Thursday, February 16, 2017

How valuable is that Quilt by Linda K. Hubalek

"The Quilt", by Edward Henry Spernon Tozer (English, 1864-1955)
Isn’t it funny how we used “old bedding” when we were growing up, and now realize how valuable these antique quilts are due to the work and love put into each of them?
When my parents downsized to a smaller home, they didn’t have room for two trunks of old quilts, and I was lucky to inherit them. Inside these wooden chests were the handmade quilts, made by my great grandmother and grandmother, which we had used on our own beds when I was young.
My childhood years in the 1960s were spent in a wood frame house built back in 1870. This house was featured in my Butter in the Well book series. The only heat for my upstairs bedroom came from a floor vent, which let a little warmth drift up from the room below. Therefore, during the winter months, there were “blanket sheets” on my bed, plus three or four quilts on top.
Then I grew up, left home, and started using the light modern blankets on my bed.
Looking through the inherited quilts again brought back many memories. Not only of the quilts, but other flashes—like tucking my feet up inside the flowered flannel nightgown I wore to bed, pink sponge curlers, and having only my nose sticking out from under the pile of bedding.
Now I think of how we treated those quilts that we had used for everyday bedding, and am amazed that they survived.
I marvel at the thousands of tiny handmade stitches and the variety and colors of the fabric—all scraps from past clothing of my ancestors.
How many hours did the quilters spend cutting out the block pieces, and then sewing them together?
Who sat around the quilting frame to quilt them? Relatives, friends, neighbors?
What was the conversation those days back in the late 1800s and early 1900s?
Did these women ever consider their handwork would keep their descedants warm after they were gone? Or that I would treasure these quilts and the memories of the quilters a century later?
Just think, whether it was a hundred years ago—or present time—a quilt made by someone’s hand, is keeping another person warm.
How valuable is that? Priceless…
North Dakota Quilters, circa 1885

Thanks for visiting Sweethearts of the West today!

Linda Hubalek


  1. Oh, Linda, what a great post, especially because you wrote it from your own personal memories. I, too have a special quilt my grandmother made, sewn with squares from my school clothes. I look at it often and think of my dear "Nana." It is, "priceless!" Loved Tozer's painting and quilters photo.

  2. I have several old quilts that were my mother-in-laws. When she passed away she had two quilt boxes full. My sister-in-law and I gathered some for each of our children and ourselves, and then took the remaining to a family reunion for our cousins to enjoy. They were delighted.

    1. How special that you passed the quilts on to relatives. Good idea!

  3. And here it is--another of my favorite things--quilts. OLD quilts. My mother quilted and daddy built quilting frames to hang from the ceiling..rolled up when not in use, down when ready to use when "the ladies came to a quilting."
    But the "Piecing" of the quilts is the interesting parts.
    I own a book called Texas Tears and Texas Sunshine..Voices of Frontier Women.
    The book is in four parts, each part a time in the history of Texas and each part is titled for a real quilt pattern: Log Cabin, Lone Star, Texas Tears, and Texas Sunshine.
    It's the writings and diaries of our female Texas ancestors, who, they say, "settled Texas." While the men were off doing this or that, the women stayed home and made "Texas."
    I've used several of these women's stories for SOTW entries. Some have made me cry as I wrote them.
    All of these women hold a place in the history of Texas.
    As to quilts, Mother made so many, and eventually us three girls had our own made from a favorite dress, etc.
    Of course, we grew up sleeping under these quilts..and Lord, those things were heavy. Over the years, I've handed to down and along to my kids, and the only ones I know of that have survived are in my closet..carefully wrapped and preserved. Very old ones.
    I made one quilt in my life--about the size of and oblong dining table..not big. I chose the fabrics Mother gave me, the shaped of the pieces, and I pieced the quilt by hand...I was ten years old. Then she helped me with the batting, etc. and I then quilted it myself. I have it today, 66 years later, on top of a cedar chest. It is faded, worn, and not so straight.
    I love it. But who will want this when I die? No one...not even my daughter. Sigh.
    Thanks, Linda.

    1. My girls have already told me that they don't want all that old stuff I've saved - they don't even care about family photos!

    2. Oh yes, the quilts were heavy. There was no heat upstairs in our old 1870 house and I'm sure I had at least three quilts on the bed during the worst of the winter. Today's light as air blankets just don't feel "right" but it's sure easier to move underneath them.

  4. I grew up in a household where clothes, curtains, slip covers, and quilts were all made at home and not bought at stores. My grandmother made each of us a quilt when we were born. Mine was a quilt with kittens in baskets. I loved it, but I was a fire bug when I was five. I had my quilt in my wagon one day when I watched a neighbor was burning leaves and I got too close to the fire. Hot coals fell on the quilt and I was so afraid my parents would be angry with me that I buried the quilt and never told them what happened. I regret that I didn't save it and get my grandmother to repair it. My grandmother did make me another quilt which I think she originally planned to give to a male cousin since it has cars on it. I still have it. It's a little worn around the edges, but it's my lucky quilt. I take it with me whenever I go into the hospital and when I feel ill at home. Kinda weird I guess, but I always got well.
    This was such a good article because you brought home how special quilts are and all the time, effort, skill, and love that goes into making them. I am the only person in our family who still cares about them. My sister has her quilts in a trunk. I continue to use mine. No use saving it for a rainy day.
    A lovely article, Linda.

    1. Oh Sarah, I can just imagine how scared you were that you damaged the quilt. Makes me think of a few silly/stupid things I did as a five or six year old that sticks in my mind too. Glad you still received another quilt from your grandmother though.

  5. Flannel sheets, wool blankets and down quilts were normal winter bedding when I grew up in the north. I still remember turning down the spread, removing it, and pulling up the quilt every night And that plain quilt was tucked into its own cover that buttoned. My mom insisted that I learn to make my bed. Fortunately she wasn't well enough to do the stairs so I got away with murder. (An unmade bed!) But usually right after Christmas it was announced that the rooms would be aired. A ritual that took place several times a year! Then I had to strip the bed to its ticking and everything came downstairs. Yanking it off was easy but putting it back together wasn't. Stuffing that quilt back into its big "pocket" took time, otherwise it was lumpy. But the scent of crispy-clean air and freshly laundered bedding, blankets, and quilts made it worthwhile. Then I climbed under what seemed like 50 lbs. I still have that old down quilt but it has a new pocket. I only use it in dire emergencies such as a power outage on a cold winter night, but those old wool blankets are long gone! Living a few hundred miles south has helped with the cold nights. They are rare here.

    1. I still put on flannel sheets on our bed during the winter, but have an electric blanket to keep us toasty instead of a pile of quilts. Thanks for sharing your memory!

    2. Cotton flannel even works in the summer to wick away perspiration. And with AC, we often need something light on us.

      I bought a new blanket this winter and I'm as bad as a child with a blankie. The thing is super light in weight, fuzzy soft, washes easily, and dries in no time at all. The old handmade items are wonderful, pieces of our past to cherish, but the new stuff it ten times more practical.


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