I know I’ve talked on here before of how my grandmother made quilts. Big comfy quilts that have lasted through all kinds of treatment. She also made all of us what we called lap quilts, which we took with us in cars in case we all got stranded in a snow storm. This, of course, was before cell phones, and AAA. My mom asked me to look at this one to see if anything could be done with it.
Well, this poor thing had definitely seen better days. Grandma’s quilts have always been utility quilts, meant to clearly receive everyday use. Lots of washings, and plenty of sun damage had turned the fabric brittle. Some squares had gaping holes where entire chunks of fabric were missing, and a lot of the fabric would actually rip, just by handling. I knew I had a job ahead of me, but I wanted to use as much of Grandma’s squares that I could while trying to keep a true representation of what it originally was. This is what I started with.
I started by doing a LOT of seam ripping and taking out the squares that didn’t seem viable at all. Most of the squares that I removed had five colored squares, and four white squares in the 9 patches. I did use five squares of the red fabric to incorporate into a new block.
And this is what I was left with. I thought I would be able to use the three brown squares, but as I was ripping the seams for those, the fabric started tearing. I decided to not use those. That did leave me with six viable 9 patch blocks that I did use.
That meant that I had to make 15 blocks to replace the old ones. Because I used the red fabric from the old squares, I measured those to find the size, and started cutting 4″ squares out of scraps that I have. The pink floral fabric were from my curtains in my room when I was growing up, and the brown floral fabric was from a quilt made by Grandma when I was a young girl.
I laid the blocks out a couple of different ways until I settled on a color combination I felt was pleasing to the eye. Finally I was able to start piecing the quilt top together. Also, I decided to put the blocks that I was able to save of Grandma’s on each end of the quilt, so Mom would always know who did what.
Now… we get to the part that we all lovingly call “the extender strip” in my family. I thought about this the whole time I was working on this quilt, and I still don’t have an answer for why Grandma put these in her quilts. But a lot of our quilts from her definitely have these. I wish she was around so I could ask.
I have come up with a theory that since she was raised in the Depression, and was super thrifty, she probably made the quilt top around the size of the backing she already had. Or maybe she made the quilt top, then found a piece for the backing, and it was bigger, so she just filled the space in with additional fabric? I don’t know, but since I had resolved to try to match the original quilt as much as I could, I begrudgingly sewed it back along the side, right where it had been. I’m glad Mom isn’t allergic to cats, because Shadow definitely was my supervisor for most of this.
Finally I was able to start pinning the top to the backing. Previously the quilt had just been tied, but I wanted to quilt it at least a little bit. I did a simple stitch-in-the-ditch to reinforce the seams.
And here is a picture of the back. I have no idea where Grandma got her fabrics, but I’m sure that it was items that had been given to her, or that people wore. As you can tell, there were two different fabrics used for this, and there were some tears in the yellow part. I just went ahead and patched them using some fabric that I had in my scrap pile. The color is similar, which is what I was hoping for.
And one more picture of the finished quilt. I am glad I was able to save it from the state it was in, although I do wish I could have saved more of Grandma’s blocks than I did. Nothing on it is perfect, and it isn’t going to win Best in Show, but we can look at it and treasure the memories we have of Grandma. Now it can be used by Mom on a daily basis, and hopefully will have many years of life left in it!
Thanks for looking!
Linking up with:
Funky Junk Interiors