First Exposure to Quilts...

So many quilters have great stories of sitting under the quilt frame as children, listening to the old folks gossip, Or threading needles for maiden Aunts. Or hand piecing at the knee of a Grandmother.

Not me. Boys don't sew. Boys play in the dirt. Except I wasn't supposed to get dirty.

My exposure to quilts didn't come from beds, either. Toasty warm beds and sleeping under a weight of quilts in a drafty old farmhouse. In my family, we used blankets. Blankets were modern. Both my Grandmothers used blankets and I can remember that we had electric blankets when I was growing up. Quilts were for changing the oil in cars or spreading on the dirt for a picnic.

And, then the 70's came along and the bicentenial and a resurgence in the crafts of a bygone time. My grandmother made Sunbonnet Sue quilts and Overall Bill quilts for her great grandchildren. And, then, my Mom made me this quilt. All these stars appliqued to muslin with satin stitch. I don't remember much about the piecing, but I do remember her sitting at her machine, quilting it in a grid pattern. Her machine sat on a fold away card table in the laundry room, where an upright freezer would have gone...except all my family used chest type freezers. I also don't know where all the scraps came from. I know that some were clothing scraps from the family, but the others may have been gifted scraps from other people. Not sure my Mom would remember. Anyway, loved this quilt, but it is very fragile. The muslin is thin and it's been washed until some of the satin stitching has worn. The corners are starting to open where the muslin back was folded over to the front to bind it.

My next quilt was this quilt. It was made by my Great Grandmother. Now, this is where my real love of quilts started because I could use this quilt. Except it was made of double knit, so it is so hot that you can't sleep under it unless you're sleeping outside or in a very drafty house. But, I remember as a boy, sleeping under it in the summer until my Dad said something to me about not needing to sleep under a heavy quilt. I know he said it to me first thing one morning and I wonder if it was because he woke me up for school and I was a sweaty mess under this heavy thing.

Now, these next two quilts are quilts I grew up around. They were kept in the top of the linen closet and were used for picnics and...other things like raking leaves onto in the fall so we could drag them across the yard and dump them on the compost pile. Hey, quilts were plentiful and considered "country" at that time, so no judging.

This red sashed quilt is in the best shape. These quilts came from my maternal foremothers. Note the pattern. You're going to see it repeated from both sides of the family. It was apparently a very popular regional pattern.

This blue quilt is in sad shape and may not be worth repairing. But, I do have all the supplies gathered. It took years to find just the right loosely woven tan fabric to replace the HST's around each block. The original is shredding. And, I found a perfectly color matched piece of cotton to cover the motor oil stain in the backing. Like I said, quilts were plentiful and misunderstood.

This is a quilt I collected. We picked it up from an antique store. It really needs cleaning. Looks like a lot of white, but those colored bits used to be blue print with orange dots. Now, just the dots remain and a shadow of the blue. It's still a lovely quilt and is nice and heavy. Great hand quilting even though it's not densely quilted. It was made for a utility quilt. But, it's not a scrap quilt. The maker clearly had a lot of white and a lot of the print to use.

Now, we get into the quilts that I inherited from my paternal side of the family. These are in very good shape, All cotton. See that repeated pattern again? I love al the color in this quilt, set against the brown sashing and borders. No need for all the HST's on this one. Just cut the sashing into blocks and incorporate them into the pattern. Can you imagine how hard that was to do by hand?

One winter, Rob and I stayed at my parent's house for cmas holidays. They lived on a lake and it was blue cold while we were there. One whole wall of the bedroom was windows and sliding glass doors covered in heavy drapes, but it was still cold. We pulled this quilt out of the bathroom closet and we were toasty warm for the rest of our stay. It is a wonderful scrappy quilt. Lots of rough feedsack cloth.

Now, this quilt is a beautiful disaster. It is a beautifully hand pieced quilt. It's a sunflower pattern and the yellow petals are set into the seams of the blue points. I've only seen the pattern once and didn't think to bookmark it and can't find it again. All the fabrics in the top are cottons. But, it is backed with the cheapest navy blue polyester, so loosely woven that you can see through it and see the polyester batting. One day, I'd like to take the quilting out and requilt it on a new back and batt. But, with so many of my own projects going on, I doubt that I'll ever really get to that.


This was one of those odd mornings where I was celebrating just being. The averageness of getting up before the sun and making breakfast for my family and sending them off with their foil wrapped packages of goodness and protein. The averageness of putting things away and keeping order in my sewing room and doing yoga and playing with the dog. The averageness of a shower and shave. The averageness of sitting down to my own breakfast and planning Sydney's homework and studying Spanish so I can keep up with her and keep her up with the class. The averageness of a walk through the back yard, humming the old hymns from childhood.

I think a lot of this was brought on by the news that a family friend from my childhood had passed. I remember his youngest daughters, who were near my age. His oldest daughter played piano at church. She was well studied and very classical in her playing. Her mother, on the other hand, played piano at the church sometimes and her playing was more country piano with trills and runs and notes that didn't show on the page. I'm not sure she read the music so much as felt it flow out of her fingers. Her interpretation of the hymns made your soul want to move and your hands want to wave and your feet want to dance in praise. But that just wasn't done in the conservative Baptist church I grew up in and while I know lots of people enjoyed her playing, I don't think she was the first choice of many of the choir directors that came and went. I loved that old gospel feel to the music, tho and can remember being caught up in the celebration of it.

Precious mem'ries.



Becky said...

The quilts are beautiful. Makes a bright spot in a dreary, rainy day here. Hey, did y'all get some rain? I heard Texas had gotten some.....and wish you could get some more to get out of that nasty drought.

I have a cousin that plays the kind of music you love....and I do to!! When she plays a hymn you can't help but smile great big!! I think you are right in thinking that style of playing is innate. I know she had lessons, but the things she played weren't taught.

I hope you have a great day!
Love ya! Becky

Bratling said...

My mother was raised by a seamstress and a quilter. :) My grandmother was fabulous at both, and mom swears that she can't quilt for beans. All of us had quilts, because my grandmother made all of the girls Sunbonnet Sues and the boys either boats or airplanes. I didn't start until my niece and nephew came along and then I learned just how sewing clothes and toys did not mean that I knew how to make quilts. My first two attempts aren't fantastic, but a quilting class later, my next eight actually start to look like I know what I'm doing! (They're nowhere near as good as yours, though, Lane!)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I read your blog almost daily. The Sunflower Pattern is called Missouri Daisy, and I believe that the pattern can be found in a small book by Leisure Arts called Scrap Quilts from the Depression. I think it is also in a larger book of theirs as well. The pattern is also in a book by Lila Lee Jones, called Heartland Quilts: Rescued Treasures from the Midwest. It is currently available on amazon.com for $14.95... Jay in Nebraska

Shay said...

I loved looking at some of your quilts Lane. There really are some beauties there with such history.

Quilting is nowhere near as popular in Australia as it is in the US. We don't have the fabulous rich quilting history you have either. today's quilters are making the history of the future!

Anonymous said...

I know that quilt pattern as Amish Dahlia. I do have a copy of the pattern. pg 194 of the Encylopedia of Classic Quilt Patterns by Leisure Arts.

I just want to say I love your blog Lane. It's one of the ones I always come back to read. Helen

lw said...

I love this post! I do hope you find time to fix the back of the sunflower quilt, that one is really great.

Anonymous said...

I grew up sleeping under army blankets. Not nearly as pretty as quilts.