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The Story of a Quilt

November 6, 2010

Quilts fascinate me.  It’s as though there is something almost magical sewn into them, stitch by loving stitch…something that goes beyond mere functional warmth.  They’re crafted with such love, and every scrap of fabric carries its own personal story deep within its fibers. One of my favorite quilts has had a long and varied history, and was brought to life over a period of several decades by three women whom I love dearly.

This quilt actually began as humble kitchen curtains, stitched together by my maternal grandmother during the late seventies.  There are remnants from the mod mini-dresses worn by my mother and aunts, pieces saved from my grandfather’s well-worn work shirts, and scraps from my uncle’s outgrown pajamas.  There are even swatches of the fabric that was used to make my mother’s wedding dress.

Faded material saved by my grandmother from long-ago outfits.

My grandmother pieced together the patchwork for the curtains, but set them aside before completing them, so they were never hung in her home.  Instead, they were passed on to my mother, who finished the curtains, and they hung in our living room through my entire childhood.  Every autumn, summer’s light-weight curtains came down from the windows, were washed and packed away for the winter, and these patchwork curtains went up in their place.  They kept our home warm and cozy throughout the winter months, and acted as a colorful backdrop to our daily lives.

I remember standing by the windows, searching the panels for my favorite fabric square (an upside-down print of chestnut horses on a green field) and asking my mother to tell me yet again about the story behind one piece of fabric or another as I carefully pointed them out.

My son points out his favorite fabric -- a scrap from my uncle's childhood PJs.

One autumn the curtains didn’t go up as usual.  Instead, my mother purchased new curtains, deep brown tabbed curtains that looked wonderful in the newly-redecorated living room, but that lacked the history and character of the patchwork curtains.  Away at college, I was oblivious to the change until I arrived home for winter break.  I missed the familiar curtains, but when questioned my mother remained vague about why she decided to make this sudden, unexpected change.

On Christmas morning my brother, sister and I were handed similar large, soft packages and asked to open them simultaneously. What we discovered inside were twin-sized quilts, each created from two panels of our well-loved patchwork curtains.  That autumn, rather than hang them as she had every year, she had asked my Aunt Terri to turn them into quilts for each of us.

I cherish this worn, fading quilt.  I cherish the memories interwoven within it’s very fabric, and even more importantly, I cherish the women in my life – -my grandmother, mother, and aunt — who played such vital roles in it’s creation.

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I’m linking up with Dayle’s “Airing of the Quilts” blog party at A Little of This and That.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2010 8:17 pm

    Now that’s a quilt story! What an amazing journey for those two littel quilts, and the memories of what they represent is pricelss. They will only grow more precious with each passing year.

    Thanks so much for linking up.

    • November 9, 2010 8:58 am

      Thank you so much. I remember how pleased I was to recieve this quilt as a gift that Christmas day, but each year that passes I find myself appreciating what a priceless gift it truly was even more.

  2. November 6, 2010 8:19 pm

    I really do know how to spell. LOL! So sorry. You’d never know by looking at my comment typos.

  3. November 6, 2010 10:03 pm

    Great story behind the quilt… I am inspired to try this myself. What a beautiful way to recycle precious clothing with so many memories. Thanks for sharing!

    • November 9, 2010 9:12 am

      Thank you! I’ve been contemplating creating one myself, a little crib-sized one, with swatches of fabric from some of my son’s baby clothes. It just seems like such a beautiful way to preserve some sweet memories.

      Send

  4. November 7, 2010 9:07 am

    I enjoyed this sweet story of love. You are such a talented writer, and you are exactly right, quilts are patches that remind us of something special in our lives.

  5. November 7, 2010 9:16 am

    I love this quilt…the story behind it is wonderful. I think that is how quilts use to be….more from scraps of memories than from store bought pieces…even though I love the new quilts also.
    Enjoy this quilt and passing the story down to your children….what a heritage.
    Thanks for stopping by and seeing my quilt.
    Blessings

    • November 9, 2010 9:30 am

      They are a special heritage, aren’t they? I love how you worded this, that they’re made from “scraps of memories.” That’ exactly what I cherish so much about this particular quilt!

  6. November 7, 2010 4:46 pm

    Beautiful story! Would you believe I will soon be patching together a quilt just like this one with my step-mom?!? We discovered many family mementos in cleaning out my dad’s belonging after his death last spring & decided a quilt would be a fantastic way to preserve (& celebrate) the items & their stories. I can’t wait to pass them on to my boys some day.

    • November 9, 2010 9:43 am

      This brought tears to my eyes! What an amazing tribute to your Dad, and how wonderful that you’ll be creating it with your step-mom! I can imagine that you’ll be sharing so many stories and memories as you work together. I’d love to see photos of the quilt someday!

  7. November 7, 2010 6:13 pm

    What a precious quilt! Thank you for sharing the story and visiting my quilt story. I’ve read several other posts and just subscribed. I am looking forward to being a permanent visitor.

    • November 9, 2010 9:47 am

      Thank you so much for stopping by and poking around a bit! This is what I love so much about blogging — getting to know other women through their blogs. I have to tell you that I’m in absolute awe of the dogwood quilt that you’re recreating for your sister. It’s such a beautiful quilt, and the history behind the original makes it even more precious!

  8. November 7, 2010 8:22 pm

    What a precious and thoughtful gift from your mom ~ so full of memories! It is a beautiful, cheery quilt! A joy stopping by to visit with you!

    Kindly, ldh

    • November 9, 2010 10:16 am

      Thank you so much! This was such a wonderful gift, and one I’m still so grateful to have today. I feel so warmed, content, and connected to the women who created it when I’m curled up within it’s folds!

  9. November 10, 2010 12:19 am

    This is such a beautiful story. How amazing to have little memories from so many years ago!

  10. November 10, 2010 10:52 am

    What a wonderful history. Wasn’t that a great idea for your mother to have the curtains made into quilts? A treasure for certain.

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