CHURCH LADIES AND THEIR QUILTS – Around The Frame

Bonnie Pilditch, Marty Smith, Barb Greer, and Deb Neuenschwander and the Greer Family quilt made by Mary Wilkes Bass circa 1870-1890.At the Born Again Quilts studio it is always delightful to have groups stop by. Homemaker Clubs, church groups, quilt guilds and sewing circles have all passed through the doors to see the restoration work in progress, to learn how to fold, store and hang quilts and often to learn something about a family quilt they have brought with them.

This past June a group of ladies from Christ Community Church met at the studio. They are members of the church’s sewing group that makes baby quilts, lap quilts for hospice patients, pillowcases for cancer patients, fleece blankets and other items for adults with disabilities.

I can’t recall hosting a group where every woman brought a quilt to show and discuss. Each took their turn describing the history of their quilt, how it came into their possession and the issues (if any) the quilt was experiencing. One quilt had faded fabrics; another had fabric with holes where formerly dye created a pattern. Some of the women knew their quilt’s pattern names, others did not and they were researched to discover some were known by multiple names.

Barb Greer brought in a quilt made of squares I estimated to have been made in the mid-to-late 1800s based on its cheddar, red/black, double pinks and madder brown prints. I pointed out certain deteriorated fabrics and explained how the dyeing techniques of the day caused certain fabrics to rot. Barb was intrigued to learn more about the quilt and asked her 90-year-old father-in-law Henry W. Greer about it: He thinks the quilt was most likely made by his paternal grandmother Mary Wilkes Bass of Lumberton, Mississippi.

Mrs. Bass was born in 1855 and died at 102 in 1957. Barb’s late husband Keith inherited the quilt in the ‘80s when he was moving items out of his grandmother’s home and he was told to use “this old quilt” to wrap the furniture to protect it from getting scratched.

Barb confesses she has been keeping the quilt in her textile graveyard attic and thought of getting rid of it because it was frayed and she knew she couldn’t restore it herself. Now she sees this family quilt in a whole new light: as a century-plus old fragile beauty deserving of restoration so it can be passed down, along with its history, for generations to come.

All the ladies left with their quilts in hand except one lucky quilt that stayed behind ready to be restored anew.
These church ladies will be among the artisans and craftsman selling unique items at the “Talents to Treasures” show on Saturday, October 17 from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Christ Community Church, 10616 Liberty Mills Road. Demonstrators will be on hand demonstrating such skills as wood carving, pot throwing and spinning.

Proceeds benefit the projects of the Women’s Ministry fund so they continue their sewing projects to benefit people in need.

Lois Levihn is the owner of Born Again Quilts restoration studio and shop located at 4005 South Wayne Avenue. She can be reached at 260-515-9446 or bornagainquilts@frontier.com.

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Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer