Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A quilt every few days or so #19



Years ago, when we were living in Wisconsin, we came across a quilt in the trunk of Don's aunt's car. It was used for covering stuff in the trunk - or wrapping breakables - just an old quilt the aunts made. We asked if we might have it and Aunt Mary replied - "oh you don't want that old thing". Oh yes we do!!!!! And so she gave it to us - wondering what we would want with such a piece of junk.


The fabrics are from the Civil War era - and we are guessing that the quilt was made in the late 1800s or very early 1900s. Don's aunts were sisters that never married. They inherited a portion of their parents' farm and received a pension from their brother (Don's grandfather), who ran the farm after their parents were no longer able to.


The quilt was very old and worn - some of the pieces had completely disintegrated from the dyes eating up the fabric. Dyes were often made with metals to get their color and the browns were the worst for destroying the fabric.

Great Aunt Ella, Don's grandfather, Frank and Great Aunt Clara - as young children . . .


Don with his great aunts Ella and Clara . . . they adored him . . .


Don with his grandfather - one of my all time favorite photographs . . .

Great Aunt Clara as a young woman (look at that waist and the high collar) . . .

Don's grandfather, as a young farmer. He wanted, more than anything, to go to college and become a teacher, but duty bound him to taking over the farm and supporting his parents and sisters. . .

Aunt Ella

The great aunts lived together in a house in town, and were quite eccentric. At one time they had a spat and decided to divide the house in two, putting a line of tape down the middle - and neither could enter the others one's half. The bathroom was on Clara's side of the house so Aunt Ella had to have a door built into the bathroom so she could go out her door and enter the bathroom through the new door.

Ella was a seamstress and made a small living at sewing clothes. For a week or two each season she would also go to her brother Frank's house and sew new clothes for his three daughters. One of the daughters (Don's Aunt Mary) tells the story of the yellow dresses that Ella made for them. All three girls received brand new yellow dresses. As one of the sisters outgrew the yellow dress it was handed down. So Aunt Mary had her yellow dress, then her sister Irene's dress (Don's mother) and finally her sister Dorothy's dress, She was the youngest girl, and she said by the time she had outgrown the last yellow dress she was so sick of yellow that she swore she would never wear that color dress again - and she never did.

Ella and Clara in their later years . . .

Clara once entered a contest to sell the most subscriptions to the local newspaper - the prize being a brand new car. The problem was, Clara did not know how to drive. But she persisted and sold the most subscriptions and won the car. She then took driving lessons and learned to drive her wonderful car.

Oh - I'm back now, from that jaunt down memory lane . . .


Click on the photo to enlarge and see the damage to the fabrics - we can no longer use the quilt - it is simply displayed from time to time in our home . . .

I love the quilt, the fabrics and the memories of Don's family and decided that I wanted to reproduce the quilt. I searched for three years for the pink fabric. I found the white with red pin dots after a two year search. It is a fabric that comes into fashion and then disappears for a while. When Beccy was about two I made her a dress from the white/red pin dot fabric.

I found the pink on a website for searching for old fabrics. A quilt shop had 4 yards of it in the back room - a discontinued fabric - and I bought all of it, at a very reasonable price. The other fabrics I bought from Civil War Reproductions - some I traded my hand painted fabrics for, with other quilters, until I had enough to make the quilt. I used Civil War Shirting reproductions for the light fabrics in the fly geese. I received many of the shirtings in trade with our dear friend Deb, who passed away recently. I love that I have her fabrics in the quilt.

When I started making the quilt I discovered that there were not the same number of flying geese in each strip. I counted each row and averaged the number of flying geese and stuck with that number. The old quilt had been hand pieced from fabrics that must have come from remnantsof clothes Ella made, and old worn out pajamas, dresses and aprons.

The quilting in the old quilt was a wide "V" - going up and down with the points of the flying geese, but not always hitting them squarely. Since my quilt had the same number of flying geese in each row I was able to hand quilt the wide "V" evenly. making it hit the tops of the flying geese in a nice pattern.

The old quilt on the left and the new quilt on the right (before it was bound). I think they came out suprisingly similar. The new quilt was a gift to Bec and Jason and Ben one Christmas and it is used and loved in their family.



Our sweet little Ben playing on the quilt . . .

11 comments:

Pat said...

I really enjoyed this post...the stories...the pictures...and THEN how great to find out you reproduced that quilt. GREAT post!

luv2quilt2 said...

What a wonderful family story. My great aunt quilted, and as far as I know, the only one left is the one she made for me. It's quite worn, but I still love it. Your reproduction of the family quilt is beautiful.

Hand Quilting Nana said...

Thank you so much for sharing the quilts and the pictures and the story. Truly wonderful. I love hearing family stories like these.

Linda

Fearless Nester said...

What a great post Jo! All those pictures, that family history and the fun story about the feud between the Aunts. I really marvel at your perserverence in duplicating that quilt. And Aunt Clara's waist!!! WOW. ~Lili

Peg said...

What a wonderful story - how fabulous to have known the old aunts, and to preserve the memories.

kjquilts said...

What a wonderful post! I've got to read all the rest now.

Julie said...

I remember you collecting the fabrics but don't ever remember seeing a finished photo! Wow that is great and what a great family history. I do remember Deb sending fabrics too. The quilt is gorgeous!

Lynda (Granny K) said...

What a wonderful project it must have been to do. I love the quilt and it's history.

Dena said...

How wonderful you are able to preserve precious family memories. I love reading the stories of each quilt you've made. I hope you're able to create a journal of them to pass along to the kids and grandkids as not only does it preserve family history, but it makes each quilt come to life. Thanks for sharing Jo.

Wilma NC said...

Very nice blog entry. I enjoyed the pictures and the story. The quilts did come out very close!! Nice job.

Crispy said...

Great post Jo!! I love that you reproduced this heirloom and created a new one for the family :0)

Crispy