My parents found a sweet little house and have been making their way through boxes. Their stuff had been in storage for over six months, almost long enough to forget what was packed away. They got rid of a lot before they moved, and they’ve slowly been purging even more. Considering I still have a weekly dream about their old house, I have strong feelings about some of the things they try to get rid of! Luckily, my mom is more than happy to give me anything I want.
One of the things I claimed immediately was my gramma’s old sewing box.
I remember the box sitting next to her favorite chair. She taught me how to sew, and I remember watching her hand drop into the sewing box over and over to grab different things.
The inside held patterns, pins and needles, and all sorts of other assorted sewing goodies. I wish I knew what she’d planned on making with some of the materials inside. I should use those heart appliques on something for Annabel – I know my gramma would have liked that.
My mom also came across many of the quilts my grandmother made. On any given night you’d find her sitting in her rocking chair with whatever quilt she was working on spread out on the bed in front of her. Every single stitch on her quilts was sewn by her hand. Now that I am sewing more myself, I am so blown away by how time-consuming that was for her – but she loved it.
My gram was in a weekly quilting class with all of her buddies. One of their projects was to make a quilt square of themselves. There was a raffle to see who’d win all the finished squares, and my gramma won. This was what she quilted them all into:
I adore the square my gramma made of herself. The hand print is mine – she traced it and incorporated it into the quilt.
But hands down, my absolute favorite quilt is the one she made for me, the Grandmother’s Fan.
I asked her to sew me a bunch of things when I was growing up, but when I asked her when she was going to make a quilt for me, I had noooooo idea how much work it was. She worked on this quilt for years (between other projects), and it shows. Every single piece of every single fan is made with a different floral fabric. Just the time involved in finding all that fabric is mind-blowing!
The details are incredible – she even added my name.
She officially gave it to me at my first Christmas home from college, and it became my most prized possession. The quilt was on my bed in the apartment I shared with Jackie, and then on the guest bed in the condo I shared with Mike. When we needed to turn the guest room into Madeline’s nursery, I asked my mom to keep the quilt safe. I’m so happy to have it again.
The quilt is a little dingy from use (I need to figure out how to clean it), but it’s otherwise in perfect condition. I know my gram would get such a thrill to hear I plan on wrapping her great-grandchildren up in it. It will mean so much to me to have them touch something she touched.
I want to make beautiful heirlooms like this for my children, and if I am lucky, their children, too. I want to make my wonderful grandma proud.
Kate @ upsidebackwards says:
What a treasure!
I inherited my grandmother’s sewing box too, and some of the quilts she made. And just before I read this, I was working on a quilt for my cousin’s baby due later this year. It’s so lovely how quilts can tie family memories together.
That is a beautiful quilt, Heather. Your grandmother was a very talented lady. It is lovely to have such a precious reminder of her.
What a beautiful quilt and legacy that your grandmother left you. My grandmother made a fan quilt similar to that, which I have but don’t use as it is well-worn and I don’t want to damage it further.
I love your grandma’s beautiful sewing box, and the quilts are absolutely priceless!! I wish your mom and dad many, many wonderful years in their new place!
What a beautiful quilt
I consider myself crafty and I have sewn a thing or two. Since Frozen is out, maybe you can find a yard of cool fabric and make Annie a pillowcase. A simple sewing lesson and a prize! My friend Marilyn did this for me– and my kids cannot part with the strip quilts and cases she made from what she had lying around! My Grammma’s family were farmers. I learned lots of cooking as opposed to crafty…
That’s such a cute idea! And I wish I had those cooking skills…
Love the quilts!!! I can’t tell you how many quilts I have picked up over the years, be it an estate sale or garage sale. My first thought is who was the person who made this…what was she all about? I agree, treasures.
My Gran passed away just before Christmas and I pounced on the sewing box. My Mum and Aunt didnt really understand why I wanted it but when I was a child I spent many an hour playing with that box – emptying, arranging, sewing and generally messing – and there was no way it was going to the charity shop!
