Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mammie's Rescued Quilt

This quilt identification patch tells part of the story. There is much more to the story of how I rescued my grandmother's partially finished quilt. While visiting my aunt and uncle in Orangeburg in 1997 they pulled out an ancient, water stained, dusty paper grocery bag filled with some sort of fabric. They identified the contents of the bag as a quilt my grandmother had started, but not completed. Because my grandmother was such an important part of my life, anything that once belonged to her held a strong attraction for me. At that time I had taken a quilting class, but was far from being a competent quilter. I took a look at the dusty, old quilt and surprised them and myself by offering to attempt to salvage and complete it. My aunt and uncle were pleased with my offer and sent me home with my new project in hand.
I had no idea what a job I had bargained for. When I got home I carefully removed the quilt from the bag to discover that it was more damaged than I had realized. It had been left in a barn where water had gotten to it. It had been damp for so many years that there were mildew stains and, to be honest, it smelled horrible. Mammie had completed the quilt top and made a backing for the quilt from many small pieces of old muslin fabric. The batting, I soon discovered was one of the most interesting parts of the quilt. The batting had been homemade on the farm as it still contained pieces of cotton seed. There was such a strong, musty odor caused from water damage that I had no choice except to take the layers apart and remove the batting. Mammie had hand sewn the layers of the quilt sandwich together with some type of heavy red thread and a large needle. Tears rolled down my face as I clipped the stitching and pulled the layers apart. I cried because I was afraid I would never get the quilt back together as much as because I could imagine my grandmother's hands sewing it together all those years ago.

Having taken the quilt apart, I knew the next step was to wash it as gently as possible. Once it was clean and dry I started the time consuming task of repairing each block. That accomplished, I took the quilt to Hendersonville, NC to seek out a quilting authority. I called ahead to Georgia Bonesteel's Quilt Corner to be sure when she would be there. Georgia loved the quilt and advised me to have it machine quilted rather than attempting to hand quilt something so fragile. She also advised me to replace the old backing with new, but to save the old to use for binding the quilt. Machine quilting took two weeks and was well worth the wait. All I had left to do was bind it and deliver it, which I did the following week. My aunt and uncle were thrilled to have the quilt back and told me that one day it would be mine.

Last week that day came. My aunt and uncle moved into assisted living facility and gave Mammie's quilt to me. It is a treasure that I will cherish and pass on to generations to come. Here is the quilt stretched out on my living room floor in front of my great-grandmother's fainting couch. The fainting couch, we believe, could have been built by my great-grandfather who was a Confederate soldier and a furniture builder by trade, but I'll save that story for later.

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5 comments:

Jenny said...

So glad you blogged again! This is a great post and a great way to record the second chapter of the quilt's life.

Theresa said...

what a wonderful, wonderful story, and what a beautiful quilt. I'm so glad you shared it with us. Now I need you to start telling us stories of your family, complete with pictures. I think everyone will enjoy them!

Ray said...

Like the roses need the rain. Like the poet needs the pain. We can't live without sharing.thanks for your awesome blog.Best regards!

Jennifer said...

Nice post.Thank you for sharing with us.
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