Thursday, December 13, 2018

Heirloom quilts from Blog Readers

Mother's Wool Throw
Although my mother was a wonderful seamstress and the 4-H sewing leader when I was young, she was not a quilter.  However, she did make me a wool throw with square pieces sewn together with crochet stitches.  Several of the blocks are embroidered or appliqued with symbols of my young experiences.  Unfortunately, over the years moths got into the wool.  I have sealed it well and treated it to avoid the moths escaping to work on other things, but I can't bring myself to destroy her gift to me.

Drunkard's Path Pattern
The remainder of this blog is a real treat, with photographs and stories received from readers.  Jim Clopton asked, "What do you do with empty walls in a hallway?" and provided the answer with a quilt pattern called Drunkard's Path.  I guess Jim assumed that even a drunk could find his way down a hall!  

Some of the quilts shared in photographs and stories are imperfect, with stains and tears and fading, but they remain precious heirlooms from the grandmothers and great-grandmothers who made them.  Others were lovingly cared for and were passed to loved ones in like-new condition.  Janis Moore wrote to me:  "My mother made several beautiful quilts.  She gave each of my kids one of her quilts for a wedding gift."  Janis' mother was my Sunday School Teacher when I was a little girl, and she was a lovely lady.

Connie Watts' Grandmother's
Connie Watts wrote that she has several of her great grandmother's quilts, describing--"hand embroidered, bonnet girl (which I call Sunbonnet Sue), and a baby quilt she left in my hope chest when I was a little girl.  Each child and grandchild had three quilts that she made special.  The most special thing about a quilt is the weight and the feel of the fabric.  ...Grandmother used mainly flower sacks."  I had to share the picture with the amazing points.  We quilters know how difficult it is to get those sharp points!  

Rodney Smith shared:  "My grandmother and great aunts were quilt makers; however, my mother was also a dressmaker.  She even made a cashmere sport coat for me when I was in college."  I made my husband a tuxedo long ago that he wore to several important corporate events.  What I remember most about making that tuxedo was the eye strain of sewing on black!

Marcy Johnson's Grandma's
How pleased I was to receive a picture and note from Marcy Johnson, who wrote, "My mother's family was from Rossville [IL] and Manns Chapel is my favorite place on earth, next to my home."  She added, "Loving your journey!" referring to my manuscript about Isaac Werner, who was a druggist in Rossville in the 1870s.  Her picture is of a quilt for her Grandparents' 50th Anniversary, with signature blocks from friends and family.

Terry Navarro wrote:  "My mom was a wonderful seamstress--made my wedding dress, flower girl and maid of honor.  She could do anything.  Back in the day, the neighbor ladies would get together and tack a quilt-Grandma, LaLa, Grandma Rojas, Mrs Rosa.  It sure was fun to watch." 
Her comments led to several other comments from others about the dresses their mothers made for them when they were girls--including Maxine Howard and Marsha Thompson.  Those were the days when patterns were less than a dollar and fabric could be found in many stores, I'll bet!  Today, most fabric is to be found in quilt shops.

My mother-in-law, with a heart as generous as could be, made many coverlets for strangers.  She didn't piece the quilts, but she would buy the fabric panels with appealing scenes for children to fill with batting to tie as miniature comforters.  If she read in the newspaper about a sick or injured child, or a family that had lost everything in a house fire, she would find their address somehow (before internet searches) and send one of her little quilts for the children.  In so many ways, quilts are special, and the love that goes into the making is somehow passed along to the recipient--even for generations.

Thank you to everyone who shared stories and pictures, of which I received more than I had room to share but loved all of them.  I'll close with a comment sent by Phyllis McCart in response to last week's post about the sewing machines on which some of the pictured quilts may have been made.  Phyllis wrote:  "These vintage sewing machines are making a comeback!  I am a quilter (33 years) and these machines are being used.  The are sturdy, all metal parts.  Parts are available for repairs and replacements.  Quilters are loving them."  Mary Vandenburg added, "My mother made all my dresses on a sewing machine like this one (referring to last week's blog).  Oh, how I wish I still had it, even though I don't sew!"

As Alice McMillan Lockridge said in her note, these quilts are "a reminder of the life our foremothers lived.  They made work into art and their machines were beautiful too."

(You may click on the images to enlarge them, and you may scroll down to read the earlier blogs about quilts and the beautiful vintage machines.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sewing Machines from the Past

Advertisement from County Capital
In the Stafford County (Kansas) Museum permanent Quilt Exhibit, there are both hand sewn and machine sewn quilts, and part of the collection is a display of sewing machines. I was thrilled when I discovered a New Home machine--actually, two of them--in the exhibit!

From Isaac's journal, I know that he borrowed a sewing machine from friends to do some sewing for himself, but I do not know specifically what sewing he did.  Nor do I know what brand of machine he borrowed.  However, I do know from the County Capital newspaper ad shown at left that Gray & Co. in St. John sold New Home machines.

I had not realized from the newspaper advertisement what beautiful machines these were, but the ad is detailed enough to identify it as being the same model as the two in the exhibit.  They are lovely, with the beautiful trim on the wooden drawers, the name "New Home" in the metalwork of the pedal and both sides, and the intricate painting of the machine itself.

New Home Sewing Machine

There is also a Singer machine in the collection, ornamented with particularly beautiful and colorful painted designs.  

Because of the style and popular light wood of the 1950s and 1960s, another machine in the exhibit appears to me to come from the mid-1900s.  I am sure it was regarded as very modern and tasteful in its time, but the ornate older machines seemed to me to be the 'stars of the show' in the exhibit!

It is a wonderful collection to honor the many women through the years who salvaged scraps of fabric to transform into beautiful quilts, or bought fabrics to make a specific design as a family heirloom, some sewing their quilts by hand and others using machines like the ones on exhibit.  Many of the quilts in the collection were made by women who gathered with friends to quilt as a fundraising effort, raising money for various causes and beautifying the homes of whoever was fortunate enough to go home with the quilt.  The exhibit is worth the visit!

Remember, you can click on the images to enlarge.

(If you missed the 2 blogs preceding this week's blog, you may want to scroll down to enjoy the pictures of the beautiful quilts and the interesting stories about the quilts' creations.  Next week I will post the final blog in this quilting series, so if you have a story to share or a picture of an heirloom  family quilt be sure to send it to me soon.)