Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Quilting Treasures and more

Last week I had the pleasure of giving a program and workshop to the Colorado Valley Quilt Guild in La Grange, Texas, home of the Texas Quilt Museum.
Just look at the quilt mural on the outside of the building! A beautiful old building dating from the 1890's has been restored to serve as a fabulous venue for quilt exhibits.
La Grange is about half way between Houston and Austin and well worth the trip should you be in either city. Exhibits change quarterly I think, so check their Texas Quilt Museum and take a peek. The current exhibit is America the Beautiful and in October will change to Stars.
I got away, also this month, for a 5 day retreat with my 19th Century Patchwork Divas.
 First time I had really sewed in months.
Most of the time I'm over at my parents house cleaning and sorting through 72 years of married life, and collecting all sorts of stuff from dishes to toys to matchbooks, tools and cookbooks.  What a job!
Here a few of the quilts from my parent's house...
This little 9 patch quilt is proof mom did quilt, not well, but did quilt. She hated quilting, but this was made with her mother, a doll quilt, so it was cherished. Mom was born in 1920 so the fabrics would date from mid to late '20s. The unbleached 'domestic' on the back and binding is super thin and loosely woven. 'Domestic' is what we call muslin today.

The Improved Nine Patch quilt may have been made by mom's mother or by a friend of hers that sold quilts in the 1930's for a few dollars each.  I horrified my mom by dying a white chenille bedspread yellow when I was a teenager. This quilt then went at the foot of my bed...loved it growing up. The picture is upside down and sideways, hmmm thought I fixed it.

The quilt below  belonged to my dad's paternal grandmother. Dad's mother NEVER quilted, but she did help teach me to sew. Grandmother Reed had a bunch of children, 3 who never married and lived with her on the farm. Either Aunt Hettie or Aunt Ella was blind, I can't remember which, but sewed and quilted anyway. I was too little to remember dad's grandmother, but I do remember his great aunts, dressed in long sleeved black dresses on the porch of their simple and pristine, but un air conditioned white farmhouse, surrounded by fields of cotton.  Hotter than you know what! Anyway, Grandmother Reed and two of her daughters made this quilt. Fabrics dates from the 30's.

Look at the mistake.  I have trouble with the notion that mistakes were on purpose. In this quilt I'd like to believe my blind great great aunt pieced the green block and my great great grandmother chose to leave it as it was.

Mom's mother did make this very scrappy hexagon quilt from all the dresses, shirts, aprons etc. she made from her family.  It is HUGE quilt. Mom did tell me that matching the fabric pieces and handing them to my grandmother was something she enjoyed. Thank goodness she enjoyed something related to fabric! Fabrics date throughout the 30's and early 40's, including some feed and sugar sacks.
Mother wasn't ever interested in her quilts like I was. For her they symbolized hard times. They made her sad, keeping most of them in a closet. Wish she could have seen the beauty in the quilts, the resilience of the makers to create something beautiful, as well as practical, during those hadr years of the Great Depression.
Had to include two photos of  some of mom's things that she loved. The china dolls were my grandmother's and her sister's when they were little girls in the 1890's. The burnt wood boxes are but a sew of mom's huge collection, dating from early 1900's to mid 1910's. The bulldog is a candy bank from when mom was a little girl.

Three more dolls and  other toys mom kept from her childhood. Don't you love her doll sized kitchen cabinet?

When mom was staying with me, she asked me one day to bring over her toys.  Her things always made her happy.  And now they make me happy too.
Miss you mom!
Going to eat a bite of lunch then head over to sort more stuff.
Hope everyone's summer is going well.  It is a hot summer here as usual, temps in the 100's this week....Summertime in Texas.
Until next time~


  1. I just happened upon your blog - this is my first visit.

    What a beautiful post!

    I know the 'sorting' process you speak of, as I recently lost my mom, and my dad not that long ago. Its a tough, somewhat bittersweet process. You are fortunate tho, to have such precious keepsakes. That doll quilt is especially dear. Unfortunately the quilts my mom made were all gone by the time she married.

    Thank you so much for sharing. Now on to explore more of your blog...

  2. I've been to La Grange several times, but did not know that the museum was there! The next time I'm through there I will definitely stop!

    I LOVED every one of the stories about the quilts and your mother's treasures! Thank you so much for sharing! Brought joy to my heart!


  3. I am always amazed at how Texans blithely say, "it's in the 100s." I am suffocating when the thermometer heads over 90. Lucky you to have some family quilts - especially that doll quilt.

  4. What a wonderful tribute to your mother, grandmother & great aunts! Interesting that I always remembered my great-grandmother wearing those mostly black dresses during the heat of the Louisiana summers as well. I asked my dad just this past weekend why Ma Mere Clara (his grandmother who passed away in 1972 @ 86) always wore dark dresses (NEVER anything bright or cheerful) & he said it was because she was always in mourning. During her lifetime there were prescribed periods of mourning for parents, siblings, etc. & one wore black during the first half of the time of mourning and then colors of "half-mourning" thereafter: gray, dk blue, brown, etc. She did always wear an apron made of bright feedsacks though. :)
    A few of us from the Beaumont guild will be going to a retreat in LaGrange in August. You're welcome to come join us for a few days of relaxation & stitiching!
    Mona R.

  5. How fortunate you are to have your mother's keepsakes. You appreciate that they are heirloom treasures and not just "old stuff". I love the old china dolls and the little doll quilt.

  6. What a wonderful, wonderful post!!! How lovely to have these precious treasures, and the memories that go with them!! The fact they were used by you and the family!!!! They really are beautiful quilts, lovingly quilted, thankyou for sharing them!!! Your Mum and great aunts and other family needle-women would be amazed that these private creations have been shared with the world, they could never have imaged such a thing!!! The dolls are just lovely as well, all in such beautiful condition!!!! I hope these precious items remain in the family......

  7. I'm sure it's a big job to go through all of your mom's things - bittersweet for sure. Love the treasures that you have shared here - so nice to have some family quilts. And the dolls and boxes are wonderful! Stay cool!

  8. You are truly blessed with a priceless legacy. I hope you will find comfort in sleeping under some of your treasures.
    Bertha Mallard

  9. I love your family treasures. They are wonderful memories for you.

  10. Lovely post, Betsy! Thank you for sharing your family treasures and memories with us!