Monday, April 27, 2009

My Great-Grandma's Quilt

This is a beautiful quilt that my grandmother had on her own bed for a number of years:
It was made in two sections. The sixteen middle squares looked very old, and were made of what I now know is "mourning prints" and black-and-white "shirtings:"
Then, in 1972 (as the back of the quilt is marked), my grandmother put a row of squares around the outside in what I am sure was an attempt at matching, but were of [horrid] polyester prints:

I am very afraid I judged her. And I had only just begun to learn to sew, and didn't know much about fabric myself! Of course, all-cotton prints were quite rare in 1972, the new "age of perma-press" and, my grandmother's *other* favorite fabric: Polyester Double-Knit. Now I know that it was the very best "match" she could find at the time.
Here is a close-up of the older portion. As you can see, the fabrics are fraying (grandma let us sit on her bed, etc. and the quilt shows the ravages of heavy usage):

I have to show you the back, as well. Grandma loved "novelty" fabrics, and she gave that love to me, as well. I have one of her quilts that is backed with a fabric with the words Sneak-ease all over. Later, I owned a pair of sneakers that were lined with that same fabric!
Here we have The Jungle Book (from the original movie release era). This fabric is repeated all over the back:

I received this quilt from my mother, who got it when Grandma broke up housekeeping. This is what she wrote:
"center section made by Great-Grandma Lee before 1955 [the year of her death, and my birth]. Outer border made by Grandma Plasterer 1972."
I had no idea that anything survived that was made by my great-grandmother (for whom I was named, as well!) I was thrilled beyond words to have this heirloom.
When I laid it across our bed to show Charming, he wanted to keep it there. He really liked the geometric black-and-whiteness of it. But the center section was fraying, and I knew we'd lose it entirely before too many years passed. So I told him that I would reproduce it sometime.
Fortunately, by then, quilt shops were carrying many reproduction prints, and I was able to get a number of them that are literally almost exact matches to the originals. As is typical of *me,* I usually have more ideas "cooking" than I have time to do. The fabrics I bought have dates from 1996 to 2000. But Now is the Time for me to begin this project.
I'm piecing this quilt by hand, as the original is. I have finished two squares:
I am Extremely Pleased with the results. This is going to be Fun. I will piece these squares as I am able, at home or while "waiting" for kids. It will probably take me several months to finish.
One more thing I wanted to share about this quilt. I looked up the pattern, and it is called Barbara Frietchie Star. Do you remember the poem? "Shoot if you must this old grey head/but leave your country's flag, she said." Read about her here.
My great-grandmother's name was Barbara. My name is Barbara. So I am going to name my quilt "Barbara Star." And I have let my children know that if any of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren are named after me, she will get the quilt.
But no pressure, kids.


Anonymous said...

I love this post--just as I love this quilt! Glad you're moving on with this project.

Also, what about those quilt squares Aunt R. gave you? We need to do something with those (mounting them, or something).


jAne said...

Lovely post and the quilt is beautiful (even with the poly fabrics). How special that you now own something of your great grandmother. :o)


Blondie ~ Vintage Primitives said...

I love this quilt. You've named it aptly.