Quilts from the attic

Sparks and I have been making the rounds to visit relatives, including all of my grandparents. At my fathers’ mother’s house, I asked to see again two antique quilts that she inherited from her mother and aunt, who made them together in the early part of the 20th century.

Grandma’s aunt, Madge, who I knew also, had rheumatic fever and polio within a year of each other when she was a teenager. She had to learn to walk again, and always used a cane. This didn’t stop her from becoming a very modern woman, living alone in an apartment in Indianapolis and working as a newspaper reporter. But, while she was recuperating at home, she worked on two breathtaking quilts.

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The first is a bluebird pattern. Do you see the three birds?

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The stitches have that antique tinyness. I find it hard to imagine being able to do this.

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The quilting is intricate and dense, and the piecing is deadly precise. It is actually easier to piece accurately by hand than with a machine, because the whole process is slowed down and much more controlled.

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The border of the quilt is a wooden fence pattern, complete with gates.

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The second quilt is a prairie star. These diamonds are tiny. The finished size is perhaps an inch in the smaller dimension.

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A closeup of the center star.

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Grandma and I speculated about what color the greenish patches might have been originally. Aqua? Dark blue?

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This quilt is quilted with elaborate decorative medallions, also.

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