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"Piece" of family history

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nitchals posted on Sat, Apr 30 2011 5:44 PM

I am going to be an Auntie!  My sister and I have been talking about quilt options for the baby and she pulled out the baby quilt our mother made for her when she was born.  It is rather tattered but still a very important piece of her life (we joke that she may be buried with it).  I hadn't gazed upon it for years, and now that I have been quilting for a while I thought it would be interesting to see the techniques used.  Immediately I noticed that it was part mom and part something else... couldn't put my finger on it but the grandmothers garden blocks didn't match the baby quilt fabric backround.  So I asked mom about it on Easter and found out that my Great-Grandmother had pieced the "Grandmother's Garden" and "Star" fabric (in the 1930's or early 40's).  After Great Grandma passed, my mom was given the blocks.  Then my mother had appliqued them onto the baby fabric for my sister.  And then mom dropped the bomb... there were several more of these pieced blocks in storage somewhere.  My jaw dropped. 

So, mom found the blocks and gave them to me.  I feel the urge to clean them (they are musty and a little stained).  I'd love to put some of them in quilt in an appliqued fashion for my new neice or nephew.  There are several blocks - enough to make the baby a quilt and plenty more.  What is the "right" thing to do here? 

 

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Hi Nitchals,

Welcome!  OMG, I love the Grandmother's garden block and the Grandmother's Stars.  You can get the gentle quilt soaps at your local quilt shop. They also have the products that keep them from fading.  If the fabric and stitching is still strong, buy a qualtiy batting like Quilter's Dream and high quality fabrics for the backing and the setting of the blocks.  Look on the package that the batting comes in and there is a "maximum stitching width listed". You really want to quilt in a small pattern so that it will reinforce the older fabrics to the new ones.  They have a lot of reproduction prints from the '30s and '40s, you should be be able to match your blocks.

I recently had the honor to complete and quilt a Grandmother's Garden quilt that was started in 1937. It's history was similar to yours. It was a thrill to be working on something that was so important to my client!

Judylee

 

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UPDATE: Exciting News - my nephew was born on December 25, 2012.  It was such a miracle to have him born after losing his brother way to early.  I used the blocks from my great-grandmother into a quilt for my new nephew.  Quite the generational quilt as my Great Grandmother made the blocks, my Grandmother inspired me to create the pinwheel blocks (she would buy us grandkids pinwheels for a fun day playing in her backyard).  My mother stored the blocks for many years and had used some to make my sister's baby quilt.  My sister loved on her special quilt made by my mom and vow's to be buried with it.  And now little Landon gets to start his story with his piece of this family history.  Such a labor of love.

Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement on this journey.

Here is the quilt for my nephew.  The original blocks are in the center with reproduction prints used in the pinwheel border.  I hand embroidered his name and birth date and then heavily quilted (free motion on my domestic machine) to give it lots of texture.

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nitchals replied on Fri, May 13 2011 12:06 AM

It is pretty exciting (both the new role of auntie and the quilt).  To me - regardless of the fabrics used the fact that soon 5 generations of my family will be touching this fabric, they are already priceless.  :)

There are 13 Star blocks which measure approx 10.5 inches point to point.  And 30 Flower Garden blocks which measure (at the widest points) approx 13 inches.  There are also cutouts for more blocks which great-grandma cut and pinned together but didn't finish.  My mom still has those so I am uncertain as to the number.

Been studying up on applique techniques trying to figure out the mechanics.  I have to create some practice blocks - using the originals as a template. 

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I just read your post that was mentioned in the latest newsletter.  I also have a stack of pieced Grandmother's flower garden  blocks that my mom had made before passing away suddenly.  I have taken them out many times but do not know how to use them.  Any ideas would be appreciated.  I like your idea of using them in a baby quilt. 

Joyce

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i just found 22 dresden plates at a yard sale (they appear to be hand sewn). How do i clean them safely? and then what do i do to turn them into a quilt someone wanted to make? i have never made a dresden plate before. HELP!

