Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Great Grandmothers' Quilts

My father's maternal grandmother gave my parents this quilt when they married. It is gorgeous! Velvets, wools, and other luscious fabrics. The backing is satin. I wish you could see the hand embroidery on this quilt. Very pretty. The crazy quilt is treasured for its beauty, but the story behind it is interesting too. My mom sewed her own clothing or would buy scraps of velvet when she was dating my dad. Mom worked at the five and dime and spent most of her salary on fabric and makeup! Great grandma saved these scraps and made them this quilt when they married. It's in pristine condition and has never been used. I take it out of storage every now and then and admire it.

This same great grandmother, Ella Martin, was an accomplished seamstress. She also published a hymn. She lived during the depression in West Virginia. In 1933, she made a quilt for President Roosevelt. I have a wonderful magazine article about that quilt and her life. The quilt now belongs to the state of West Virginia and resides in a museum.

Grandma Martin was very special to me and I have many fond memories of spending time with her. I don't remember her sewing in my presence, but there were handmade items all around to admire. My parents and I visited her almost every weekend when she lived in St. Petersburg, Florida. She was making doll clothes by that time and my dad has one of her dolls. I have fond memories of her and was lucky to know her.

My dad's paternal grandmother gave this quilt to my parents when they married. I suspect it is quite old and was possibly an heirloom when they received it. It was the first quilt I ever saw or touched and has always been my favorite. I used it all the time as a teenager. My mother gave it to me for my home when I got married.

I love how it is made with scraps of clothing. The simplicity gives it charm. This great grandmother also lived in West Virginia during the depression. She died of lung cancer before I was born. Never smoked a day in her life. A very religious, thrifty woman and a wonderful cook.

It's interesting how the quilting bug came full circle. I think both of my great grandmother's would have been happy to see the tradition and hobby continued.


  1. That is so lovely. Now it all makes sense, you have had this talent all along, you just needed to stop and give it a try to find out. Now there is no stopping you! :-)

  2. What wonderful family heirlooms.

  3. How wonderful to have two quilts made by your grandmothers! The quilting bug skipped a generation in my family too. I don't remember either of my grandmothers but my Dad's mom made several quilts, lots of costumes, and doll clothes. I think I remember my Mom once putting a patch on some jeans....

  4. oh I love that clothing quilt - so simple and charming. looks soft and cuddly. you're lucky to have those quilts.

  5. What a cool heritage! I loved reading about your creative grandmothers.


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