Friday, October 23, 2015

A Really REALLY Big Deal

My last post was about the old cloth tape measure that belonged to my great-aunt and how my mom graciously gave it to me. Well, today's post is about and even BIGGER deal.

Four years ago, when my dad turned 80, my parents asked us kids to write down three things we wanted from their house. I thought hard about two of the items, but one was a cinch for me to come up with. In reality that "one" item was actually multiple items. My mom had acquired several quilts that her ancestors had made. I found them many years ago and asked for them, but Mom wasn't ready to give them up then.

My parents are getting ready to move (more on that in another post on another day) and have been sorting through some things. When we were visiting my parents a couple of weeks ago, I asked my dad if I could have the quilts. He said we'd have to get Mom's consent. I went upstairs to find five quilts in the closet and brought them down for my mom to look over.  Mom's first reaction was to shake her head "no" pretty adamantly. We talked about it occasionally for the next couple of hours. Mom kept shaking her head "no".  I even asked Dad if it mattered if Mom gave her consent. He said it was part of her grieving process of moving and letting things go. Mom did finally say it was okay to take four of the five quilts. The one she kept was one that her mother made.

I pinned them up on my design wall and photographed them to share on my blog at the request of my blogging buddy and fellow quilter, Kathy
This Nine-Patch red, white and blue quilt was made by my great-grandmother who immigrated to the United States from Sweden when she was a teenager.
Nine Patch, 71x84"

The note my mom wrote and attached to the quilt says that she bought all new fabrics for this quilt and all the stitching was done by hand and that it was probably made in the late 1930s or early 1940s. I remember my mom telling me that it was the last quilt her grandmother made.

This applique quilt was made by my paternal grandmother. I never knew she quilted! It looks to be machine pieced and hand appliqued and quilted. My guess is the flower fabrics are from feed-sacks.
Flower Applique, 69x84"

This quilt was definitely well used and loved. It is the most worn and stained and faded of the quilts.

This wool quilt was too heavy to pin up on my design wall, so I laid it on the deck. The note my mom had with it says my paternal grandmother's mother, my great-grandmother, made it. Then she added at a later time "or her mother". (!)  It is very heavy and pretty stinky (musty). I have in on the screened-in-porch right now airing out. I did get some advice on how to clean it and it sounds like a two person job, so I'll have to wait for Hubby to help me sometime.
Wool Quilt, 80x78"
 It does have a few holes in it. My dad says he remembers sleeping under it.

I saved my favorite for last. I love them all, but this Double Wedding Ring quilt is in pristine condition and I love the old feed-sack fabrics. The note with this one says that my maternal grandfather's mother made it, my great-grandmother, and there is another note that includes my great-aunt's name.
Double Wedding Ring, 84x88"

Thank you, Mom, for entrusting the care of these special quilts to me. I know it is a Really REALLY Big Deal for you to give them to me. I know they are treasures and I plan on caring for them with utmost care.

I have been searching for how to care for these and how to clean them properly. I have emailed an expert in North Carolina and she gave me really good advice on how to clean them. I want them to at least smell good enough to use some and to display.

I wish I could have a conversation with the women, my ancestors, who made these quilts. Why did they make them? Who did they make them for? How long did it take to make them?


  1. Oh my ... this is a HUGE deal!! I love, love, love these! Especially that DWR! I'm so glad that you've sought advice on how to preserve those beauties ... they are truly family heirlooms.

  2. I'm so glad you are able to keep and care for these quilts. Why not you? When my grandma passed away at age 93, my mom and I were looking through some closets, etc. in her home. We found a quilt (Dresden Plate) in a drawer. My grandma quilted MANY (300??) quilts for other people, but this was one she had pieced and quilted herself. If my sisters had been with me in this discovery, I'm not sure what would have happened. (All would cherish and care for it, no doubt...). But Mom said I could have it. It's been displayed in every house we've lived in since then. Very special and a keepsake for sure! Have fun with your new heirlooms.