Friday, January 20, 2012

More Than Bedcovers

For as long as I can recall, I have always slept under quilts. Snuggling under a homemade quilt is one of the coziest feelings in the world.

One of my favorite memories is of the times that I spent the night at my Grandma and Grandpa's house in the wintertime. My bedroom was upstairs and it was always chilly in the dead of winter, even when the wood stove downstairs was going full blast. Grandma would pile so many quilts on me that I would sink into the feather bed and I could barely move! I had two favorite quilts when I was growing up--one was a Lone Star quilt and the other one had a couple of squares in it that were made of flannel.

My favorite childhood quilt
Much of this quilt is made from printed feed sacks.  
In 1983, I decided that I wanted Grandma to teach me to make a quilt  . . . and it had to be a Lone Star . . . and it had to be flannel.  If you have ever made quilts, you know that piecing together a Lone Star Quilt is not always the best quilt for a beginner. Flannel is also not as easy to work with as thinner cotton fabrics. I was stubborn back then too. Grandma made up a template and told me that we needed to make a mock-up out of cheap fabric first to make sure that she had made the template correctly. The template is just a simple diamond shape for this quilt, but the length of the sides and the distance across the middle has to be just so, or the center of the star will start to pucker up as you work farther out to the points. Our first sample failed, so it was back to the drawing board. Success! The second template worked!

Daddy gave me the money so that I could go to the local fabric store (by local, I mean 20 miles away) to buy the fabric.When I showed Grandma the fabric that I bought, she was very surprised by my color and fabric choices.   She said that she had never heard of someone using flannel to make a quilt. Keep in mind that my Grandma had never went out and specifically bought a big piece of fabric to take home and cut into tiny pieces only to turn around and sew them back together again to make a quilt. (Hmmm . . . when put that way, it does seem ridiculous!) She always had big bags in the walk-in closets full of fabric scraps, remnants from making all of my, my mom's and her own clothing. It was so much fun to go digging through those scrap bags! Grandma also used feed sacks to make her quilts. Animal feed used to come in printed cloth sacks, so when Grandpa was going to the store, she would show him the feed sacks that she had saved and tell him to try to get the same pattern.  I can just imagine Grandpa requesting chicken feed in the "red sack with the tiny blue flowers and little white squiggles!" What a great way for the feed companies to keep their customers loyal!  The red printed sections in the above quilt were made from printed feed sacks.

Grandma helped me get the center of the star started and then I hand-pieced the rest of the star. When it was time to cut the pieces of fabric to set around the star, Grandma did that part because there was no way that I had enough quilting experience to figure that out! Keep in mind that we were not following any store bought pattern for this quilt. We were doing as women had done for many, many years. We were figuring it out as we went along.

Since Grandma had given her large quilting frame away years before, we had to borrow a set of quilting frames from our neighbor, Ruby.  Grandma had started doing most of her quilting using a large hoop since the big frames would take up the better part of a room. Naturally, I wanted to do it the traditional way on a large frame! Once we got the quilt top, batting, and backing in the frame, it was finally time to quilt. (Quilting is sewing the three layers together using thousands of tiny, hand-sewn stitches.) Grandma, her sister Delpha and I quilted the whole thing by hand.

This is a hanging quilt frame

After we got the quilt finished, I embroidered a rose with our initials and the date on the back so that I would always remember when I made the quilt. If you notice, just under the rose, I embroidered the name "Ellie".  She was my much loved kitty that died while we were making the quilt.

Here is how it turned out:

"Lone Star"--the first quilt that I made


  1. Beautiful quilt...and what a wonderful memory (except for the part about the kitty, of course) !


    1. Thanks Denise. Ellie was a wonderful kitty and she loved to snuggle so much. She was one of those cats who would never bite or scratch. She was so mild-mannered!

  2. What wonderful memories you have stitched into that special quilt! Even Ellie will never be forgotten.

  3. Very special memories made tangible...lovely quilts. My mother is an excellent seamstress and I was not into sewing at all (she even had to sew my blue elephant for home ec). Now I've got the bug and I'll be taking a sewing class very soon, she'll be proud. :)

    1. I think that it would be very interesting to learn how to sew. But I get too aggravated trying to sew garments.

  4. Wonderful post! I sleep under quilts too! And when I stop to think of all the love I'm sleeping under-I get teary eyed : )

    1. Tipper, I think that is my favorite thing about sleeping under old family quilts. I feel so close to my grandmothers who made them.


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