Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Four more quilts made by my grandma

Here are four more quilts from my grandmother, Frances Burger. I should have explained that she was a quilter for many years, but in the 1960s, I believe it was, she invested in a quilting machine, a big ceiling-mounted frame and a heavy-duty sewing machine. They were living in the town of Rosalia, Kansas, having moved off the farm by that point, and their lot was large, so Grandpa pulled an old frame house onto the back lot and put it up on blocks, then knocked out an interior wall to allow the full length of the house for the quilting setup. She went into business machine quilting people's tops. In between, she quilted quite a few of her own, and we, her family, still have a bunch of them, which we treasure. She preferred an allover ocean waves stitch. She tended to quilt her tops quite densely, and as a result they tended to be sturdy. (As she got older, her quilting got a little less dense; the older quilts have held up the best.)

First is this sweet old scrappy quilt. I am guessing the fabrics were pieces of shirting or maybe dresses. Mostly sombre colors with those splashes of red in there and the pink sashing. I remember this quilt being something to cuddle up with in the back seat when the car was cold, or to haul along on a picnic to sit on. (I may be wrong. My memories are frequently faulty. Maybe they are someone else's. Or maybe I just make them up.)

The old sweetheart is frayed and threadbare, but still pretty.

Next is this one, which Mom and I both looked at and thought might have been pieced by someone else, as it just didn't look like a "Grandma quilt" to us, but then Mom looked again and saw a piece from a dress she used to wear, so we knew. All those curves, ack! I do not piece curves. Grandma didn't do them very often, either, but here she went curve crazy.

This quilt is not in bad shape except the binding is worn out. That's an easy fix.

Next we have a quilt that is fairly typical for near the end of my grandma's quilting career: Very bright colors and a crazy patch in strips. She loved piecing crazy quilts, and as she grew older, her love of color led her to piece wilder and wilder crazy tops. This one is so bright it might keep one up at night if it were on a bed, but I still love it, because it's Grandma's. Mom says it may well be the last quilt Grandma was able to machine quilt, as her ocean waves looked to be getting away from her a little and it still needs to be bound, and there are lots of thread ends and the occasional straight pin waiting to stab the unwary. There was quite a bit of the backing fabric still with the quilt and I plan to use it as binding.

And last, my favorite of the four: Another crazy patch, this one in much more subdued colors. Mom said Grandma made it especially to go with their living room when they bought a new couch. I remember how excited we all were about that couch: It was a lovely olive green velour and was NOT easy to get into the house. Overstuffed, mountainous, very 1970s. Anyway this quilt graced the back of the couch for years. Unfortunately, one particular fabric of which it was pieced did not hold up well to time, so many blocks have a piece that has disintegrated. But it's quilted so sturdily that it is still quite usable. The binding is a fabric that is a little bit shiny and almost bronze in color, very pretty!


amandajean said...

what beautiful quilts to have from your grandmother! what wonderful treasures!!! I loved reading the stories behind them. I also enjoyed reading about how they pulled a frame house in, knocked out an interior wall and set up a quilting business. that is fabulous.

Aaron said...

Hi, sis. Thanks for the history and the memories of The Quilting House. Do you remember the screech-thwack-thwack-thwack-thwack sound that the screen door made on summer nights as it was opened and allowed to slam closed?

That sound stuck in my brain for years, and came forth wistfully when Vania and I bought our first house - complete with screened back porch. The door made almost exactly the same sound, and it took me back to childhood every time I heard it.

Another Quilting House memory: one morning when I was lying in the foldaway cost nearest the quilting machine. I was awake, but forbidden to get out of bed or make any noise, lest I annoy the 'rents in the next room.

Bored ol' me spotted the on-off switch for the machine, and after a while I reached over and pushed it. What a racket! (the machine was plugged in, obviously)

Papa threw back the covers, thundered over to switch it off, and gave me what-for. I never touched that switch again.

Just one correction on your post: the Couch of Destiny was gold, not olive. Are you thinking of the dark green woven couch that preceded it?

Northeast Iowa Mom said...

Really?? But but but... Well, like I said, my memory is faulty. Yet I know I moved around some green velour cushions while we were working on the basement last week, and I thought they came from the couch.

If not, I don't know WHERE the green cushions came from.

Mama still has one of the Danish Modern living room chairs that used to be in the living room, predating the Stuffy 1970s Era.