Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Quilting Bee

I have always admired old quilts and know first hand the time it takes to create one of these works of art by hand from each of my grandmothers. Grandma H would save every dress and shirt that was no longer fit to wear, and with her favorite cardboard templates, she would create works of art. Painstakingly, she would sew each piece to another until she had her top piece completed. Then she would have her bottom quilt piece which was usually one color or pattern. Then she would sew them together, and  depending on if this was to be a Summer or Winter quilt,  she would add the batting accordingly. Then there was the binding and quilting stitch for the design. All too much for me to handle, but I watched her fascinated by how she placed her colors and the shapes of each quilt block.

I also still remember gramma B being excited when her quilting patterns came in the mail so that she could take her feed sack material and create her works of art too! It was a great marketing ploy by the feed companies at the time, to provide wonderful colors of material in feed as I know my gramma would only purchase the feed sacks that appealed to her.

Unfortunately old quilts have become out of fashion and most of my antique friends do not even sell any in their stores any longer. With the big retail stores providing quilts at cheaper prices, quilts are no longer being made by hand, and no one wants to pay for the quality of a vintage or antique one anymore.
( a recent addition to my personal collection)
I on the other hand love old quilts! Every time I get the chance to feel one in my hands and touch the material, I gaze upon it wondering who made it and the story behind it....Knowing that our fore mothers who created these magnificent pieces of art did so out of necessity and not for the WOW factor that I get; it still takes my breath away being able to see the workmanship that went into making these heirlooms of our past. 

( was able to purchase this one just this past week)

This quilt dates between circa 1861- 1874. Not sure of exact date. It is a Summer quilt with minor fraying on the edges and some of the hexagons are fading in places. The border is a fabulous purple print, and the...

back is this lovely red and light aqua blue color. The quilting is all done in black, with some stitches missing...but what do you expect for a quilt this old. Being able to purchase such a wonderful old quilt was such an honor, as I was not expecting the person to take my offer...but fortunately for me she did.

Looking at the back of this quilt reminded me of the wallpaper my gramma H had on her wall. It was much cheaper back then to wallpaper instead of paint, and both sets of grandmothers had wallpapered walls in their farmhouses.

This past Sunday Bob and I had the privilege to go inside an early 1800 homestead for an estate sale. Each room still had its original wallpaper and old creaky un-level wood floors. I was in love the minute I walked into it. It was for sale, but alas I believe that whomever purchases it will be purchasing just for the land and will probably tear down the homestead. 

I cannot save every house I see, or purchase every antique, but at least every now and then I can purchase items for my own homestead that have history to them..and if I could have but one wish, that would be for each of my old quilts to tell me their story.... 

Take care everyone


  1. Such a sweet and interesting post on old quilts. That is one thing I have been so blessed with. My great aunt (who was an old maid) and her sister, my grandmother lived with us until they both passed away. They had tons of quilts and when Mother had to go to a nursing home I got these old quilts. Most were in great condition. I remember being a small child and the quilts were kept in a closet they called the quilt stack. Thanks for bringing all these memories to my mind. Love your quilt you got last week. Have a great evening.

  2. Janice ... I know exactly how you feel about these old quilts because I feel the same way. No one in my family ever quilted but for some reason I was always drawn to quilts even as a child. I assume my first exposure to them was seeing them pictured in some sort of storybook. I always planned on learning to make them one day & that is what I did. I have made quite a few for myself including one made from old feedsack pieces ... & I have made a few for gifts for special friends & family members. I don't own any authentic old ones but would love to. I share your wish that these old quilts could tell you their stories. How interesting that would be! I do have an old Singer treadle machine that I use for sewing ... something else I always wanted from the time I was a child. I often wish it could tell me its story about the woman or women who sewed on it. I don't even want a modern machine in my house. Thank you for such a delightful post : ) Blessings, Shirlee

  3. I love old quilts, I love old everything. I think you are right about the quilts though. I don't see them like I use to. I wonder too if people are keeping them to themselves instead of selling them.

  4. beautiful post! I think people are hoarding those quilts though..there's a guy and his wife near me and they swoop up every quilt they can find...always beat me to it...I did find one probably from the 1930's or so..paid $40 and its in great shape. It's one of my prized vintage pieces. It's on my blog...

  5. Beautiful post, Janice....I love old quilts too - but, oh, so hard to come by. My great grandmother was a wonderful seamstress, but was well into her late 80's when I came along - all she could see to do at that point was tied quilts. I have a couple of those - which I treasure - but oh - to have the wonderfully pieced and quilted ones! Thanks for the bittersweet memories! Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin

  6. What a touching post Janice. When I hear of people cutting up old quilts I cringe, but I'm sure they only do it if they are beyond repair. I used to love quilting but don't have enough patience at this point and need smaller projects to stay focussed. I hope they don't tear down that old homestead! Thanks for doing your part to preserve the past! ~*~Lisa

  7. I'm going to try again.... I have been unable to comment on your last several posts - including this one. Love the quilts!!! I am especially fond of the one with the red back - gorgeous!


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