Tatting by Dilly

Dilly Great GrandmaTatting by Dilly is what this post is about. My Great Grandma was half Scottish and half Indian and her name was Sedilla but everyone called her, “Dilly”. While I was growing up, we would sit around doing needlework. She did Scottish tatting, Grandma and I did embroidery, and my Mom did crocheting. Dilly is pictured in the back center row above in the early 1900s. From left to right are her sister (Beulah), her Mom (Pernetta), and her sister (Bernice) in the front row.

Dilly Tatting 01tatting-tat¬∑‚Äčting – a delicate handmade lace formed usually by looping and knotting with a single cotton thread and a small shuttle.

Dilly Tatting 02I should have paid better attention because as I look at this piece that she did, I have no idea about how it was actually done. I remember her sitting in her chair with a white cloth on her lap stitching away. She would finish a piece and then my Mom would sometimes crochet an edge around it she wanted it.

Dilly Tatting 03The material is that cotton that was loosely woven, maybe flour sacks, so I wonder if she clipped openings to stitch lace into the middle or did she pull threads into groups to make the lace? Her hand stitching around the edges is so totally even and I know that it was all done by hand.

Dilly Tatting 04The patterns in the center are amazing with the details so beautifully finished.

Dilly Tatting 05Very steady hands, and so much patience, she loved to chat and stitch with her beautiful white hair.

Sedilla 1960s

Mary Did Splendid Crochet

crochet tablecloth 01This round tablecloth is my Mom’s favorite color. Whenever I see this beautiful blue, I remember her. Mom, MaryMy Mom, Mary did splendid crochet work. She did a lot of crochet using small needles with thin cotton thread as I was growing up. She also made afghans, sweaters, and other things out of regular yarn.crochet tablecloth 03 Her hands were busy in the evenings. Mom made tablecloths, table runners, pillowcase lace, and doilies. Here are some of the tablecloths that I still have that she made. This one is made with off-white thread, it has a star pattern in the middle with netting going out to the lacey edge.crochet tablecloth 05 This tablecloth is done using white cotton thread with a flower-type pattern in the middle, with a small row of netting and then a thick lacey pattern at the outer edge. The outer edge lace is almost like a ruffle.

I shared previously about how we all learned how to do needlework in my family in a post of 8/2018. Wow, that is a while ago, isn’t it? I hadn’t realized how long I have been writing in this blog. Whew.


Don’t Be Afraid to Sew

Mary SchultheisSadly, sewing is a lost art in our society. Picture the pioneer that sat on a rocker in front of their fireplaces all winter hand sewing clothes and quilts in dim light. Honestly, we have it real easy with our sewing machines in comparison. People have an unfounded terror of attempting to do the “impossible” task of constructing a garment. Fears are easily proven wrong as a result of, discovering the steps to sew any item are very precisely laid out in the patterns. If you can read and follow directions, you can sew anything. You will find that the process gets easier and faster due to repetition, and each additional item made from a pattern gets easier still.

Sewing is a cumulative skill worth pursuing. Learning to sew teaches you how to use your precise hand movement skills constructively, the mind to plan which step first, and increase your perseverance strengths to complete a project. Above all, making custom pieces that are not only unique, and well-fitted give a person a special sort of self-satisfaction when complete.

Passing Down the Skills

I like to sew, which I learned from my Mother. Her name was Mary Schultheis and she was so talented in many ways as a pianist, and a seamstress who spent many hours sewing our family clothes and everything else as I was growing up.

An amazing thing she sewed for me were all the fancy “holo kuu’s” or costumes I used to dance hula solos in shows downtown Waikiki. These outfits were very complicated fitted patterns that were designed to imitate the 1800’s missionary dress styles. Probably a real nightmare for my Mom. Long dresses with many small buttons/clasps, lace, and trains dragging on the floor. How difficult it must have been, to put 3-4 of those outfits together every year. It would be similar to making multiple prom dresses on a yearly basis. I really should have thanked her much, much, more for this! Hindsight. The items that I make now, will never even compare to her skill level on the sewing machine. My sewing projects are happily made and given away, sold, or donated to church fundraisers the majority of the time.


I record the “Sewing With Nancy” programs on the Public Television Station to view when I have time. She lays out really neat ways to go about sewing a large variety of items.


Mom, besides being a supreme seamstress, did fine crochet crafts using thin cotton thread and her speedy little hooks. It was amazing to watch her hands click her needles together as she was knitting. It was just as amazing to see her going rapidly in and out of her next tablecloth, she had very fast hands with her hooks and needles. Her projects included things like doilies, tablecloths, Christmas tree skirts, blouses.


Our family does needlework including sewing, embroidery, and crocheting together in the evenings. Three generations sitting around the living room or on Grandma’s porch, joking and chatting while we stitched together (or we were snapping green beans). Our household produced beautiful pieces with Scottish tatting, eyelet, embroidery, and crochet pieces.

Scottish Tatting

Sedilla Oxendine 1908My Great-Grandmother did Scottish tatting and embroidery on elegant dish towels, quilts, doilies, pillowcases, and dresses. Her name was Sedilla and everyone called her Dillie. Her mother was half Scottish, she is in the center of the front row . The three sisters were left to right, Beulah, Sedilla, and Bernice.


Opal Kilpatrik 50Sedilla had a daughter named Opal who was my Grandma. She did embroidery in colored flosses making days-of-the-week dishtowels, flowers, herbs, quilts, table cloths, and napkins. My Grandma taught me how to do embroidery stitches on small things like pillowcases and napkins. After I learned how to do all the basic embroidery stitches sufficiently, I graduated from her 101 courses and slipped into the real world of embroidery from there.

First Real Project

When I was in high school, Grandma gave me my first real embroidery project as my Christmas present. It was a full tablecloth kit made by Bucilla who’s name has changed to “plaid on” now. This tablecloth kit was a rose & flower pattern that had the thread, cloth, needles, and hoop in it with instructions similar to a paint-by-number set. Put this color floss here, using this stitch. This first tablecloth was a daisy and rose pattern with vines and leaves taking me an entire year to finish. Seems like maybe, there were a million times where I needed to change the thread colors. I threaded a different color into my needle so many times, that it truly became second nature. Many times I thought that maybe it would be impossible to finish. But each evening I stitched on it some more and finally, it was done.

It would not surprise me, to find out that my family had placed bets on whether I would finish it or not. Probably the most significant result has been the creation of a lifelong habit that I dearly love.

Opal Kilpatrick 89Grandma was also responsible for many of my best recipes. Her name was Opal (Canniff) Kilpatrick. Being half Scottish and half Indian she had beautiful white hair just like her Mom. Here is a picture of her pausing for a photo for me in the Lihue, Kauai HI airport before we walked over to the gate for her to climb up the stairs to catch her flight.

She had come to visit me and my kids before moving away to the mainland to live with her sister in Oklahoma. I snapped this photograph with one of those old Kodak 110 film cameras, little did I know, this would be the last time I’d see her in person before she passed away. I still miss her and keep this picture in my wallet. Whenever I spread my rose and daisy tablecloth on the dining room table for a special occasion, I hear Grandma’s voice.