Last weekend I decided to tackle my closet and get rid of old clothing that no longer fit or would never be worn again.
I actually enjoy this task. My closet gets a make-over, and I donate things that are still in good shape. Sometimes I find things that I have forgotten. This time, tucked away in a corner of my closet were two old quilts.
Made by my great-grandmother and great-aunt, they were given to my mother. She, in turn, gave them to me over 30 years ago. Back in my 20s, when I received these beautiful quilts, I was not sentimental, nor was I into vintage. I did not recognize the beauty and the history these quilts represented.
Thankfully, I kept these priceless gems. They are now a reminder of my family history and remind me how we are all connected.
I now have a new found love of quilts. They provide clues to the past and are timeless treasures of art. They are the product of hard work and love and are never meant to be forgotten. Quilts provide warmth, beauty and value and are an important part of American folk art.
My quilts were made during the 1930s. Those were lean years in America. They were defined by the Great Depression, debt, drought, dust storms, and unemployment. People did not have the money to buy blankets, so women relied on their own skills and resources. They saved bits and pieces of material from clothing and other blankets. Making do was a common practice for frugal quilters during those difficult years.
They knew how to recycle fabric scraps that might otherwise go to waste. I am struck by my great grandmother’s self-sufficiency. She used her artistic expression and created her own legacy with her quilts. They help us remember the strength of women’s history with pride and passion. Regardless of the design a woman chose, all quilts told a story.
Looking at a quilt is like reading a history book. Its needlework contains words of wisdom. They reveal imagination, joy, sorrow, life, death, friendship and love. If only we could read between the tiny stitches, what stories would they tell? I wonder if my great-grandmother and great-aunt knew their quilts would be around long after they were gone?
I can’t wait to pass these quilts on to my daughter, who will hopefully do the same with her daughter or son. In those days, making quilts was one core activity of a woman’s life. It gave expression to her passions, attitudes, beliefs and spirit. The texture of our life is also like a crazy quilt.
Quilt patterns were chosen to reflect a woman’s personal style. The painstaking hand stiches were performed with patience and commitment. The scraps of fabric are like the fragments of our lives. They are both pieced together with pure intention and reflect our values and personality. The end result in both cases is a thing of beauty.
Are you a quilter? What fascinates you most about this craft? Do you have a passion or hobby that you can pass down to your children and grandchildren? Please join the conversation.