On a recent visit to spend Thanksgiving with my family I got the rare opportunity to spend some time with my parents and reminisce over days of old. My father is in the beginning stages of Dementia and I want to purposefully capture all the moments and memories that I can. I was helping mom to clean out one of her closets when I stumbled upon a tattered and torn quilt top. Being a quilter myself I knew that that quilt had to have a story. So, I asked mom what was the story behind this quilt top. She said ‘nothing to it dear. My mom made that when I was about 15 or sixteen years old. I even sewed a few of those pieces’.
It may not be nothing to it to my mom but here is what my fascinated brain picked up on. I am 51 years old and my mother had me when she was 19. So that means this quilt top is around 54-55 years old. My grandmother made this quilt top by hand and it apparently got quite a bit of use. I also learn this this quilt top was to be the main quilt or decorative quilt that goes on the top of the bed. I have another quilt that she made that is referred to as an under quilt. It is very heavy and meant to be for warmth and not necessarily aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The under quilt is made from heavier clothings, like suiting, coats and jackets. Raw cotton is sewn between the layers. It is heavy and Uber warm.
Decorative quilts were thinner and always displayed on the top of the under quilt. They were usually made from old clothing, tablecloths, flour sacks and curtains. Nothing ever went to waste! They were the ultimate recyclers. Grandma (died when I was only a few years old) would spend her evenings cutting up old clean clothes into whatever shape she needed for a quilt. When she had enough, she would begin sewing it all together. What is even more interesting to me is that before I begin a quilt, I have to read up on techniques, watch YouTube, thumbed through Pinterest and make several trips to the fabric store just to get an idea.
Well I am going to restore this quilt top. I will mostly take it apart and re-sew it back in the same shape. I plan to make it heavy by using denim and corduroy and maybe some wool. I’m so proud to be in possession of these quilts from my maternal grandmother. I will place my hands and needles where hers was. I will restore and cover my family with this quilt. We will tell stories and make memories while using the quilt and not merely looking at it.