Antique Quilts: Guest Post from Amy

We’re still unpacking from our move, and then re-packing for our family vacation (an unfortunate fluke of scheduling that they fell right on top of one another, but one does not look a home sale or a vacation in the mouth, as it were), so I’ve lined up some guest posts based on my vintage quilt from a few weeks back. Today, Amy of Pick-n-Stitch shares her family’s “Sick Quilt.” Makes me want to start a tradition with our quilts of having a specific quilt for when they’re feeling low–something that will continue to cheer them when I’m long gone.

My mother, almost 90 and suffering from Alzheimer’s for many years, passed away in January, so this spring my siblings and I took on the duty of cleaning out the family home. Cleaning out actually means vacillating between being productive, and becoming lost in warm memories. Mostly the latter was happening. As we opened one of the big boxes of bed linens, we all smiled. Here were the family quilts. Most were in pretty good condition, but the one we all loved the most was also the one that was the most tattered.

We call it The Sick Quilt, but I know that’s not a very good name. Let me explain. As children, it’s the quilt we all remember being wrapped up in and cuddled in when we were sick. When that quilt came out of the closet, we knew it meant Mom was going to take care of us till we felt better. It meant we were going to be allowed to lay on the couch and be close by Mom as she floated around the house doing all the mysterious things moms do. It meant that when Dad came home and saw us lying there, we’d get extra hugs and attention. It’s interesting how objects can bring back such vivid memories.

Well, apparently we loved that quilt almost to pieces, and now it was time to decide what to do with it. There’s hardly a square foot on it that isn’t ripped, worn through, or missing. We’re not sure if it was made by our mother or our grandmother, but it’s probably from the 1930’s or 40’s. It’s hard to tell since the fabrics are simple blue and white solids. It’s machine pieced and hand quilted. But we do know it was used to cuddle us kids starting around 1950. We don’t remember if it was worn looking even then, we only remember how good it made us feel.

As horrifying as this may be to some of you, we’ve decided that since it’s beyond repair as a quilt, we’re going to take a scissors to it to salvage what we can for pillows. Pillows each of us can treasure, pillows that can help us feel better when we’re down, pillows that remind us of our dear parents and all they did for us. What better legacy can a quilt hope for?

Amy Menges
Pick ‘n’ Stitch: sew craft creatively

I’ve thought of breaking up my grandmother’s quilt into smaller pieces, too–what do all of you think?  Is that a warm and thoughtful way to preserve the past, or does it take away from the beauty of a fading quilt?

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  • Little Lizard
    July 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    I am in love with this tradition. We have a plethora of quilts in our home, and I cannot wait to start the sick quilt tradition. What a wonderful way to build memories!
    Thank you for sharing the sweetness…

  • Camille
    July 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I couldn’t do it, but I can totally understand the desire to remake a quilt into something you can continue to use and enjoy.