Friday, November 5, 2010

grandma ida's crazy quilt

grandma ida's crazy quilt, detail

this is the other lovely (an understatement perhaps?!) heirloom that i inherited from my grandparents on my recent trip home to Michigan. um, i don't have words....i'm just flabbergasted and awed and humbled by it's beauty and meaning and i feel incredibly honored that i get to take care of it until the next generation of our family comes along...hopefully someone who knows a bit about sewing and will appreciate all the hard work and talent that went into it!

grandma ida's crazy quilt, detail

the box was found in my great grandma ida's ceder chest upon her death and we're not certain if she worked on it or if it was in fact begun by her mother, fannie, who was known to be a bit more crafty in her time. my granny and i poured over the thing looking to identify certain stitches and styles and we both agree that it's probably likely more than one person contributed to it.

there are eight quilt blocks in all, some that have been embellished with embroidered top-stitching and some still left to do. they were all folded up neatly in this little old christmas box (which is totally going to have a place of honor among our christmas decorations although i bet my ancestors would laugh). can you believe that the needle was still stuck in one of the blocks, threaded and all?! and look at all that original floss and thread that we found in the bottom. my quilter self and my nerdy museum worker self is going nuts:

grandma ida's crazy quilt

all of the pieces seem to be upcycled from silk ties, handkerchiefs, menswear fabrics, and a few knits, velvets, and tapestry pieces here and there. it's amazing to me how conscious they were of not wasting a single little scrap of fabric...check out those button holes from a men's shirt that was used to piece part of the back!

grandma ida's crazy quilt, detail

my museum trained self is afraid to touch it and i want to take my time in deciding how to finish it. my mind just reels thinking about ones similar to this that i've seen in textile museums! i talked to granny about wanting to be able to piece all the blocks together while keeping true to the original style but she said something that really struck a chord with me, "don't be afraid to add your own element to it, your own part of the quilt's story."


IfiHadaHammer said...

Wow! How incredible! What a great piece of family history.

Angela said...

Crazy quilts are so much fun! Maybe you could frame the squares in album or scrapbook frames?

maureencracknell said...

I love seeing quilts like this -- what a treasure!!!

Emily Elizabeth said...

I think it would be a great idea to add a bit of yourself to the quilt. A bit of old meets new...

Mama_Amethyst said...

The quilt is incredible! I'm so happy that you not only appreciate the work that has gone into it, but you get to add your own elements to it as well. I grew up with a quilt much like the one you will put together that my mom and her grandma made together. I am hoping that I too, am so blessed to take care of such a family heirloom someday. I would love to make a piece quilt someday with a loved one. I'm so very happy for you. Thanks for sharing such a part of yourself and your family's history.

Meeling said...


Being a quilter myself it's always interesting seeing what people have used over the years for their "fabric".

Thanks for sharing...hope you're having a great day!