What’s in a Name?

Lately, a lot of folks have asked me, “Why May Chappell?” So, if you’re one of these peeps who thought it, but didn’t ask, here you go! If you already know (or just don’t really care…), read on, I’ll give you some eye candy at the end!
In my first post (when my only true followers were my parents and big brother:)), I talked about this a bit. My name is Lee Chappell. The Chappell is pronounced like chapel (as in church). My great grandmother was May Chappell. Since I come from a long line of mothers teaching daughters to sew, I thought I’d choose a name with a nod to that heritage. The guru learned to sew from her mother and her mother learned from her mother.
There are lots of Chappells in the Carolinas; there’s even a book. If you’ve truly read everything else interesting in the world, you could read up on that!
I’ve always associated my Chappell name with my great aunt Nelle Chappell (my family is not great at names…). She was like a grandmother to me and I adored her. She was a math teacher who graduated Duke; a needle and thread were not her thing. But if she were alive, I know she’d be reading my blog like it was her job.
But I digress…back to the name. So I’m Lee Chappell, my great-grandmother was May Chappell and there are lots of sewers and quilters in between. A long line of knowing a thing or two about cloth!
My Dad has also voiced his opinions (whined) about the name. He comes from a family of sewers and quilters as well. And the guru also learned her mad skills from her paternal grandmother- it’s coming from all sides. It’s in my blood and I chose a name that would remind me of that.
And here’s some promised eye candy!
My favorite quilt from my grandmother’s house. I like to believe it was made by May Chappell; it definitely came from her house.

More May Chappell quilts!


This is the quilt that Nelle gave the guru. Needless to say, she did not make it…

These quilts were made by my Dad’s grandmother- Nancy Minerva Georgia Elizabeth Richardson Culbertson (yep, that’s all one person; I warned you that we aren’t great at names). She was a rock star piecer; I’m kind of jealous!


This is the boy version of sunbonnet sue (overall boy/farmer Sam) that my Dad’s mother, Lulee, made for my brother. This was the last quilt she made.

And here’s some of the guru’s early work! She made my brother and I these cool quiet time books. I found them while I was hunting after all these quilts. This is Jay’s; it was a Vogue pattern.





This is mine! A. It’s laughable that I was ever quiet. B. I did a little decorating to the cover. This was unsolicited. Poor guru! I’m sure she wanted to cry. This pattern was from her local sewing shop. She said it was more of an “idea” and less of a pattern.



I also found this gem! I made this when I was 3 or 4. It’s an apron in case you were struggling to identify it! I like the “raw edge appliqué”!!


My great-grandmother Stewart made a wedding dress for her daughter Emmie. She washed it once a year (gasp!) and it survived the test of time.

When Nelle got married, she borrowed it.

Then Emmie’s daughter, Emmaline wore it.

And then the guru altered it for Emmaline’s daughter, Vinson.

At the wedding, Vinson displayed photos of her mother and grandmother. (Vinson’s wedding pictures were taken by Jack Deere of Three Oaks Photography in Wake Forest, NC.)

Hope y’all enjoyed a trip down memory lane! I know it gave me lots of ideas.
xo LC

44 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Oh the passing down the dress is so sweet! It much be nice to have sewing come down from both sides of the family, I would’ve loved to learn when I was younger.

  2. Lee, What a lovely trip down your memory lane! I have such fond memories of sewing with Grandmother (mostly watching and talking and pretty much getting in her way), but she gave me such love through that time with her, that I cherish those memories. When Jeff and I became engaged and I started looking for “the dress,” every dress I tried on I compared to my mind’s eye vision of Mother’s wedding gown that Grandmother had made. Nothing compared at all in the 70’s it was all lace and more lace and pouf, and as we both know, I am NOT a lace and pouf kind of girl!! I looked at Mother as I stood relatively naked in the dressing room of hte store and said, “This is a waste of time and effort. Let’s go home. All I want to do is wear your dress.” So home we went and pulled out the dress. The sleeves were too short for my long arms (courtesy my dad), so we cut them off and made a slight cap sleeve under the collar and went searching for a veil. Found one almost exactly like what Mother wore in 1948 and off we went! My daughter, Emmaline, didn’t even go looking. She just said, “I want to wear your dress” and I called the guru and shouted, “HELP!!” She came to the rescue as usual and transformed the gown for Emmaline. What cherished memories we have of times shared and love given and received. Thanks for bringing those memories back once again.-E

    • So true! All I ever wanted, when I pictured my wedding, was to wear the dress that great-grandmother Stewart sewed. I never tried on another one. Three generations of Emmaline wore it in three different eras. I suppose classics never do go out of style… It’s wonderful, isn’t it, to be part of a family with so much tradition — quilting, wedding dresses, even names!

  3. What a wonderful legacy and tribute! I am sure they are all very proud of your work also!
    thanks for sharing!

  4. You are so lucky to have family quilts. I have only one left – one my great-grandmother made for my Dad when we graduated.

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