Friday, July 8, 2011

Q is for...

Q is for...quiet, quaint, quack, quit, quilt

Q is for quilt.

When my great aunt died at the age of 96, my sister and my father drove to Lubbock to clean out her house. Among the things they came back with were handmade quilts and quilt tops that hadn't been quilted yet. My sister took first pick considering she was the one who made the trip but I got a few of them too.

Quilting is not something I ever learned or rather something I ever did since I know how to quilt. But knowing how to do something and actually doing it are two different things.

Here's how you make a quilt: cut fabric into little pieces, sew them all together, get some padding, get a length of cloth for the other side, put the padding between the pieced side and the other side and sew them together with small stitches done in designs.

Quilting has a long history and quilts are in fact sometimes a recording of history. They are functional memories of favorite dresses or certain events or family stories or pretty pictures. Their making was often a social event. Now quilts are recognized as an art form.

Back in the early years of my marriage I decided I was going to make a quilt. This idea was probably germinated by the receipt of some of my great aunt's quilts though I had made some bed coverings, a couple of afghans and a comforter, in the past. And I had a long history with cloth. You might remember my post about sewing.


Marc and I had several pairs of worn out blue jeans so I decided I was going to do a State of Texas quilt. The state was going to be pieced together by counties with the bluest of the jeans for the wettest counties and fading to the most faded parts of the jeans for the driest counties. The state was to be bordered with representative images.

Do you know how many counties Texas has?


Cut and stitched out of blue jean material which, even worn out, is still thick.

Sometimes I think I need to have my head examined. Even using a machine, which I was, it was tough going. I managed to get about two thirds of the state stitched together before I gave it up. It wasn't the debilitating back spasm the last session at the sewing machine gave me but the thought of having to actually quilt the damn thing if I ever got it pieced together.

It's probably still up in the attic somewhere, abandoned along with all the other stuff I didn't want but couldn't get rid of.

The quilts I got from my great aunt were all hand stitched. Two of the tops I used for curtains for years until they deteriorated from the sun. We used the three or four finished quilts until they absolutely wore out, the fabric finally getting so thin that the stuffing was coming out.

I wish I had taken better care of them now. Maybe. I suppose I would still have them but what good would they be, put away in a drawer?

I guess it's better to be used up with love than to be stashed safely away.


  1. Your aunt will live around for a very long time, as you and your sister use her quilts and talk about her life. I appreciate the handiwork of a quilt, especially one that has a new design that means something to the sewer.
    You are lucky with these finds.

  2. Beautiful post. When I think of quilting I imagine a group of women together, laughing, gossiping, doing the work in ensemble.

    Otherwise it's just too hard!

  3. I remember quilting with my grandmother when I was very young. Such tedious work, I don't know how anyone can do it.
    Lovely quilts you show there. I like to use quilts as tablecloths. Of course, they tend to wear quickly that way. ;)

  4. I don't know how to quilt, but I admired people who take the time to put all the shapes and thoughts into one piece. My Piano Man's mother made me a beautiful quilt(that turns into a pillow) for my birthday. I love thinking that she took all that time to make something pretty and useful for me (I need a pillow when I write).

    I can't wait to see Texas!

  5. Laurel Ann made the quilt I sleep under every night.

  6. Beautiful quilts! What makes them so special is they were made by hands you loved.

    I detest hand sewing. My first and only attempt at quilting was proudly shown to Mom and Dad. They were quiet too long. Then I heard, love the colors, great pattern and my, what big hand work is not done by me!

  7. I think quilting is not just something to be viewed as a quaint old pass time but if you look at why women made the quilts and how they went about it then it serves as a window in to past times and the way the world was. Today if we want a cover for the bed we just get some anonymous person on the other side of the world to make it without any care and love with goodness knows what and instead of it saving money it actually costs you money, on the up side though it does leave people with more time to do something useful like watch TV! Another thing about the family made quilts that I like is that each square can be made of a memory like for instance that square there is made from the shirt I was wearing when I dated my first love. Well it was a very nice post with brill pics.

  8. Quilting is so much like a metaphor for life. Love quilts!!

  9. I really enjoy the artwork of quilts.Here we have barn quilts that deplict a favorite pattern the maker has used. I like the names for them also.

  10. "i guess it's better to be used up with love than to be safely stashed away." i could wish for so many people to know the strength of those words. steven

  11. My mom "saved" so many things and never used them. Always waiting for the day when she would have a nice enough house, or when she would have the right people over. When she died, the china my Dad had bought for her in Europe while in the Navy was still in the box. She open it and looked at on piece. A silk bedspread, never used. All these treasures she had stored away to use when the time was right. I use whatever I have and enjoy it. If it wears out, then I replace it with another item I can enjoy. I made two quilts for my girls. I love to sew, but I didn't enjoy quilting as much as other things I make.

  12. That philosophy is why I didn't register for fine china when I got married - my Lennox everyday dishes are beautiful & used every day, like they should be.

    We have a quilt made by one of Mike's grandmothers. I LOVE it because it was made in the 70s & is a crazy quilt of wild polyester. It's such a sign of that time. I should get it out & take a picture. We don't use it because it's not big enough for our bed. If we ever had a guest room though that sucker is going on that bed!

  13. I admire those who can quilt.. I know I'm not.. errr.. cut out for that sort of craft. I agree with you about using it with love rather than packing it away somewhere. I would imagine that even a small part of it would be salvageable for a framing or some such thing.

  14. THanks so much for the pics of the beautiful quilts. I love quilts, cannot quilt myself. I know how to and have done more patching of quilts than anything else.
    My daughters all have quilts from my mother. And they love them.
    But I agree. It's best to be used and loved than left in a drawer to waste away.
    Loved reading this. Barb

  15. wow - those quilts are lovely

  16. I can't hold things I don't use. I always think the same thing. What use is it to me in a drawer or cupboard. I used to quilt. I have none. Honestly, I am okay with that.

  17. I understand that people want to store quilts away, but I agree they should be used and loved. I can't even imagine making a quilt out of denim. I had callouses from quilts I made with ordinary cotton. I haven't made one for years, but now that I'm going to have a grandbaby, I'm getting ready to start a new one. It will be a flying geese pattern. I'm excited.

  18. These quilts are beautiful and "real" looking - in that you can see people's clothes in the scenes. One of my most favorite memories is sitting underneath the quilt as all of my great aunts, my grandmother, and great-grandmother quilted. I could hear them talking - all in German, as that is the only language my great-grandmother knew. I was one of the only great grandchildren to get one of the quilts, as I had lost my mother to cancer at age six. Unfortunately, when my great grandmother took me to the trunk to pick one out - I picked bright lime green! It is still beautiful however, as was the sentiment.

  19. THIS is what I miss the most. Sewing and quilting.

    We have some beautiful ones, but not enough that there will be a few left out when I die.

    I miss designing and the colors and my machine and hoop......

    Now I want to see your Texas quilt. Or what you have of it....please? Sounds awesome.

  20. This is a beautiful post. Lately I have begun to think about making a quilt; it's been a few years and I'm terrible at it. It helps to be a perfectionist and I'm not.

    I like the photographs here. The patterns and the texture of the fabric really come through.


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