I LOVE the little quilting club quilt. Which one is your grandma? My daughter has a crib sized quilt that my mom made her when she was about 9 months old. (She is 8 now.) That thing is falling apart like crazy but she loves it. A couple years ago, my mom recreated it for her with more grown up, vibrant colors. That quilt remains in nearly perfect condition. It hasn’t gotten the chance to get broken in and soft and cozy like the other one, so she doesn’t like it as much.
Me too – I would love to know which one of the ladies is your Grandma.
What a lovely legacy.
She’s the one on the far right with white hair and glasses! I added a close-up picture of her square.
The white-haired, glasses-wearing granny on the far right is her!
What works of art! My grandmother’s rule always was USE THE QUILT! And so, all of us do. She had eleven children and a gazillion grandchildren, and I think we all have her quilts on our beds. This post made me smile because my feisty grandma was a competitive quilter…..quick to click her tongue at sloppy stitches, or worse yet, machine quilting. Your grandma’s work? My grandma would have totally approved.
Those are absolutely beautiful. Love them. I didn’t come from a family of “project” people but my husband did so my kids have gotten nice stuff made by hand. My absolute favorite gifts. His grandmother was a knitter. She never met out kids but I love sitting down with them on out couch and wrapping the afghan around them. She made a sweater, hat and blanket for each “set” of grandchildren (so one for my husband and his brother to share) for their children. With a card. Because she knew she would never meet her great-grandchildren but wanted to make them something. What a blessing your grandmother was and still is to you!
Wow, that is so special! Lucky kids.
My husband’s grandmother makes quilts with a sewing machine and occasionally hand quilts. She has won many awards. The weird thing when googling her is that people write whole blog posts about how inspired they are by an 82 year old woman who has been quilting for 60 years. She made all of her grandchildren quilts when they went to college. My husband and I have spent many cold nights under his quilt. When my son and his cousin were born last year she made them both quilts. We keep it tucked away and it comes out for monthly pictures with him, but when we switch him into a big boy bed he will likely sleep with the quilt.
That is the prettiest quilt I’ve ever seen.
Thank you! I agree
I was hoping someone would describe how to clean a soiled quit that has been lovingly used over the years.
What a beautiful quilt Heather. I Love homemade quilts and I don’t own very many. I don’t know how to quilt but I wish I did. What a wonderful treasure to have from your grandma. Their something to have for years to cherish!
I love the quilt your grandmother made of the quilting club. I, too, got my grandmother’s sewing things when she passed. Some of the needles and threads are so old, the packaging is yellowed. I mentioned in an earlier post that I made my kids quilts from the fabric of pajamas I made them over the years. They loved them, I don’t know what happened to them but 30 years later I wish we still had them for their kids. I didn’t think of the value of them then as I do now.
Ahh, I love this post so much. Goosebumps and happy tears.
Which one is your grandma in the quilting club quilt? I love that she used your hands in the design.
We have a beautiful hand-sewn quilt from my husband’s late grandmother. I was so scared and nervous the first time I washed it, but he and his mother insisted I just put it in the washer and dryer like normal. And – it’s totally fine. I’ve now washed it dozens of time, each time with a twinge of “is this really ok??”, but it really has been. I’m scared to tell everyone that it would work fine for their quilts, but this lovely quilt made in 1980 is going strong after decades of love and washing!
She’s the white-haired lady with glasses on the far right! I added a close-up of her square.
Soak it in Biz (in the bathroom?). My mom soaked my grandmother’s christening gown in Biz for 24 hours as it had really yellowed, and it is much better. We also now soak and wash all heirloom clothes so they don’t stain over time.
My dad made a double wedding ring quilt for me. We’ve been using it on the bed and it’s it’s getting a little worse for wear but I’m afraid of damaging it. How did you dry it?
We lay it out in the shade, or at my house we have a covered patio. We’ve also put items on the clothes line with a towel over it to protect it from the sun. The sun will bleach it.
BathTUB. That’s what I meant.
Love your quilt. What a treasure indeed!
