Grandma's Quilts

On Wednesday, April 4, 2012, Grandma and I spent a couple of hours going through all of the quilts she has still in her possession. (You can read about that day by clicking here.) Most of the quilts she has made over the last 70+ years have been given away, of course. But she still had many stashed in the old chest at the foot of the guest bed, on the quilt rack in her bedroom and on the beds. Let's take a tour through these quilts.

Here's 95-year-old Grandma, looking very spry for her years. She always looks so pretty when she wears red, and I was so glad she was wearing this shirt for these pictures! This is her bed, with a quilt that is so typical of what she always liked best: blue quilts; patriotic quilts; traditional star blocks.

The quilt consists of 2 blocks: Ohio Star and Stepping Stones. She placed the blocks on point, and the resulting Stepping Stone design seems to frame each Ohio Star. All of Grandma's quilts are hand-pieced. This one is also hand-quilted.

This quilt rack in Grandma's bedroom hold 3 quilts, all of which are hand-quilted. Do you see what I mean when I say she is partial to blue??

We've moved into the guest room to photgraph these quilts. With two windows, we have much better light here than in her bedroom. This quilt was on the quilt rack in her bedroom and was in the photo above, being held out (it's sort of washed out in the pic).

This very patriotic quilt is made of Ohio Star blocks. She hand-pieced and hand-quilted this.

The Churn Dash is one of my favorite blocks, and Grandma was in the process of using up her stash with this one. Each block is made with a variety of blues, which Grandma had plenty of. The quilting in the setting squares and triangles became rather a signature design she used in her later years of quilting.

This pinwheel quilt is the one that is kept on the guest room bed. Again, she was determined to use up her scraps, so each block is made with leftovers from previous quilts. The rose colored sashing strips and blue cornerstones are probably leftovers, too. This quilt is beginning to fade a bit, as it's in that room with two windows. She hand-pieced and hand-quilted this quilt.

At the foot of the guest bed is an extremely old chest. Grandma is leaning on it here, and she made the padded cover that you see to protect it. Below, the cover has been thrown back. The top has a very cool feature.

The name Hannah Shipman is inscribed there. She is an ancestor on my maternal grandfather's side. His mother was a Shipman. This piece may well date to the 1700s. The story she says she always heard was that the first Shipmans in Grandpa's family to settle in Ohio brought this with them. The grandmother or great-grandmother (of whoever was telling the story) had all her possessions in this trunk. I have some genealogy on the Shipmans; I need to see if I can locate Hannah.

Okay, back to quilts. In that chest at the foot of the bed, Grandma keeps all the rest of the quilts we will look at here, including this one, above. This was made from scraps of dresses my mother and aunt wore as toddlers. That Lemoyne Star became a go-to block for Grandma throughout the years, but I never had seen any set together with the rings surrounding the star.

Here is a close-up of the Lemoyne Star. I was interested in these fabrics (above) as they look a lot like some of the fabrics coming out today, 60 or 70 years later.

This block is interesting because it is the same fabric in two different colors. Grandma explained that she often made dresses for Mom and Aunt Nancy like this. So, whenever she had leftover fabric from these dresses, she would use them in the same block, such as shown here.

Here is yet another block from the same quilt.

This quilt was used a lot, as evidenced by the wear on the border. Grandma says the quilt also might have some "sun rot" which comes from excessive exposure to sulight. It was hand-pieced and hand-quilted.

This quilt is an appliqued daisy. Most of the prints used in the flowers came from Aunt Margaret's high school dresses. Aunt Margaret is several years younger than Mom. When she was in junior high and high school, plaids, stripes, and checks were in vogue, so that is what is featured in this quilt.

A second applique daisy quilt, using prints this time, as opposed to plaids and stripes which the previous quilt had. A lot of these fabrics were originally feedsacks that Grandma used for dresses and skirts for the girls.

This basket quilt uses more feedsack fabrics from my mother's dresses as well as her two sisters' dresses.

Here's a close-up of one of the baskets. Grandma is pointing out something, but it's been so long now, I can't recall what she was saying about it. (I will ask her; I am visiting her on Wednesday.) Added later: Grandma says this fabric is from the very first little dress she made for my Aunt Nancy when she was a newborn. Nancy is the oldest of Mom's siblings, and Grandma was not an accomplished seamstress at that time. She said she made the little dress all by hand, even though she had a sewing machine. Later, she used the dress fabric in this quilt. Doing the math, that would make this fabric from 1935.

