Thursday, June 11, 2009
One Quilter's Heritage
I wanted to share my first quilt with all of you. It’s on our bed now, now that we live in a house where we can fairly easily keep the dogs out of the bedrooms. It’s a double wedding ring and the fabric is all commercial cottons in teal, cobalt, blue-violet, purple, red-violet, and magenta. I designed the color ways, the layout and cut all the fabrics. My mother-in-law sewed and I think my sister-in-law may have helped by ironing. The three of us have made a number of quilts together in this way, I design and cut and keep the process moving and the two of them (or maybe the Mennonite grandmas instead of the SIL) keep the assembly line moving.
It’s pretty intense but we’ve made some pretty cool quilts this way and we can come pretty close to making a full bed sized quilt in a day. That’s important since we live in different states and very rarely get together. This quilt was quilted by my mother-in-law and my husband’s Mennonite grandmothers, some of their friends may have added some stitches here and there as well.
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This quilt is one made by my father’s mother. The colors are washed out by direct sunshine, an overcast day would have made better photos. My grandmother was a beautiful Mennonite woman with her ultra conservative dress, a covering with strings and wire rim glasses. She made many beautiful quilts, always with an amazing degree of excellence. Her corners were always perfect and her stitches were tiny and ultra even.
I remember as a child that there was a gathering in Ohio where the quilts were distributed, one for each grandchild. I was the youngest child of her youngest child, and so I got the first choice though I have no idea why they did it that way. I may have been about five or six and when they asked me to choose I pointed immediately at this one. Someone muttered that I had good taste and had chosen the prettiest one. I guess even at that age I responded to colors like these. I have a variety of old quilts, some really amazing examples of Mennonite and Amish artisan design and execution and they are among my very favorite things. I count these quilts along with my heritage as part of my development as an artist and a quilt designer.