This string quilt was made by my great-aunt, Matilda (Tildy) Galbraith. My grandmother was raised by her sister, Tildy, when their mother died in 1921. My grandmother, Alma, was six, and Tildy was 22, already married with two daughters. Aunt Tildy’s husband, Tom, ran the company store in Closplint, a little coal mining town in Harlan Co., Kentucky. My grandparents met there – teen-aged Alma was working behind the counter and my grandfather was a junior mining engineer newly arrived at the mine. We had quite a few of Aunt Tildy’s quilts around the house when I was growing up. I understand that this is a quilt that she made in the 30s, although I never talked to her about her quilting since I was mainly a garment sewer as a young woman.
It is hand-pieced and hand-quilted, with cotton batting, and the back is a simple, unbleached muslin. They didn’t have a lot of money, and she used what she had on hand. You can see that she didn’t have enough light blue fabric to complete the sashing; she just added in what she had. And the same thing for the striped border that only goes on two sides of the quilt. We have only recently retired this quilt; it has seen daily use by four generations of our family!
Aunt Tildy lived well into her nineties, and kept quilting for most of that time. As she got older, her technique changed. The newest quilt we have made by her dates from the 70s – it is large alternating squares of pink and white cotton, pieced and quilted by machine. It is very plain and the seams aren’t terribly straight, but it is large enough to cover two in a double bed, which is what she intended, and we are still using it today.
When people ask me why I quilt, I think of Aunt Tildy’s quilts and how they tie me to the women of my family, and how they are a legacy of love and connection. I think about how my quilts of today may be treasured by my daughter and her children long after my days.
Anyone else itching to go string-piece some blocks?? Loving this series of guest posts, y’all!