One of my favorite pictures of my newborn baby is a photo of him at seven days old on a family heirloom quilt that my aunt sent me as a gift when I told her we were expecting a baby.
My aunt and I both love to research family history and we have a great time looking at documents when we get together--but more recently we've started talking about history through the lens of our heirlooms. I actually put together a report about our family using different quilts and pairing the photos with names and dates-branches of the family, etc. I'm kind of a history and fabric art nerd in that way.
It was during that project that I told my aunt that the quilt above is my favorite of her family heirloom quilts. I was thrilled when she gave it to me--not only because it's beautiful but because it was made by my family.
We think, but aren't exactly sure, that it was the work of my great-great-grandmother Lutheria Jane. Lutheria was born in the 1850s and died in the 1920s. Based on the popular grandmother's flower garden pattern that's been popular for years, the timeline works well for the quilt being from her lifetime. As to the other aspects, materials, etc., we're not sure. I want to know how old she was when she quilted this. She seemed pretty skilled, so perhaps after decades of experience? I would love to ask her--where are these fabrics from? Did she purchase them for quilting? She was employed at the Illinois School for the Deaf as a house mother--perhaps she had time in the evenings when she worked on this?
Ihave fun wondering even though I doubt I could ever piece together the history. What do you think?
A better photo of the quilt. We can tell with certainty that it was hand-quilted and hand pieced. Those tiny outline squares would get eaten by a machine--I just can't imagine how painstakingly this was put together. I absolutely adore it, but I keep it in a cedar chest most of the year because I fear Kitten and her claws--and her tendency to throw up on cherished blankets.
Kitten is now banished from 2/3rds of our upstairs, so perhaps I can break it out for a short spell.
I remember how happy I was to bring out the quilt with my newborn little boy and put him on it for a round of pictures. He didn't cooperate with the photo shoot, but I think that made it even more special. Here's a descendant of the quilter and he's sitting on a quilt she made--cooing and upset--exactly 100 years after her grandson (my grandfather) was born.
I think that's why we attend so closely to these blankets and why I'm a convert to hand-quilting. We want these things we spend so much time on to last--and endure.
I've been trying some new quilting stencils. Look for pics soon!