A Quilt Tale

Many years ago my grandmother loved to piece quilts.  She worked in several different dress shops, and was a beautiful woman, who knew it too.  She loved to piece quilts, but she didn’t like to quilt them.  As far as I know, she did make me a baby quilt, but all her other work was quilt tops only.  Fifty years ago, she was forced to leave her home, she had developed throat cancer, from fabric dust, they thought at the time,  and move into a trailer in my Momma's back yard.  She and granddaddy lived there but not for very long.  She suffered the effects of surgery, and lost her ability to speak, after having a feeding tube inserted for her food.  She died in April that year, and sadly enough granddaddy died exactly sixty days later, to the minute, of a broken heart, my family believed. He was sixteen years older than her, but did not want to go on without his beautiful wife.

When they died, her children divided up their few belongings.  They had never had much to begin with, but he had been crushed in a mine roof fall several years before, and on crutches the rest of his life.  Her disease, and surgery had taken the rest of what little money they had had.  Their small house had sold to pay for the trailer, and there was little left after that.  Her illness finished all that remained.

My Momma was the oldest girl, and what came to her were a few blue willow dishes, and the quilt  tops that grandmother had made.  There were seven of them.  There were six of us kids and my Momma decided that each one of us kids would get one when we married.

I was the youngest, and the last to marry.  She let me pick the one I wanted, and I did, a pretty blue one, made out of  slick drapery remnants.  After I married, I kept it in a cedar chest, just like my Momma had. Oh, every once in awhile I would get it out, and air it, and re-roll  it in a different way.  But I kept it dry, and out of the light for the most part.  I always assumed at some point I would quilt it myself.  I dallied with that notion for years, but never followed through.

About ten years after getting the first top, we were going through her cedar chest one day, and came across the seventh quilt top.  That day she gave it to me too, right now I honestly don’t know why, but it came up, and she did. I guess she thought I might actually quilt it too.   Always after that I fancied I would quilt them, but never tried.  I honestly felt  I would ruin them, both with  small delicate hand stitched all cotton squares.  I was intimidated by the prospect.  Even with hoops, batting, and other fabric, and years of utility stitching, and baby blanket making, deep in my heart I knew I could not do them justice.

Last year, I told my Sweetie, I’m going to quilt them or else.  I felt restless over getting it done.  I even went so far as to buy new quality batting, and backing fabric for them.  You know though, sometimes things that take a long time, will change all of a sudden, and shift.  It takes you by surprise, and then you wonder why you were so stressed over it to begin with.

My daughter in law, her Mamaw had quilted for years on a long arm quilter before she had died.  Her Mom had taken the machine out of state to her home.  The week after I had bought all the supplies, she suddenly showed up delivering quilts she had sold on a face book yard sale site.  When I saw her, it popped into my head to ask her to do it.  Kind as she was,  she agreed, and right  before Christmas she came here bringing the blue beauty with her.  I never saw one any prettier.  She brought that quilt to life with a pretty navy blue backing, and a fine job of work.  She had no instruction, even though her Mom had made quilts for years.  So she has had to learn from the ground up.  She used her own things, none of which I bought, but that is fine.  The only thing I asked her was to put borders on it because otherwise a lot of quilts just feel like they are falling off the bed without them.

This past week, she came in again, bringing in a quilt for my daughter in law's birthday.  She brought me the other one this time, a beauty in red, yellow, and white.  After all these years, the quilts are complete. I am thrilled to say the least.  After enjoying them for a bit, they will once again be going into the cedar chest.  This time to be kept back for my own two grand children.  It is ironic that they will receive them.  Made by hand by their own great great grandmother, on their daddy’s side,  and quilted on their great great grand mother’s machine on their mommy’s side,  by their maternal  grandmother after their paternal grandmother had kept them forty years in her cedar chest, and that their great grandmother had kept in her cedar chest  for ten years after her mother had died.  I am constantly amazed the way life goes full circle sometimes.  She did all the work , hours of it for free, because she said “ for all this”  meaning us taking care of her family for her. You never know what God has planned, just to bless you.  Just because He loves you.

Everyday is a gift, make the most of it you can.



Laura Lane said…
I am so very happy for you Annie! That's just wonderful. Enjoy!
Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage
A truly wonderful legacy and beautiful quilt! There are fabric labels one can purchase and write the story then attach to the back of the quilt. A way of keeping the story alive for generations to come.
There's a woman in Honaker who long arm quilts and her prices are Very Reasonable.
Little Penpen said…
I came over via Laura Lanes blog. These quilts are beautiful. What wonderful treasures you have!

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