on the beach when he flew over, we would wave and jump around on the white sand so he could see us.  A tip of his wing meant he was heading home for dinner.

There are so many stories about that plane– thankfully all with happy landings – I just had to include this memory of my youth spent on the Jersey shore.  Oh what I wouldn’t do to stand on that sand and hear him fly overhead.


Those happy memories include many days spent at the beach and with five sisters, there were always bathing suits drying in the sun on the backyard clothesline.  In fact, I remember coming home from my morning waitress job at a local coffee shop and checking the clothesline to see what suits were left – several of us wore the same size.  My mother used to say, “First one out, best one dressed!”


And then off to the beach it was. With a good book, suntan lotion (OMG probably baby oil, how times have changed!), chair and towel, everything revolved around the beach. Everyone (except my mother) was on the beach: neighbors, tourists (same families, same street every year) and family.  The more the merrier; the bigger the circle of chairs, the better.

The scene depicted in the bottom row on Life’s a Beach shows the end of the day at the beach…one chair, one umbrella, a peaceful quiet time in the shade.


I stitched the three panels independently and they hang together with ribbons of raffia looped over wood buttons. Since each row stitches quickly, I finished a row in an afternoon, binding included! Once I had one done, I was motivated to start the next one. If you’d like, piece the three rows together to make one wall quilt.  I had so much fun designing this project and focusing on the simple days of my youth, I hope you enjoy making it as much as I enjoyed designing it.


Question of the week:  What are your favorite summertime childhood memories?

Visit the Designs in Machine Embroidery website for a limited time special offer on Stipple Life’s a Beach.  Enjoy free US shipping.  Use coupon code:  beach





  • Liz

    Love this my sweet sister! Thanks for the memories!!

  • Belinda

    My Mom did not drive and we lived a mile from a state campsite. Most summer days we would walk to the park to swim, picking berries on the way home or exploring near the old horse trough on the old abandoned road and walking along the top of the cement wall that was used to hold the embankment from falling in the road.

  • Diane

    My dad was a small business owner so he set his own work hours. A few days a week he would come home at noon and we would pack up or swim suits and picnic basket then drive to a state park with a beach. Many happy memories swimming and walking the park trails. Once I mistook a snake for a stick. I screamed and jumped into my mom’s arms when the “stick” moved!

  • Gail

    Going to visit our grandparents and aunt in Tennessee have some very special memories. They owned a men’s store and my grandfather always took off when we went to visit. He was in his 70’s and all of his friends would sit in wooden chairs outside of the stores with their cigars and brass spit pontoons . They always had chewing gum or candy to offer us. We would visit my grandfather’s mammy and her family, who still called my grandfather her “baby”. We had a summer of selling lemonade and fruit from the small wooden fruit stand that he built for us, walking to the movie theater, which was only a few blocks away (only 25 cents back then), taking piano lessons. and visiting our great uncle Carl and Great Aunt Blanche.

  • Shirley Clark

    You did a great job! My favorite memories are when I had a tree swing, and I could swing as high as I could go. Sometimes my brother would push he, and it’s a wonder I lived to tell about it. LOL

    • eileenroche

      That’s adorable!

  • Pam

    On the lake. After naps we would pick peaches off the tree for a snack. The smell of Sea and Ski suntan lotion while riding in the boat.

    • eileenroche

      Sea and Ski suntan lotion! Love it!

  • Greta

    Baby oil with merthiolate! Oh the things we did to our skin back in the day!

    I loved to ride my bike out in the country, usually took along my popiels pocket fisherman or something to put newts or salamanders in.
    We rarely went to the beach in summer, but when we visited my grandma in Fort Lauderdale (usually at Easter, she was in West Virginia in the summer) we went to the beach… fun times. Loved it so much I have lived near beaches since I was in my mid 20s. Prefer the Atlantic side, but for the past 20 years have been onthe west coast. Your quilt is very sweet!

