28 October 2010

~~Honoring Old Quilts~~1

I love old quilts.
So much so that I can't bring myself to get rid of them
even when they are so old and tattered they are beyond household usefulness.

If you've ever made a quilt,
you might understand my dilemma.
It takes a lot of work to make a quilt.
It is also an artistic expression that comes from the very soul of it's maker.
Not to mention all the work and resources that went into
growing and processing the fibers of the original fabrics a quilt is made from...
then the labor that went into the making of the garments that were
the fabrics first use.
Then the collecting and selecting of the pieces
from garments no longer useful...
the designing and cutting and sewing of the bits
into a quilt top...which is then
layered into a sandwich with batting and bottom
and finally tied or quilted
into a newly functional thing of beauty.

Old quilts, and their makers, are deserving of honor.

At the same time, they do no good mouldering in a cardboard box
in my attic or basement or garage...
it's a quandry sentimentalists like me  wrestle with.

So I decided to make decisions.
Most of the quilts in my possession
would simply disintegrate in the machine were I to attempt to launder them,
and the outcome would be similar if I tried to wash them by hand.

I'm not going to bring them in and use them on the beds
because of their sad states of unpleasant odors,
possible infestations of moths or spiders,
and their lack of durablilty.

So what to do?

I pulled them all out on a late summer's afternoon
and decided to hang them on the line
and photograph them... then share them...
then assign them a new fate.
It is the best way I can think of to solve my dilemma.

I'd like to share these quilts~
and their stories as far as I know them~
here with you from time to time.

I'm told the above quilt was made by my paternal grandma Clara.
When my Momma married my Daddy,
they lived with Grandma, who was newly widowed, for a couple of years,
and Momma says that Grandma had made it
from her late husband's old worn out woolen suits.
It had been used as a top quilt for warmth for many years,
but by the time Momma joined the family it was worn enough that it
had been demoted to use as a cover for the box springs
on the bed that Grandma slept on.
(Waaay back then, box springs weren't the fancy fabric covered things we know,
they were actually just an open wire framework of springs and metal,
and they could snag and tear the best of mattresses if left uncovered.)

By the time I came along,
this old quilt had found its way to our home
and was still being used as a middle bed layer,
though it went to a box when my parents were able to upgrade
their sleeping system.

It has been boxed up ever since,
except for the occasional peek into the box and resulting
pulling it out and fingering.

I love the soft muted colors,
and the way they are placed in diagonal design.

The quilt is tied with purple-faded-lavender wool yarn
and I love the simple double hand stitching around the edges.

The batting is thick cotton,
and the backing is a cozy pink and grey striped cotton flannel
(you can barely see it peeking through the damaged area here.)

I love the scrappy and rugged look of this quilt.
It is so "country"...and the muted colors
are very reminiscent of the prairies and the open skies
that surround the farm where this quilt was made.

Although this quilt is no longer at home in the house,
we are using it to protect furniture and other breakables as we move.

I still love it, and it is still useful.
To be loved.....and useful.....is an honor.
I hope to be as fortunate when I'm this old and decrepit!


  1. I have an addiction for old quilts. I have some that my grandmother made for me, on her treadle sewing machine, when I was a child. They are shredded rags and stored in a plastic tub in the garage. I cannot bear to pitch them. I'll pitch something else first.

  2. Missuz C,

    Even though this quilt is old, I think it is beautiful! I simply LOVE quilts, and I wish that I could learn to make one myself (though this will probably never happen).

    I'm looking forward to you showing us your other "old quilts" and sharing the stories that go with them. Maybe you can call it your "Old Quilt Series." LOL! :)


    -Lady Rose

  3. I hope that fate is passing them on to others who will love them.I love quilts as well.I have two my great grandmother made and they will leave me when my daughters are old enough to marry and beg for them.LucyT