We had a warm sunny day this week, so I pulled out a tub of quilts I inherited from Lois, my mother-in-law. They had been stored in a cedar chest, made as a high school project by her future husband back in about 1925.

I spread a white tablecloth on the driveway and unfolded the first quilt. The double wedding band quilt is a beautiful display of color, stitching, and handwork. The intricate machine stitching alone had to take days to do. The quilt is a real work of art, in perfect shape, probably rarely used except as a display on the bed for when company came. It could have been a wedding present.

The second quilt I spread out was almost past the “thread bare” stage, faded from years of use and washings. Scraps of fabric, with no color scheme, just made from what was available. I’m sure it dates back to at least my mother-in-law’s days of growing up in the 1920s- 1930s. Researching the pattern, I’d say it is a Double Quartet quilt block pattern featured in Capper’s Weeklyin 1927.

They are both machine stitched, with no signature or date on either quilt.

Lois was a very practical, organized woman, and never seemed attached to mementos from the past. She only kept and used what she needed. So now looking at this old worn out quilt, I wonder who made it, and why did she keep it.

I’m guessing the first quilt was kept because it was a gift, and a treasure due to the workmanship. The second quilt though, even plain and worn out, must have had very special memories attached to it.

My writer’s imagination flashes through many scenarios. Was it on Lois’ bed when growing up or on her sister Helen’s bed who died when the girl was a teenager? Made by a grandmother and used by the grandfather that lived with her family. Or, was it just an old quilt used as a picnic blanket in their first car?

I’ll never know the history of these quilts since the previous owner is now gone. I’m just guessing they were kept for some special reason besides for display and warmth.

Maybe I’ll honor these quilts with new “memories” in one of my future books like I did in the Trail of Thread series …

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Comment by Linda Hubalek on January 13, 2012 at 11:39am

Ah! So true...just give them a new home to be admired and used again...that's probably what the quilter would want too.

Comment by Virginia "Ginnie" Leiner on January 13, 2012 at 11:09am

Their loss is most definitely  my gain!

Comment by Linda Hubalek on January 13, 2012 at 10:51am

Yes, it's sad to see a quilt for sale somewhere at an auction or thrift shop. But at least they can get admired again ...by someone special like you!

Comment by Virginia "Ginnie" Leiner on January 13, 2012 at 9:54am

Your story hit a familiar note with me.  I am an avid quilter and collector and I often find quilts in thrift shops.  Not knowing there stories (and how they got to a thrift shop instead of treasured in the quilter's family) intrigues me.  I am more than happy to give them a new home with me where they will be appreciated!  Every quilt tells a story; some of them we will never hear.

Comment by Linda Hubalek on January 12, 2012 at 11:28pm

Thanks for the note! Which book of mine are you reading now?

Comment by Karen Lightman on January 12, 2012 at 5:33pm

Cool find...I can't wait to read the story of this one! I am reading one of your books now. It's really good...like a pioneer survival guide.  So many cool, old ideas about how things were preserved and and the way of life back then.  All of it is good to know for when the power goes for days or something!

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