  • Becky Thompson

    These are wonderful! We have a home on the Texas Gulf Coast and my wall decorations are only those things I have made. Stipple Sea Life is already gracing the hallway. 🙂 Heading over to grab this now.

  • Stacy Cordes

    We had a pool growing up, so every summer we would want to go swimming as soon as it was daylight, but we couldnt swim until we went to the garden and picked beans! (oh, how I hated that) and then we would swim til dark. After we came in the house we would sit in front of the tv and mom would hand us two bowls, one filled with beans to be snapped and the other to drop the trimmings in. They knew how to get the work done! And now, I would rather be working in the garden than swimming, we still have the pool and it attracts the youngsters, but the garden calls my name!!

  • Marie zinno

    I’m crying and laughing at the same time! Great blog Eileen, I’m glad I was usually the first sister out the door

    • eileenroche

      Yes, you were – remember that pink sweater?

      • marie zinno


  • Lori Woodward

    What a great project and wonderful story! We spent 2 weeks every summer while I was growing up staying with my Aunt and going to the beach in MD. Your blog brought back the taste of bologna sandwiches (with sand usually) and Thrasher’s fries. Those were the best sandwiches!

    • eileenroche

      No better sandwich than a sandy ham sandwich in my childhood! I can feel the grit right now.

  • Diane

    I grew up spending summers in a bungalow in Rockaway Beach in Queens, right across the street from the ocean and Rockaway’s Playland. I will never forget the sound of the roller coaster; I could see it from my front porch. We went to the beach almost every day. The smell of Coppertone still reminds me of my childhood. As teens we moved on to baby oil and iodine! We still have a place there, because once the sand is in your shoes, you can never really shake it out!

  • Sharon R

    My father was in heavy construction, so we moved a lot, usually during the summer, so I don’t have memories based on being at the same place, doing the same thing for years. All of my memories are around being outside most of the day, swimming in creeks, exploring nearby orchards, and playing games like Kick the Can and Hide and Seek with my 4 brothers, and later my 2 younger sisters.

  • Judi C

    Lake Winnipesaukee!

  • Kate

    You have a gift for writing. This made me tear up a little. Beautiful memory, beautifully written,accompanying a fabulous quilt. <3

    • eileenroche

      Such sweet comments – thank you!

  • JD

    Riding bikes from morning to night. Always outside and the bathtub was full of muddy water every night after our day of just doing whatever came to mind. Going to spend a week or two on Grandma’s farm with “real” animals.

  • Karen S

    We lived near a lake in the summer I would ride my bike to a friend on the lake. I would go right after breakfast and come home in time for dinner and sometimes back to the lake after that. Thanks for sharing the memories.Love the wall hanging.

  • srgiven

    Lived in a cottage in Seal Beach. l950’s was heaven. Freedom all day, birthday present was a floating raft that would hold three, (or not!) Cold fizzy Coke, smell of real rubber beach balls, swimming lessons, and a fresh loaf of bread on the way home.

  • Sara Redner

    I love the wall hanging and love your story even more. We rode our bikes all summer long. A farmer just down the road had white tail deer who would come to the fence to be petted. The field was at the bottom of a hill so we would coast all the way down, but we had to walk our bikes back up the hill when we got ready to go home!

  • annette rady

    I too am a jersey shore girl….to this day. We love Margate and head down almost every weekend to the home my parents bought in the 70s. For just a small amount the lifeguards on the beach will put your chairs out every day just where they know you want them and that way you don’t need to take them home until after Labor day.

  • Eileen Keane

    I lived in a housing project as a child and we had a huge playground in the center of all the buildings. During the summer, there was a matron-Mrs. Shea-and she had us making potholders, weaving baskets, and directing all our play. Sometimes, we would wear our bathing suits and she’d open the water spouts so we could cool off.

  • Bruce

    I just love the idea. Memorable and creative. Thanks for sharing.