Bringing New Life To Old Quilts

March is National Quilt month and what better way to celebrate this month than to talk about old quilts!!

Some of my very favorite quilts are old, torn, scrap quilts made of clothing or old flour sacks.  I imagine stories that will never be told about these quilts when I rescue them from Goodwill, Salvation Army, garage sales, estate sales, or church rummage sales.  If only they could talk and tell me their history.  I wonder who made them and if they were made for someone special.   I imagine all the love that went into each and every stitch, whether it’s pieced by hand or machine and hope the original owner knows I’m giving their quilt top a new lease on life to be loved and appreciated.

I don’t remember my mom’s mother since she passed away when I was 3 almost 4, but I have a quilt made by her just for me.  It was loved by me, threadbare in places and missing applique pieces in others.  My quilt was tied with string, but each little sunbonnet Sue was hand appliqued.  So many little stitches to hold those ladies.  I’m sure many of the fabrics were pieces left from her clothing, or my mom’s.  That quilt, my very first quilt, is what started my love of old quilts.  I have removed all the ties, binding and separated the top from the back, with the hope one day I will lovingly repair all the Sue’s and then quilt it all the while quietly thanking her for making my first quilt.  I wish more than anything she and I could have quilted together, but I imagine she would be happy I taught myself to quilt and appreciate all the love that goes into each of my stitches.

When Amanda was planning her wedding, I pulled out of the closet some of my rescued quilt tops to quilt.  Outdoor November weddings in the mountains can be cold in Arizona and we were going to need some quilts.  These 2 quilt tops came from a church rummage sale in Illinois.  Although I don’t know the first chapter of their story, they came from my husband’s birth state to begin their newest chapter entitled love, here in Arizona.

This quilt I have to admit, may be one of my top favorites.  First because its mainly pink and second because I know I will never make a dresden plate quilt.  The amazing colors, with no rhyme or reason, crazy fabric choices from years gone by and all those fabulous tiny stitches just make my heart flutter with joy.  One day I will quilt it and give it a new lease on life to be loved by my family knowing all too well that it will end up with Amanda who loves pink just as much as I do.

Who doesn’t love plaid?  This quilt is truly a scrap quilt right down to stitching small pieces together to make larger pieces.   The whole quilt top was hand pieced of uneven squares cut by scissors without the convenience we now have of rotary cutting blades and rulers.  I imagine the person who pieced the top had to be frugal and the final quilt was meant to be a utilitarian quilt to keep their loved ones warm. 

It makes me wonder if sleeping under these special quilts allow our dreams to travel to the far-off places where the quilt began.  Once I’ve finished the rescue process (pressing, deciding on the quilting pattern, chosen backing, binding and thread colors, quilted it and then finally binding) it moves to a prominent place in my home where it can be used and loved.  They make me happy.  I believe in using a quilt instead of sitting it in a corner so it doesn’t get dirty.  A quilt gives comfort and love when your sick, sad, cold or grieving.  It has healing powers like no other, the next time you come across an old tattered, unfinished quilt, take time to appreciate all the love that went into it by its maker. Take it home, make the repairs, give it that special place it deserves with your family and imagine its story.