Speaking of Aunt Ebba’s old quilts…

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 Aunt Ebba's Funky Quiltgreen 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!

– Mary

See another one of Ebba’s quilts on my post Faded Pansies.


About thecuriousquilter

Quilter, sewer, writer, gardener, mother, sister, friend, always learning, always curious.
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5 Responses to Speaking of Aunt Ebba’s old quilts…

  1. Alice Hamilton says:

    I love the new blog! I have often wondered about the origins of various quilts passed on to me. I wish there had been documentation. I still have the quilt I took to college. Shabby as it is now, it still conjures fond memories of my mom describing the colorful dresses, aprons, and shirts for which the fabric was originally used. I also have a little doll quilt made by my grandmother that has become a dresser scarf. I need to spend some time soon documenting for future generations the few quilts I have made.

  2. J. Johnson says:

    Says my friend: seeing the quilts reminds me of being around my maternal grandmother, she was a quilting woman with other ladies from her Lutheran church in hutch, the quilting frame being in her living room when we went to visit, the muted floral fabrics, each quilt is suppose to tell a story… So nice!

  3. Patty says:

    I never saw quilts in our homes growing up, but cherish a couple of old beat up ones found at estate sales.

  4. Pingback: Faded Pansies | The Curious Quilter

  5. Pingback: The Quilt that Gretchen Made: the beginning | The Curious Quilter

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