Grit Blogs > Country at Heart

Grandma's Handmade Quilts

Grandmothers are usually pretty busy women, and mine was no exception. She'd work from sun up to sun down outside in her garden or yard. After she finished those chores (even on those long summer days), she'd sit near her basket of "rags," I called them. They were actually old clothes, colorful flower and meal sacks and any other kind of old fabric or cloth that she thought would look good in a quilt. And the funny thing about her quilting is that (unlike today), she used all kinds of fabric together (wool, silk, cotton, rayon, nylon, polyester) and whatever else came down the pipe. Today, I quilt with new, store bought fabric - usually 100% cotton - which is the best and the most resilient. I doubt that my Grandmother ever saw a piece of new fabric except in a fabric store display window where she could not afford to shop.

Actually, though, I think Grandma's quilting style produced prettier quilts than are sewn today. Or, perhaps I'm biased because it was my Grandma. But when I left home, I took with me a beautiful quilt that she'd made. It was so bright and colorful with lots of yellow in it. There was an obvious trail that ran throughout the quilt. She named that quilt, "the path through the wilderness."

My grandparents house had a huge living room - so large that she could put her quilting frame up in the front room and leave it there until she finished a quilt. I never joined her in her long, arduous sewing together of all those tiny, little pieces of fabric. I had no interest, not even the slightest bit, in quilting. She probably saw that impatient look on my face whenever she started quilting. And that's probably why she never asked me if I wanted to learn her time-consuming craft ... which I didn't.

I did envy her though, because quilting takes lots of patience - which I was always a little short of. However, as is true of most country women, my Grandmother spent her spare time making quilts to warm her precious grandchildren.

Today, professional quilters use long-arm quilting machines. My Grandmother's quilting frame was called a "horse." Each of its four corners resembled a horse, and that's how the frame got its name. This contraption had two long poles that fitted length-wise into the "arm" of each corner "horse." Somehow, she fitted her entire quilt onto the frame and as she stitched (through the three layers of the quilt) from one end to the other, she'd roll the quilt over until she came to the opposite end, then she'd be finished ... presto! Another handmade beauty!