Whenever I think of the word quilt it brings to mind two specific quilts, before I move on to all the other quilts I’ve known as well as the people who make them.
One is a vibrant large Tumbling Block pattern quilt my maternal Grandmother pieced for me before she died. I was My mom had the Ladies Aid Society of Grandma’s church find the edging and quilt it. I remember playing in the basement of the church. She made a quilt for each of her grand daughters. I was born in 1957 and she passed away in 1960 at the age of 77. I don’t think I will be doing hand quilting when I’m in my mid-70s. The fabrics she used for this quilt were new.
The other one I think of is a very, very heavy patchwork, crazy quilt made of used fabrics by my paternal great grandmother. The fabrics were dark but richly colored, heavy winter-worthy fabrics. Bits of thread tied into knotted bows joined the layers of fabric together. It had no quilted overstitching. There was one piece of red fabric in it that was quite irregularly shaped; I love that little piece of material. I used to wonder whose dress it was from and what wonderful things she might have done while wearing it. There were velvets and all sorts of textures. I loved it.
My paternal grandmother died three years before I was born, so I never had the chance to ask her who made it or where the fabric came from.
I said it was a heavy quilt. It really was. It was almost like sleeping under a weighted blanket, like the ones that are popular now.
I slept in the unheated upstairs of a farmhouse. That is how lot’s of farmhouses were built at the turn of the 19th to 20th Century. That quilt kept me toasty warm, except for my nose. Being kept warm by the clothes of previous generations was comforting in a way that is difficult to describe. For me, there was a palpable continuity from previous times and peoples through this bedding.
I have been told that old heavy quilts sometimes have other quilts inside them almost like a batting. At the end of this post on the Southern Charm Quilts, a quilt inside that the author mended a quilt is discussed.
There is also the old heated discussion about underground railroad quilts. Some say quilts were used as signaling devices on the Underground Railroad. Others say that while this is a lovely story, there just isn’t evidence to support the use of this code before or during the civil war. I tend to believe what the Smithsonian has to say about historical topics. Read the Smithsonian Folklife article and see what you think.
I’m not a quilter myself, but I love sewing handiwork.