Love, love little old treasures!!!
I have little hanky’s my mom gave me as a child and then I passed them on to my daughter and the ones she also gave to my daughter that were my moms (she passed in 2004)
Which is your grandma in the quilt? Love that she used your hand. LOVE!
My grandma got each of her granddaughters a sewing kit just like that for us when we were in elementary school. I still have mine!
Your fan quilt is gorgeous! What a treasure to have your Grandmother’s sewing box and some of her work. I loved this post.
What a great story and quilt. It is amazing what memories a sewing box can bring out. Great post.
My gran traveled cross country twice with her sister. Each stop she got a t-shirt. When she passed 11 years ago (this month) I asked for all her shirts. My cousin quilts and she made me a beautiful quilt out of my grans t-shirts. It was on my bed at home, then to my first apartment, now at my first house with my fiancé. It’s my prized possession and a piece of my gran I will have forever with me.
Quilts are a memory from heaven. So glad you have yours.
My granny worked at a sewing factory for 35 years. She was the most AMAZING seamstress. She could literally sew ANYTHING! Over the years she made quilts, clothes, dolls, easter dresses, curtains, halloween costumes… she even made my sisters wedding dress and all 4 bridesmaid dresses!
Although my granny is still with us, she no longer has the ability to sew. I’ll always treasure the beautiful quilt she made me. I keep it tucked away, afraid to use it, but I’m beginning to thing she would rather I just use it and enjoy it.
B E A U T I F U L! The quilt. And your writing.
Oxyclean worked wonders for me! I used it to clean the dress that both my mother and I came home in. By the time my daughter came home, it was yellowed and dingy. Soaked overnight in Oxyclean and it
came out like new!
I have two of my Great Grandmothers quilts. No one else in my family understood their value. My Mom was partial to an afghan she had made. But I have always loved how heavy a quilt feels. I love how the fabric feels cool on summer days because I can NOT sleep without a blanket, and they are tolerable. I love how somehow in the winter they still feel cool but keep me warm at the same time. On of them is just tatters now. The backing is mostly gone, the lining is completely gone. I can’t help it. I still love it. The other has a hole in it, but overall it’s in better condition. I tried to put one up once, to preserve what is left of it…. but it lasted only a few months until my Dad was sick again, and being that I am 900 miles away from my parents, I needed it. I needed the comfort of that quilt. I wish I had more. I wish I knew how to quilt. I wish my grandmother or my mother did.
I love this post! My sister makes quilts so I forwarded it to her. The quilts are gorgeous!
The quilts are both beautiful! I cannot imagine how long it took her to sew those – I am so glad that you have them (& that your parents are settling into their new home).
What lovely quilting your Grandma did! I read your blog this morning and later in the day had the opportunity to talk with someone who quilts more than I do. I asked her about cleaning quilts. I’ve put ones I’ve made in the washing machine but the older top loading machines can be rough on the fabric.
She says quilt shops sell a special, gentle solution for quilts. If you cannot find it, use any clear, gentle detergent, use a gentle cycle (front loading, low water machines are not as tough on clothes) and don’t put it in the dryer but hang it up to air dry out of the sun.
Hope this helps to keep your lovely quilt in good shape.
What a treasure!!! Your grandma sounds like an amazing lady. What a stunning quilt she made you- how very, very special.
Thank you for sharing this with us!!
This has me in tears. My grandma also loved to sew and made many quilts. I came across some just yesterday. She passed away when I was seventeen and I have been through most of her things in the last 10 years, but yesterday I opened her old trunk and could smell her instantly. Thank you for this. It’s beautiful.
I absolutely love quilts. My “Granny” was a quilter and sewed as well. There is nothing more special than something made from the heart and by the hands of somebody you love. Beautiful quilts Heather.
What a beautiful treasure!
My grandma is a quilter too. Quilts are such amazing, amazing gifts.
This makes me miss my grandma! She’s been gone almost seven years but I cherish everything I have that she touched.
Have you considered using Dreft and Clorox2? Definitely on the delicate cycle.