When has quilt reached the end?

My friend, Pete’s, mother, Sue, has moved and downsized and Pete is going through the POD with the last items that she couldn’t decide what to do with. He asked me to look at some of the quilts.

Pete explained that a lot of them were not family quilts. Many were salvaged from a moving crew who had used them to pad furniture during one of his parents’ moves long ago. they weren’t in good shape then and time had not made them better. Pete laid them out just before I got there. Seeing quilts on a driveway… that doesn’t happen often, does it? But the drive was clean and it did make it easy to see them all quickly.

These quilts would have been wonderful in their younger years but that was then. In the here and now, these quilts are falling apart.

It’s as if the fabric itself is giving up.

These have all been washed a lot and the cotton batting was in clumps in most of them. It makes me very happy that we have good batting today. I will be more grateful when I open my next bag of batting.

This one looked good from a distance, but up close, it too is in bad shape.

This one was worth saving, and Pete spotted a woven ‘Made by Sue Schulze’ label on the back with the date 1970. We think she did what was common in her family and finished up old blocks that had been left to her.

The outer edge isn’t bound—it has inset with big rickrack. Part of one edge is kind of chewed up and if it was me, I would just cut off the dangly parts and leave it alone. I told Pete how to wash it gently and I’ll give him some Retro Clean that might take out some of the stains.

The rest of the quilts will most likely be thrown away. I feel like I should feel worse about that than I do, but I don’t. These quilts lived productive lives and were cuddled along the way and like most things in this world, quilts will not last forever.

It’s like the universe is sending me a message…

When you hear about interesting old quilts…

Last weekend I was working in my yard when a neighbor approached. He reminded me that I had said I’d like to see his grandmother’s unusual quilts. We set a time for me to come over on Tuesday with my camera.

Emma Lee Thacker, my neighbor’s grandmother, died in the 1990s (I think). She made traditional quilts, like this double wedding ring:

And this Lone Star in very pretty colors!

And this Sunbonnet Sue/Holly Hobby:

I like the different flowers held by each Sue. It’s a small thing, but memorable.

But she also made one-of-a-kind special quilts like her Man on the Moon quilt!

She liked bed-size quilts, so the quilt is double-size. The gold moon is at least 3′ in diameter. The details are so much fun!

I particularly like Michael Collins floating up above the surface of the moon in his capsule, surrounded by stars!

Emma Lee liked to enter the State Fair and I suspect she won more than once.

She was proud of her Native American heritage and it shows in this quilt:

This quilt is also bed-size. It has a red border/binding. These figurative quilts are appliqued, embroidered, and quilted by hand. I suspect that some of the fabric (maybe more than some) has polyester in it.

My neighbor said that she made many more quilts that ended up with other family members. Those include the quilts with High School mascots like this one:

She also made a crocheted double wedding ring bed-size summer cover. I can crochet, but not like this. It was amazing!

We are surrounded by images of cool, new quilts today. Instagram, Pinterest, FB… there is so much creativity in the world. But it’s good to be reminded that it has ever been thus. Quilters/crafters/sewists like to express themselves creatively in fabric and fiber.

One day it will be our grandchildren pulling our quilts out to share with others. I can only speak for myself, but these make me want to make even more playful quilts.