I am very curious about the quilts we have all inherited.
Scattered out amongst my cousins and siblings are several quilts made by our Great Aunt Ebba. I never met her, but feel a bond with her because of our shared love of making quilts and playing with color. She dabbled in many styles, some are really exquisite, others more functional. From the fabrics and patterns she used, I would say she started making quilts in the 1910’s and continued for at least 40 years, but that is a guess.
One sibling has a double wedding ring quilt Ebba made, with white muslin background. All the fabrics have a distinctly 1930’s men’s shirts (or PJ’s) look to them. There are probably about 50 different fabrics in it. I am quite certain that she only purchased the muslin new, the rest came from recycling family clothing. It is hand quilted, but still a rather “down home functional” quilt despite the pattern. Several other old quilts have disintegrated to the point that they have been reinvented into pillows, or found their way into the great quilt beyond.
My personal favorite is definitely one that she used purchased fabric, or else had a few VERY full gathered skirts to draw from! It has alternating pieces of that classic 1940’s muted green with only three or four prints, and bordered with a perfectly matching plaid. But the colors are a bit funky, the prints are mostly purples and reds, with a few splashes of blue and yellow. And the shape of each piece is a quadrilateral: four sides, the angles total 360 degrees, no parallel sides, in case geometry has drained out of memory. It is machine pieced, batted with heavy wool, backed in that red/white/green plaid, and tied with wooly yarns. It suffered some shabby repair under a previous caretaker, but remains a very solid and useful quilt, and WARM! I have no idea why she made this particular quilt, but it is very different from most of her others.
Did she choose a design because the template was published in a paper? I wonder if she shopped for the fabric just to make the quilt, as finding the right matches in the quantity needed from leftovers seems unlikely. Did she do all the ties alone, or did a friend or sibling help her?
There are many stories behind every old quilt we touch, but most we have to imagine. Keep looking at your old quilts! The hands that touched them shared a love of creating things that quilters today still have. Be curious, but if you can’t learn their actual stories, feel free to reimagine their creation!
See another one of Ebba’s quilts on my post Faded Pansies.