Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Frugal Quilter

Yesterday was a mending day here in Hickery Holler. A day set aside to catch up on the mountain of ironing and mending that I had let collect over the last month or two. In the pile to be mended was the quilt below. A quilt made by O Wise One's grandmother Edna. The quilt dates back to the Depression and is like no other quilt I have ever seen. The entire quilt is sewn by hand.  

Each square is made up of 4 triangles. Each triangle was sewn front and back together and stuffed with none other than old stockings and socks. Then sewn up individually. The finished triangles were then sewn together (whip stitch) by hand.  Then the ramaning triangles were sewn around then edges to form prairie points.

Once all the triangles were pieced together it was hand quilted a 1/4 inch from each seam.

Giving you a patchwork front and back on the quilt. It absolutely amazes me the tiny whip stitches throughout this quilt. I have such admiration for the women of this era. Raising large families of childen on the farm during the Depression.

O Wise One's mother born during the Depression made everyday quilts  from polyester during the 60's. These quilts are not much to look at but are heavy and last forever. That polyester is indestructible. They wash well and are the quilts that go on picnics and events where we want to spread something on the ground for the babies.

But some of the quilts that are near and dear to my own heart are my grandmother's own scrap quilts. These quilts were from cut up clothes and scraps from her children and later grandchildren. Pieced simply usually in a nine patch variation and hand quilted in the same  Baptist Fan quilting pattern of all her quilts. She quilted from a roof frame that hung from the 12 foot ceilings of her old white farmhouse. The clothes were first stripped of their buttons and zippers. These items could be reused in other clothing. There were always jars of buttons sitting around waiting to be sewn on the odd shirt  or dress missing one.

The batting was sometimes old blankets or broken electric blankets with the wiring removed that could be patched and reused as batting. Sometimes it was the traditional cotton batting.  

Other times it was quilts like this one above where the top fabric had wore out but the batting was still intact. She would simply make another top and new backing and reuse the worn out quilt as batting.

Occasionally there were quilts made for special occasions ( marriages, new babies) that were made with special designs and new purchased fabric. But as you can see in the one above still with that Baptist fan quilting design. Her guide for this pattern a piece of strings with knots every inch and a piece of chalk. All of these quilts made frugally to keep their families warm yet surviving decades after their deaths. Many still in use. A testimony to their strength, imagination and creativity even in times of great turmoil and financial hardship. A lesson to many of today's quilters of how to make a quilt with very little expense.

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


  1. My wife has a mending basket. I haven't seen my blue pinstripe church pants in two years :) You look so organized. great pictures

  2. I've got a few of those items in my mending basket too! Not sure when i will get around to them but maybe you have inspired me with this post!

    I have a polyester quilt that a hair client gave me about 15 years ago and it is trainwreck proof!! It weighs about 30 lbs and is so warm! Ugly but LOVELY!!!!! I use it all the time!

  3. We were raised much in the same way.

    My mother could take the tiniest stiches.

  4. What great memories you have. :)

  5. I've been enjoying your blog for awhile, but when I saw the tied polyester quilt, I had to comment. My grandmother made each of her 14 grandchildren one just like that when we started high school (in the 70's and 80's). They were our "doubleknit" Ballgame Quilts and they traveled many miles on school busses and kept us warm through many chilly high school football games. Thanks for making me smile today.

  6. Oh baby, this Ozark Farm Chick just hopped over from 'At the Farm' and am so glad I did. That beautiful quilt reminds me of the one my Great~grandma Moon pieced together after she was 100 and blind. I that not amazin???

    I so enjoyed pokin' 'round through your lovely blog. Oh don't worry. I put everything back just the way it was. I'm a little twisted like that...just the way I fly!!! Heeehehehe!!!!

    God bless ya and have a beautifully blessed day from the happy hills and hollers of the Missouri Ponderosa!!! :o)

  7. Oops!!! I forgot to mention...must be my menopausal brain...Giveaway over at my place! :o)

  8. Great memories and great quilts. I'm not a fancy quilter, but the ones I have made do keep us very warm during the winter. Love you blog and thank you for sharing with us.

  9. Such treasures you have there. Thank you for sharing them. ; )

  10. You have not post in a week, hope you are ok! Looking forward to hearing from you again.

  11. I remember seeing those ugly polyester (and every ugly piece of fabric in the world)quilts. People always loved them. I liked them when I was a girl because I would get to help finish them off with aunts and cousins which made them precious. I wish I had one today today even if I didn't know who made it because I know they were usually a group effort.


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