My Grandma Currie was a prolific maker of things. Sewing, knitting, quilting, jewelry, stained glass, pottery, watercolor, drawing…there wasn’t much she didn’t do. My dad and his sisters recently finished sorting out my grandparents’ estate and I was lucky enough to get three quilts. The first is my favorite. I absolutely adore this quilt. My Aunt Sue says “I remember the farm quilt vaguely. It was a model for creating a series of appliques when I was a young teen.” Therefore the quilt was my grandmother’s design (not a surprise) and probably from the early 70’s.
My grandma used all sorts of different fabrics and embroidery stitches to give the blocks tons of personality. Some of the details were even terrycloth – probably cut from an old towel! The quilt has clearly been worn. My mom helped me to get out all of the discoloration and staining that was possible without damaging the old fabric. I have plans to re-attach and strengthen some of the parts that are falling apart, though I want to keep my intervention minimal as to help the quilt maintain its original charm.
The second quilt that I received was a bit more of a mystery. There were two similar basket quilts and one went to one of my cousins. The blocks are cotton and muslin in 30’s-40’s fabrics but the backing and batting is polyester. I’m guessing that my Grandma’s mother Belva originally made all of the blocks and my grandmother joined them and quilted the quilt entirely by hand.
The quilting is a bit unusual – it looks like perhaps it’s supposed to be fence posts between the baskets, or perhaps just an angular design. My mom and I talked about adding in more quilting to strengthen the quilt, but I have no interest in hand quilting and adding in machine quilting would dramatically change the quilt, so I’m going to keep it as is. It may not last forever (well, the backing will because it’s polyester!) but it will be used and loved and I think that’s more important in this case.
Finally, I was given an infant bed set consisting of a blanket and pillow sham. It’s pink silk and has birds quilted into it with some embroidered flowers for decoration. I don’t know much about it, but there was a hand-written note from my grandmother pinned onto it that I can’t find for the life of me right now, but I think it said that it was made by my grandmother’s aunt. I need to talk to my aunts to see if they can shed any more light on its history!
Do you have any family heirloom quilts? How do you balance senitmentality with putting them to good use?