Monday, November 17, 2014

Odds and Ends

When my daughter was visiting last weekend, helping me with the improv piecing, she also arranged a block of her own off to the side using some of the scraps.  I sewed that together this past week and quilted it into a place mat sized mini.

I have never free-motion quilted over corduroy and wondered how it would act.  I'm happy to report that it went well and actually seemed very normal to quilt.  I experimented with some very "organic" clam shells.  Norm called the whole look primitive, and I guess that's about as good a description as any!

I really like the texture of the quilted corduroy.  For the back, I used a soft wool flannel in a subtle herringbone pattern.  

So that's my experiment of the week and pretty much the sum total of what happened in the sewing room the past few days.

* * * * * *
Back in October, I visited my aunt, who showed me two quilts pieced by my great-grandmother on my dad's side.  

My paternal great-grandparents, Max and Esther (50th anniversary, July 1944)
The story was that Great-Grandma Esther had told my aunt and her sister that she would make each of them a quilt, to be given to them when they got a little older (and married, probably).  My aunts regularly helped Great-Grandma in her later years; they lived just across the street.

Unfortunately, however, Great-Grandma passed away in 1952, when the aunts were 16 and 17, and the quilts all but disappeared in the goings-on after her death.  My aunt was fairly certain that my great-aunt had taken them home, ostensibly for safekeeping.  

Over the next many years, as the aunts got married and had children, my aunt asked about the quilts, but for whatever reason, they were never turned over to her and her sister.  

Indeed, forty years passed before the aunts received their quilts.  After my great-aunt passed away in 1994, the quilt tops were found among her things.

They were finished simply for each of the aunts at that time by one of their sisters-in-law, with what feels like a poly batting and tied with yarn.  

Aunt Celia and her double wedding ring quilt
The double wedding ring quilt went to Aunt Celia and the lavender basket quilt to Aunt Mona.  

Celia remembered quite a few dresses in the scraps of her quilt.

My aunt told me that Great-Grandma sewed may things, including the Christmas and Easter dresses made for each of her granddaughters every year.  She also made baby clothes, and the baptismal gown worn by a good number of babies born into the extended family in the last century, myself and my daughter included. (The baptismal gown is a story in itself.  If I can find photos of it around here, I'll post those another time).

This is one of the baby items Great-Grandma made in the 1920s.  My aunt has a Victorian style decor and displays this year-round.

The confirmation dresses worn by two relatives in this photo were made by my Great-Grandma in the 1930s.

It was fun to visit with my aunt about these things.  I plan to go back there again and look through some family photos with her, which I'm sure will prompt a story or two.

I can't recall how I had heard about these quilts made by my great-grandmother; it was something mentioned in passing in the past year or so, but I'm glad I followed up and asked further about them.  It was a treat to learn more about an ancestor I'd never met whose legacy lives on in her handiwork and the memories of those who knew her.


  1. Love those two quilts quilted by your great grandmother; especially Aunt Mona's lavender baskets. I must say I am loving the texture on your quilted corduroy. It seems your little experiment worked wonders!

  2. Hi P! Your placemat turned out neat! I would like to learn to improv quilt too. I read your account of your Great-Grandma and her sewing and your aunts with great interest. It is so wonderful to know the history in your family like that!

  3. Your mini looks great – Im so glad it behaved during the quilting process. And I do think M has her mother’s eye for colour and design.

    Loved hearing about your great grandmothers skills , and seeing the quilts she made. My family has so little in the way of tangible historical items that Im fascinated by any family who has that sort of stuff!

  4. I really like the free motion quilting on the corduroy. You and your daughter did well!

    The quilts and the story behind them is so rich, both the quilts and the story! I really like them!

  5. Wow, what a story, and now you have documented on the web forever for the next generation!

  6. I love reading stories such as this one, and the photos are wonderful! Thanks for sharing part of your personal quilting heritage with us!

  7. I've never tried using corduroy before but it looks great! Thanks for sharing the stories - you are so lucky to have this sort of knowledge of your family history.


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