Quilting, Farming, Variety

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Old Quilts

There's just something about old quilts that we admire isn't there? Maybe it's the fabrics, the colors, or the fact that most were probably pieced and quilted entirely by hand, and most likely done by the light of a kerosene lamp. And if they were done by machine it would have been a treadle machine. There's the chance they were quilted by more than one woman. Quilting bees were a special social gathering for women of days gone by; something akin to our modern day quilting guilds.

I believe this lone star quilt is a real testimony to the talent of the woman who pieced and quilted it. It's amazing how well the points are matched! It is quilted in a large fan pattern. Upon close inspection the fabric seems to be from dyed feed sacks, both top and lining. This old quilt was found underneath a mattress, lying on top of metal springs, so it's a wonder that it only has a few rust spots on the lining. One other thing which seems to be common in the old quilts is the size; most were not really long enough to cover one's feet.

I love this quilt! It's a Trip Around the World pattern and doesn't seem to be made from sacks, but rather from smooth feeling fabrics. The colors are still fairly bright; just pale pastels to begin with. The lining suffers from a few rusty, torn places, which I feel could be mended. It is also larger than most old quilts; maybe that was the reason for the added border, to give it length. And, it's heavy! but I don't think it's put on top of another quilt, which was done sometimes; probably just the batting.

A very random, snowball pattern makes this quilt. The quarter circles, or snowballs, are string pieced. I imagine most of these fabrics are from feed sacks, although there may be a few broadcloth pieces. It appears to have been hand stitched.
Now this little quilt -- what can I say? The colors were very well thought out, the piecing is good, but somehow, it just doesn't seem finished; one corner is round, the opposite corner is pointed. I think it needed one more row of rings to make it symmetrical. But, no matter how that was, this quilt was very much used; loved to death, maybe? There are lots of frayed pieces; in the hands of certain people it might be recycled into stuffed bears, etc. I have taken parts of an old quilt and framed them, but I don't like to cut up these works of art.

We need to take quilts like these out of storage now and then to let the fold lines relax, as these lines become places where the fabrics may split. And that's true with our new quilts as well. I like to spread my new quilts out flat on the bed to let the fibers in the folds straighten, then when I put them away, I try to fold them in new ways. Ideally we'd have room to store them rolled up but no one has that much room.

Do your quilts need to go to the "beach" and relax?

Now, about yesterday's post: I didn't mean for it to turn into a sermon about thank you cards; however, it sorta seemed that way toward the end. As I said, it shows my age.


  1. I love your old quilts. I have always thought from things that I have read and heritage museums that I have been to that people and beds were shorter than they are now - that might be why the quilts wouldn't cover our feet now?

  2. It's a lot of fun to click on these old quilts to bring them up closer, and then just enjoy! I don't think even today's best quilters can ever duplicate the look and feel of these wonderful, old quilts.

  3. Where did those quilts come from? I don't think I've ever seen any of them. You'll have to take me on a quilt "tour" next time I make it over.