I love beautiful quilts. Maybe it’s because my mother loved to quilt. It seemed as though she always had a quilt in some stage of creation. Everyone in the family, which included me and three sisters, our six children, and five grandchildren own at least one quilt Mama made. And anyone in the community who had a baby during the time she quilted was given a baby quilt lovingly created.
My sisters and I have many quilts that were made by our mother, grandmothers, great grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers. We don’t know the origins of all of them, but each one is a treasure.
We grew up in a large old farmhouse with my parents and paternal grandparents. My mother and grandmother were both avid quilters, as were many members of the rural community in which we lived. Individuals would create a quilt top, sewing it either by hand or sewing machine, and then host a quilting. A bottom layer of fabric, usually unbleached muslin was topped with cotton batting on which the quilt top was laid. All three layers were stretched taut in a quilting frame supported by four corner quilt stands just high enough to pull up a chair underneath the edge.
Neighborhood quilters worked side by side, quilting the area in front of them in a pattern decided upon by the host. As the quilting progressed, the finished area was rolled under so quilters could continue until the entire quilt was finished.
After removing the quilt from the frames, the quilt owner finished the edges herself. She usually folded the backing over the front edge of the quilt, turning under the raw edges and hand hemming it to complete the quilting process.
Hand quilting is hard. I have quilted a few quilts with my mother, but my work was never as good as hers. The stitches of a good quilter are short and even. While you stitch with one hand, you keep the other hand underneath the quilt so you can feel the needle pierce all layers of the quilt. Needless to say, pricked fingers were the norm, at least when I tried to quilt.
I have a set of quilting frames that were my mother’s, but I seriously doubt they will ever be used by me. I intend to simply appreciate the beautiful quilts I own and the hands that made them.
I love to cut up the most antique quilts I have and create items to give to family members. I want them to have a connection to their heritage and also learn to appreciate things created by previous generations.
While clearing out my mother-in-law’s house to sell following her death, we found several antique quilts. Since I never saw my mother-in-law or her mother quilt, I knew these quilts were very old, but I do not know who made them. So, the quilts must have been made by my husband’s great grandmothers or great-great grandmothers.
One of the quilts found was in colors of red, green, and white. Acknowledging its Christmas color combination, I made several things to be used as Christmas decorations and gifts for family members. Here is a list of possible projects to make and then the following video shows some of the items I actually made from this one quilt.
A few suggested quilt projects include:
- Mantel garland of Christmas-related items, such as snowman, Christmas tree, stocking, mittens and triangular banners
- Pillows, in the shape of a heart, bell, and larger representations of the items in the previously mentioned mantel garland
- Wall hangings of portions of the quilt in an antique picture frame or old window frame
- Wall hangings of quilt pieces stretched in old embroidery frames
- Upholster the top of a stool or lid of a storage box with quilt pieces
In my recent YouTube video, I showed several projects that I made with this old quilt. I also included a download link for patterns to make the Christmas garland for my mantel. Check it out: Antique Quilt Projects –
To view items I made from this antique quilt, click on the first picture in the gallery below. Then click on the arrows on either side of the pictures to navigate from one picture to another.
Anything you make is a way to save and appreciate the beauty of antique quilts and the hard work that lovingly created them. If you are lucky enough to have antique quilts and know their origin, what a wonderful treasure to pass on to future generations. And creating small projects with them is a great way to share a piece of your quilt heritage with family members.
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