This quilt is extremely long. We have covered not only the bed, but also the chest at the foot of the bed! It is an embroidered quilt featuring the state flowers of all 50 states. She found the pattern for sale in the back of a magazine (this was a common practice back in the early-to-mid-1900s).

Here is Ohio's block with the carnation, our state flower.

It looks like Tennessee's state flower is the iris.

Since she had 50 blocks to place, the middle was handled without setting blocks.

This was one of the last few quilts Grandma made. She hand-pieced it, but had me take it to a woman for machine-quilting. It's red and green, but not traditional reds and greens.The red has a pink-ish cast to it, and the green has a blue-ish cast. So I can see why they were leftovers in her closet; they really wouldn't have matched much, I imagine. Anyway, she decided to use them together with a muslin and this is what resulted. The quilt would look nice for Christmas decorating, even with the off-color red and green.

More blues!! More Ohio Stars!! Grandma was again attempting to  use up the remaining fabrics in her closet. These blocks are really huge. I like the setting for them, and you can tell that each block has its own background fabric -- some is light blue, some is off-white, it's quite a mish-mash. You can see that this was also machine-quilted.

Another quilt from the last few she pieced. There must have been a sizeable piece of blue left in the closet, along with the neutral used in this quilt. It's been machine-quilted. I do love that Churn Dash. Grandma does love her blues!

Check out all the borders on this quilt. This is how you use up fabric, and increase the size of a quilt. Again, these fabrics were some of the last pieces in the closet, and this is how Grandma decided to make use of them. She hand-quilted this, I see. Those chains quilted into the borders were some of her favorites to use. The four fabrics in the border are the same four used in the anvil blocks.

You might think you've already seen this one, but I assure you, you have not. It looks to be the same exact pattern as the one shown at the very top on Grandma's bed. This one is, indeed, different, however. The earlier one was made with a collection of patriotic fabrics, whereas this one is just simple calico cottons. Grandma must have had quite a bit of yardage of these two fabrics, so she went to her standard Ohio Star and Stepping Stone blocks for yet another blue quilt.

Here's a closeup of the fabrics. I always liked that dark blue used in this. Can you see that it's a paisley? It's quite possible that I bought this fabric for her. Of course I knew she loved  blue, and whenever I was out in a fabric shop, I often fed her fondness by picking up some blues for her, usually fat quarters, but sometimes yardage, as well.

This is the Stepping Stone block. As batting became more stable, Grandma didn't have to quilt so close together and she more often than not did a lot of stitch-in-the-ditch quilting.

Well, that concludes the trip through Grandma's quilt stash. We refolded each one, differently than before to prevent damage, and replaced them in the chest. There is one more quilt on the little bed in the 3rd bedroom to photograph. She usually has stuff out on that bed, though, so I will need to get that pic when I can.

I am considering asking all the cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews to take pictures of any quilts they have that Grandma made and gave to them. They could then forward those pics to me, and I could add them to this page over time.

Whew!! What a job that will be! Grandma quilted for 70+ years! That's a lot of quilts!


The first of (hopefully) many additions to Grandma's page. The little bedroom has a twin bed, and on it Grandma keeps a pretty Monkey Wrench quilt.

This has that neat quilted design in the setting blocks. That same design has been on some of the earlier quilts. I know I have at least one quilt, also, on which Grandma used that design. She disliked having to mark quilts, so she used the edge of her ruler to do this. I really like it.

AND, for Grandma's 90th birthday party, guests signed blocks for this signature quilt. Grandma has it hanging in her TV/sitting room. I used scrap blue and red from my stash to make this. Grandma actually quilted it - she said she really enjoyed quilting it because she could think about the many friends and relatives whose signatures were on the blocks. It was one of the very last quilts she worked on.

From Aunt Margaret's Collection

October 2012

Made in the early 1960's from Aunt Margaret's dresses. You can read the post about this quilt by clicking here.

 Uncle Nick's "Go Bucks" quilt. Grandma used the Ohio Star and Stepping Stones blocks for this quilt, made in the 1990s, as best as we can guess.

 From the John Wharton Family

April 2013

I had a wonderful, memory-filled day on April 20, 2013, when Mom and I took Grandma to Peebles to a quilt show that Marilyn Wharton's quilt group sponsored. You can read about that wonderful day by clicking here and here. Grandma made this quilt for Uncle John and Aunt Nina's wedding in 1949.

From Ellen Wharton Chicoine
January 2016

I wrote about these quilts in the blog post dated January 5, 2016. Ellen is my first cousin; her father and my mother are brother and sister.