All quilts have a history: the history of their maker, the creative and technical processes that went into making them and how they were used throughout their life.
A couple of months ago Linda Kuhn visits me and shows me a quilt she’s thinking of selling. The quilt is reversible with a light pumpkin orange on one side and rose/gold on the other. The 64” x 82” quilt is hand quilted with a medallion design in the middle, clamshell design on the sides and the edges are bound by golden blanket stitches.
After further reflection Linda decides to keep it a bit longer to make certain this is what she wants to do. Recently she reconnects with me and asks me to find a new home for it. We discuss how many quilt buyers like to know their history and Linda gladly shares it:
“This hand quilted quilt was stitched in the 1930s before I was born by my Aunt Florence Smith and her mother my maternal grandmother Catherine Smith who always had a quilt frame set up in an upstairs bedroom at their High Street home in Roanoke.
The fabric was purchased at Richards Department Store, Roanoke, where Florence’s sister Velma worked and she presumably received a discount.
After completion the quilt takes up residence in Aunt Florence’s cedar chest, never to see the light of day on a bed. When she passes away in 1984 my cousin Sandra Stuart inherits the cedar chest and I inherit the quilt. I take it home, wrap it in plastic and store it on a closet shelf. Ten years later I move to my current home and hang it in the closet using one of those wide hangers you get at the dry cleaners.
This is such a beautiful quilt it deserves to be used on a bed. The muted colors are just as beautiful as they were when it was made. I think it would look great in a girl’s room where depending on the size of the bed a dust ruffle could be used to accent it.
I restore furniture and I’m always interested in the history of old items. It would make me feel so good to know my Aunt and Grandmother’s fine needlework did not live out its entire life sitting in a cedar chest or hanging in a closet. I am so grateful my relatives told me the history of the making of this quilt. I wish everyone took the time to label their handwork for future generations.”
Now who wants to write its next chapter?
Lois Levihn is owner of Born Again Quilts. She can be contacted at 260-515-9446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.