Thursday, June 13, 2013

my quilting roots

some of my "before i quilted" quilts

i don't really have any genetic quilting roots. my mother was a sewer, but never a quilter. sure, she did some of those "tied quilts," but they weren't patchwork and i don't really count them. they were basically sheets with some puffy polyester batting in between that were tied together with yarn, no proper binding. okay, so they were kind of quilts, but not exactly and i'm getting way off track here.

start again.
i do not come from a line of quilters. my mother sewed a lot. both my grandmothers sewed, too, like all good housewives of the 50's, but i never sewed with them or got a sewn product from either of them. their sewing days were long over by the time i arrived. except my baby blessing dress that my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother sewed for me, which i completely cherish and have used for each of my 5 girls. it's definitely an heirloom with 5 generations of connection to it now. and i did inherit my paternal grandmother's beautiful old singer in it's wooden case. but i never once saw her sew on it.

oh, quilting. right.
there are no quilters in my recent family gene pool. i'm sure if you go back a few branches on the family tree to my pioneer heritage there were definitely quilters. but none of the ancestors in the 3 generations before me who i met, to my knowledge, quilted. sewed, embroidered, cross stitched, hemmed, altered, patched - yes. quilted - no.

but the very first quilt i can remember having any influence on my life was a beautiful monotone pink star quilt that resided on the bed in my aunt catherine's room at my maternal grandmother's house. i think it's what you call a "lonestar" pattern, which was rather prophetic because my grandmother spent the rest of her life in houston, tx once my grandpa graduated college. it was just one huge star (not the 5 point kind) that began in the middle of the quilt and radiated out in succeeding shades of pink, to the edges of the quilt. the star was made of diamonds in graduated sizes. it was beautiful. even as a child who loved new, crisp items, i had an appreciation for the lovely pink star.

when i was 13, i lived with my grandparents for 6 months to bridge the gap between my family's move from TX to TN so that i could finish off my 8th grade year and get my braces off. catherine's room became my room and i slept under that exquisite quilt. i came to think of it as mine in a way. grandma margaret told me it had been a wedding gift to her from her aunts. what a treasure.
my grandparents circa 1945
grandma was a war bride. now that i think of it, that quilt must have been quite a feat to put together at that time. wasn't fabric rather dearly priced? it's not a patchwork quilt made from scraps but one carefully and purposefully put together from new fabrics selected for their color and presentation value in a well thought out wedding present. coming out of the war and post-depression era, i think this is probably rather unusual. or at least a statement about their love for her and intentions in putting together a nice gift.

i wish i had a picture of it, but i don't. i photographed many features of my grandparent's home about 13 years ago, but the quilt had been removed from the bed at that point. catherine, in an effort to be helpful, had tried to wash the quilt in the washing machine. it came apart at the delicate seams. she didn't completely destroy it, but extensive repairs were needed. i think when they cleaned out my grandmother's home catherine took the quilt with the intentions of restoring it. i hope she does. as much as i adore it, i don't begrudge her the quilt. but i would like a photograph of it.

that is the only heirloom pieced quilt that i know of in my family. and i can certainly trace the roots of my love of quilting right to the heart of that huge, pink star. maybe someday i'll learn how make something like it.

kelli at "seriously, i think it needs stitches" posted some wonderful family quilts, which inspired a lot nostalgia in me. like i said, i don't have any heirloom quilts. but that problem in my family stops right here. i'm going to make sure to leave enough behind for everyone.

lately, i've been thinking of just exactly how this love affair i have with quilts got started. it took me several years to come around to actually quilting myself. before that, i began purchasing a few. this morning, i had to confiscate one of my early purchases from a child because it needs repair and should not be played with. that got me thinking about the story of "before i quilted" and i decided to photograph those old-to-me quilts. (because mother of 7 had better things to do but didn't want to, of course.) i think i'll write about those "before i quilted" quilts in a series of post over the next several weeks. no schedule, that's too confining. but i'll be posting about them from time to time. and the rest will have photos!

they are, after all, my own roots in quilting.


  1. What a lovely post. Your grandmother is beautiful. So are there plans for a large, handpieced star quilt in your future? It sounds like a good project for someone confined to bed. Perhaps you should try and get consumption, like Victorian women used to get :-)

  2. What a touching story. It's so wonderful how a quilt can have such strong emotion attached to it. I truly hope the quilt is restored one day so it can be treasured for many more years.

    on another note- thanks for the heads up about the no-reply thing yesterday. somehow Blogger reverted back to no-reply all on its own. I fixed it (again) this morning!

    and on a third note still- I started a link party for quilters on Thursdays, beginning today- Needle and Thread Thursday. Hop on over and share your current project (finished or not) if you get a chance!

    -Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation :)

  3. Its lovely that a quilt can be special for the owner and also create fond memories for others that come in to contact with it. A lovely post.


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