Wednesday, April 01, 2009

a history in small squares

today the mailman brought me something wonderful...

it's a quilt top that my great grandmother anna hall barnhart made in the early 40s, or possibly even earlier. my mom remembers her grandmother bedridden at her daughter's house in sergeant bluff, iowa. mom remembers helping her sew quilt tops, tho' not necessarily this one in particular. mom also has a number of yoyo quilts that she made (and which i'm hoping to acquire at least one of, i'll admit).

this is a marvelous piece and although i haven't measured it yet it will easily fit our queen-sized bed when i finish it. i spent a long time today, just looking at it and imagining how to finish it into a quilt that we use and love and enjoy. it's completely hand sewn. i found myself in reverie, imagining the line of seamstresses i come from and the hands and sure stitches that created the beauty before me.

i imagine all of the stories that are woven into it, as it's surely made from scraps of clothes people had worn and cast aside. there are many different fabrics of different types and bright cheerful colors.

i spent some time just looking at it today and taking macro photos. there are many different fabrics used in it and i imagine that each of them has a story to tell. i can imagine stories for each of them and hope this will be a source of inspiration that takes me on a storytelling journey.

for something that's likely at least 70 years old, it's amazing that it only has a few holes in it from hungry mice or moths over the years.

otherwise, the fabrics are in wonderful shape. i think that i'll use some fabrics from dresses sabin wore as a baby and a toddler to repair it, so that we weave our own history into it. because that's what quilts are, aren't they? they're the history of a family in fiber form.

i wonder if great grandma annie ever imagined her quilt would find its way to denmark?

thank you, mom for sending this to me. i will treat it well and treasure it.

and if anyone can tell me how these might traditionally have been quilted, i'd love to know, as i'd like to do right by it when i quilt it.


Char said...

such a treasure - and beautiful. to fill in with your love and stories is perfection.

I remember my grandmother sitting for hours at a frame suspended from the bedroom ceiling hand quilting these intricate patterns. I have no idea where those quilts are now and though I didn't get along with her, I would love to have just one.

Pia K said...

It's lovely, and I say like Char, what a treasure. I have something similar from my grandmother, in good condition too, but I have to admit, hrm, that I'm not exactly sure at the moment where I put them... Somewhere safe I'm sure though!

Brenda Pruitt said...

You would probably either quilt about a quarter of an inch inside the seams. Or you could stitch x's in the middle, one x per square. I've done both. I probably like them better done the first way. I've made many quilts, most in my thirties. Now in my early fifties, I have too much arthritis from surgeries post car accident. I cherish mine. I will be the first to hand them down to my grown daughters, as I didn't have family. Good luck. And let me know if you need some online help. I've taught others to quilt before. It is a soothing art form. You might also attend quilting bees. I did some of that also.

Delwyn said...

The Hawaiians are wonderful quilt makers. I am sure there are many web sites devoted to quilting.
I have one I made for my first baby's bassinet, hand sewn octagons, that I still use as a little comforter to cuddle in winter.

Word verification today for me is


it sounds like a word that belongs here..

heidikins said...

Tears, there are definitely tears here.


? said...

Love this and I admire your love for quilting. Its so inspiring.

Barb said...

What a lovely heirloom to have been gifted. And I love your idea of quilting in some of your daughters clothing.