Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Quilter's ABC--O is for OLD Quilts

The ABCs week by week! What fun!
Mrs. Nesbitt started it.
It now continues with an anthology version and Mr. Linky.

O is for Old Quilt Tops.

You've already seen the quilt my Grandmother made me here in G is for Grandmother. Here are some other older pieces.


Clues in the Calico is the title of a book about fabric history. Longtime quilters can give a pretty good estimate of the age of a quilt from the fabrics as well as the block pattern, the quilting style, and the kind of batting used.


The fabrics in this quilt top peg it as probably from the 1930s or maybe early in the 1940s. Of course, a quilter might have saved bits and pieces from a number of years--from the good parts of worn clothing or from feed and flour sacks. Yes, feed sacks were very important sources in depression times. When it was time to stock up on flour again, a good wife might be very selective about which sack to purchase. She would want to gather several of the same design to make a dress.

The hexagon shapes were also popular in those times. They are less so now because they are nearly impossible to construct by machine, though many modern quilt addicts like to have one in the process to have along to work on while waiting for appointments or watching the kids' soccer game. This quilt top I purchased in an E-bay auction a few years ago is not the traditional Grandmother's Flower Garden arrangement--one reason that I think it would have been made in the 40s.
This OLD quilt top may have been made by my grandmother or else one of my aunts. Why was it never finished? Good question. The block design is Shoo Fly--(A shoofly was a child's rocking chair.) but look how different it looks with a different contrast in that upper right hand block.
Shirtings were commonly used in the later part of the 19th century, but I don't think this top is that old.
Did Grandma make it? Or Aunt Betty? Or Aunt Bessy? This top was given to me by my cousin Patsy. As a child she had the privilege of watching Grandma at the quilting frame. She didn't know who had done this one--it probably was passed down to her from her parents.
My guess is one of the aunts. Can you see this lady not finishing something?

There are other clues that can help to date old quilts. I thought this one was done by my Grandmother, but I found a clue in the picture that makes me think it was Aunt Betty's work. Grandma did one for each son's wedding and for each of the grandchildren. This one was shared with me by my cousin Ruth and Betty was her mother.
Besides the late 40s fabrics, the embroidered autographs of family members help me date it as too late for Grandma to have made. Perhaps Aunt Betty made it for Ruth's wedding. The clue? Ruthie's autograph has her married name.


Anonymous said...

I am amazed yet again. This is such an absorbing subject - and I thought spinning and weaving absorbing.

Sandi McBride said...

These are such beautiful and quality quilttops...thanks for sharing them...and no, I can't see that lady leaving one stitch on the needle or one knot left hanging...

Liz said...

Incredible again.
It is amazing how the same patterns in different shades can look competely different.

RuneE said...

I see that there is more to quilting than meets the eye, so to speak.

Mary said...

These are wonderful! How fortunate you are to have them. I didn't even know that my grandmother quilted until after she was dead. She crocheted afghans in my lifetime. I have one old piece that she quilted...a runner...and her stitches were so tiny and perfect! I wish I knew more about her qulting! I love seeing old quilts like these that are still in good shape. I didn't know that a shoo-fly was a child's rocker....I always wondered about that name!

PERBS said...

You must have a lot of room to display your quilts! The hexagon one is beautiful and I can imagine it all being sewn by hand. I think you have enough quilts to publish a book. Many are heirlooms and you might think about making a book for your family/relatives at least.

Daryl said...

I just love how these quilts combine both family history and such impressive talent in quilting.

What a collection you have, Katney, I am truly envious


Neva said...

Hi Katney! I have a very small piece of quilt left that my great grandmother made for my mom when she was little.....from the 1930's. I love your quilt..(did I ever tell you that I work in a school library?)

Bear Naked said...

Your photos have brought back memories of sleeping at my grandmother's house under similar quilts.

Bear((( )))

Dragonstar said...

Before starting to read your ABC posts I had no idea of what a huge subject quilting is. You're educating me well.

earthlingorgeous said...

Wow! Lovely quilts! You are so lucky to have those lovely quilts your granny made. She would be so proud that you are so proud of her work. O-some O-post! I learned something new again! Thanks for sharing.

becky voyles said...

Such Beautiful quilts, Katney. I needed one of them on the foot of my bed last night! LOL

ChrissyM said...

These quilts have such history. Thank you for sharing this with us. Glad to have you part of the ABC Wednesday community and look forward to your post next week!

photowannabe said...

Beautiful heirloom quilts. How wonderful to have them in your home. Great choice for the letter O.