Grandmother’s Quilts

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During this time of the year — when we turn on the heat and put extra covers on the bed — my mind travels back to my childhood when we pulled out the quilts, fluffed them up, aired them out, and put them on the bed. Now that process may sound simple, but it didn’t start with pulling them out from wherever we stored them.

That quilting thing started in Grandma’s house, perhaps years before we ever saw a quilt. She always kept a cardboard box with scraps from her old, worn-out aprons (if they weren’t soiled or torn to shreds), old clothes (dresses, shirts, skirts, blouses, denim blue jeans), flour and meal sacks, old sheets, strips of leftover fabric, and old handkerchiefs. Some of those items may be exaggerated, but quilts were indeed made from any salvageable fabric that could be sewn together.

Some of that stuff I definitely would have sent to the incinerator or tossed in the fireplace, but luckily Grandmother saw something in those rags that I didn’t. Women who quilt today (including me) use mostly new, store-bought fabric; Grandmother used whatever she could get her hands on. I remember her seemingly forever picking up little-bitty pieces of fabric and meticulously sewing them onto one another. Most quilters use an electric sewing machine; my grandmother had an
old-fashioned pedal machine. However, I don’t recall her using it to
stitch her quilts. She quilted an even more old-fashioned way — by hand. By the time she finished stitching everything, it came out as a beautiful, practical, much-needed comforter — another one of her masterpieces.

My mother never made quilts, so the ones we received came from Grandmother. I’m not sure what kind of batting (padding) went inside, but, boy, were those quilts heavy! Unless it was an extremely cold night, we only needed one … two if you wanted to be sure you wouldn’t feel any draft whatsoever. Those handmade quilts were so thick and heavy that it just about took all three of us girls to raise them up so we could get out of the bed in the morning!

Photo by Fotolia/chairboy