Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Repairing Family Heirlooms

Quilting has been an art practiced in my family for generations. Both of my grandmothers quilted and I am pleased to say that I have precious quilts made by each of them. A few months ago, I visited with my parents in Canada, and my mom and I spent hours quilting together. Let me share with you a project my mother and I worked on.

It began when my mom asked me if I would like one of my grandmother Koehler’s quilts. “It will need a little repair-work,”, she said. I’m a sentimental fool, so I didn’t care how much work it would need, I wanted to have another thing made by my grandma. She was the one who taught me to quilt in the 90’s. I still remember sitting with her in her apartment in Delray Beach, Florida, quilting while she told me her entire life history. I wish I had the sense to have had a tape recorder, but alas, I did not.

The quilt my mother was talking about appears here. My grandmother made it in the 1950’s, and constructed it using fabrics from her, my aunt, and my mother’s dresses. How perfect is that!

Upon examining the quilt, we found there were two blocks that had fabric pieces that were falling apart. So, we took a seam ripper and picked out two complete blocks.

Next, we rummaged through mom’s fabric stash and found a couple of fabrics that would work. Then… we went downtown to the local fabric store in Mitchell, Ontario (Canada), Using the quilt as our guide, we found two other fabrics that blended well the existing prints of the quilt.

Back home, I measured and cut the pieces for the new blocks. Then, I stitched the quilt blocks on the sewing machine and pressed them.

Next, I laid the blocks in place in the “void” areas created earlier.

I pinned the blocks in place and proceeded to hand stitch them to the base quilt.

As I sat there and stitched, I could not help but marvel at the fact that I was stitching through the same holes my grandmother created over half a century ago, - before I was born. My mother assisted me with the stitching, and with that act, we now had three generations stitching on the same heirloom piece.

You can see the finished quilt below. It now has a place in my home.




Mary Emma Allen said...

How lovely to have a family heirloom you've helped restore. I have the quilt I helped my grandmother make for my bed more than 50 years ago. I must do a little repair work on it, too.

Yes, so many of us now wish we'd had a tape recorder for those stories parents and other relatives told us! I'm trying to recall and jot down what I remember.

SusanLazear said...

Yes... it is wonderful to have family history, and to actually have garments or textiles that you can carry with you to the next generation.