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Truly amazing, I know there are ways to clean them but I am not the person that has the correct advise.  You could make a small memory quilt with one or two, add the history in a label on front and frame it for an everlasting gift. Good lluck with your choices.  Lyn

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Marie replied on Sat, Jul 9 2011 1:51 PM

What treasures Nitchals!  Please let us know what you decide to do with them.

Millbury, MA

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I agree with Quilt Daddy . You need to find out if these are feed sack material  and go from there. You may have a real Jem in your midst. So beautiful !!! My favorite fabric is 1930,s reproductions. Cant wait to see what you decide. Show the pics when your done. Susan

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I do have a follow up, but the story didn't end the way any of us expected or hoped.  My sister broke her water early (in her 16th week of pregnancy), she continued the pregnancy and we prayed for a miracle that wouldn't come.  On Memorial Day, she went into labor (two weeks after her water broke) and delivered my nephew, a precious little angel whose life was much too short.  It was beyond hard, the grief of it still takes my breath away.  To help deal with the grief, the hospital had started a keepsake box where treasures from the experience could be kept.  I needed to keep my hands busy, so I kept my promise and made my nephew a quilt.  My sister was thankful for the gift and of course recognized the block right away.  She explained the history of the star to her husband.  The other blocks are all clean, and in a safe place, waiting for the day when they too will be made into a quilt to commemorate  a historical event in my family's life.

The star is machine appliqued onto the fabric.  I hand embroidered his name and b/d date.  Then I free-motion quilted the meandering and followed a template for the border.  It finished at about 20 X16 inches. 

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Ginny replied on Sat, Jul 9 2011 5:37 PM

Nitchals,  I really don't know how to begin this.  The quilt that you made is breath-taking.  What a wonderful memory the parents will have.  It certainly doesn't replace their son, but is a most precious memory and tangible aknowledgement that their son was here and was loved.  I am sorry for their loss and yours. 

There is simply nothing more that I can add except that I feel your sorrow.     Ginny

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Marie replied on Sat, Jul 9 2011 6:20 PM

Nitchels, I am so sorry it had to turn out this way, that quilt does indeed acknowledge Carson's birth and that he was very loved by his auntie.  My heart aches for you and your family and pray God will help heal your hearts. 

Millbury, MA

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gini replied on Sat, Jul 9 2011 6:39 PM

nitchals,  it is so heartbreaking  to lose a baby.   what a beautiful memorial you have made for him  

gini in north idaho

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nitchals,  so heartbreaking to hear that your nephews life was too short.  Your quilt is beautiful and his parent's will have a wonderful keepsake of his short life.

Margaret

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Nitchals

I am so sorry for your family's loss! Carson's quilt is beautiful, you did an amazing job!

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Laura replied on Sun, Jul 10 2011 1:34 AM

What a beautiful memorial for Carson! My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.

Asking a quilter to mend something is like asking Picasso to paint your garage.

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Nana replied on Mon, Jul 11 2011 9:15 AM

Nitchals

So very sorry for your family's loss.  The memorial quilt is gorgeous and I know it will be cherished.

Vinton, Virginia

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You are so fortunate to have those quilt pieces to pass on to you niece or nephew. I get the special quilt soap from the quilt shop and I have seen some of those fabrics or very close patterns on some of the ebay stores who sell reproduction fabrics. You might want to reinforce some of the seams by hand stitching so there would be less tension since there would be no bobbin thread. It wouldn't be as strong as machine stitching, but it might keep the seams together so they don't come loose after the quilt has been used for a while. I can picture the stars with little pinwheels in the corner of the sashes or borders.  If you have enough stars, you could applique them in a circle on the quilt and with today's technology add a picture of the baby in the center. Just a couple thoughts which came to mind. Congradulations and keep us posted on what you decide to do. Post pictures so we can follow along. Bettie

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