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Friday, June 27, 2014

Vintage quilt treasures

           Like many quilters, I love older quilts. The beautiful, intricate works of art that we see in museum are wonderful, but so are the homely, worn, tattered utility quilts that have somehow managed to survive.
            I am lucky to come from a long line of quilters. My mother was a wonderful sewer, and while she didn’t quilt a lot, she did make some quilts. She also made most of the clothes for herself and three daughters and did beautiful embroidery and crochet. In her senior years, my grandmother constantly pieced quilts (including the one I am quilting now). While I am not lucky enough to have any of her quilts, I know my grandfather’s mother also quilted.
          This brings me to my treasure box. I am not sure where the items all came from, but my sister gave them to me and they had been at my mother’s house. I am sure that some of the items came from my grandmother, but it looks like my mom added some items.
          First there are stacks of piecing and quilting templates.

                     Some, as you can see are cut from old boxes. One has the name of my grandfather's sister, who died before the mid-1950s. Others have instructions, like "two white" or "place on fold". Many have been well used and have frayed edges.

 There are also other patterns, like a sunbonnet pattern from Grit magazine , which was a weekly newsprint magazine targeting rural families. There are quilt patterns from newspapers and advertisements to send for pattern books. Unfortunately, there are none of the pattern books.
          There is this large tissue paper pattern, which I assume is for hand quilting.
                There are also a variety of quilt squares. I am not sure who made them, but I am sure, from the sewing, that they are the work of several people over a number of years.

There are a good many nine patch and other small blocks
This looks like pretty old fabric. Notice the one square is a different fabric.
                           There is this beautiful, but torn, cut work cloth and this stained applique.                               The stitches on the applique are tiny

This is obviously a beginner' try at Drunkards Trail,
There are gathers in the curves.

I am not sure what I am going to do with these treasures. I would like to put together and quilt some of the smaller patches. Someone has suggested to frame some of the templates, which I think is a great idea. Maybe I could include some of the fabric pieces. Anyway, I am just glad they were not thrown away and that I can try to save them for future generations.


  1. It's funny to see what gets passed on or not depending on who is passing on the quilting goods. When we got engaged, my future father in-law randomly stated that there was a quilt that was made for my husband by his grandmother for when he got married. He was a late bloomer and was 38 when we wed. It was hand appliqued, hand quilted with a crochet edge. (Clearly, I was ecstatic) It was dated for the year he turned 15. A few years later when I was pregnant with our 1st born, he remembered there was "a baby blanket" which turned out to be a twin sized, hand appliqued & embroidered cowboy theme quilt made by his other grandmother. To him they were "just a couple of blankets".

  2. What a treasure! You could always make a wall hanging with them and maybe include some pictures of your mother and grandmother, etc. A memory quilt!

  3. How special! I bet you had a blast looking through everything. I always wonder who used them, and what they were thinking, what was going on in their life, where did the fabrics come from, etc.

  4. Oh I hope you do preserve these special gifts from the past. They are precious.

  5. What an incredible treasure trove of heirloom "stitchery items" you have been given charge of. I too have many such items. We would all love to preserve these treasures, but how can we do it in a meaningful, useful way. I would love to hear further input on this.

  6. It is so wonderful to have these old things and to know some of their history. I have a few things like that and I wonder what to do with them too. But they are lovely to look and and feel the history in them.

  7. Isn't it fun to preserve what our ancestors used. I noticed in the photo of the little gadgets that the one on the top right is a circular disk from a cookie cutter gun. I have that same piece in my cookie cutter set that my grandma gave me. It's funny the things that will be used for quilt projects. In the past have used alot of the bigger cookie cutters for specific quilting designs in small places, like angels or rocking horses.

  8. Hello, I am searching for a bird quilt pattern that was put out in Grit in the 70's. My grandmorther lost this pattern in a fire in the late 70s. It was all hand and the bird was on an angeled kinda branch that only came out the bottom . I have found several which non have been the correct 1. So I would grealty appreciate any help I could get on this hunt. I can tell my speaking to my granny that finding this pattern would mean so very much. Thank You all for any help you can give.


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