Vintage Quilts: Guest Post from Camille

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, Camille shares her lovely great-grandmother’s quilt, which she inherited.  Hope you love her story as much as I do!

Growing up, I remember going to my Mama and Papa’s house, playing in the front yard that seemed enormous at the time and marveling at all the “weird” things in and around their house. It was like time stopped in 1965. There were metal awnings over all the windows, a clothesline and at Christmastime, a silver tree with a light underneath that rotated through several different colors. But the piece de resistance was, by far, the sewing machine. It was manual, set in a little table with a huge pedal underneath that made it move. My sisters and I would kneel under the table and press the pedal with both hands to see how fast we could make it go.
Mama, my maternal great-grandmother, turned 92 this month. A mother of four feisty girls and a little boy who didn’t make it past infancy, she worked in a textile mill while her husband sold Hav-a-Tampa cigars. Mama lives in an assisted-living facility now, and when her daughters went through all her things for the move, my mom, sisters and I ended up with what I think are the most precious of items: her handmade aprons and quilts.
Raising four girls in Greenville, SC on workers’ wages, my great-grandparents didn’t have much money, so the items my Mama made are utilitarian. The aprons keep your clothes clean and the quilts keep you warm. Even so, she put ruffles and ric-rac on the aprons, and made the quilts in bright colors. This is the quilt my youngest sister calls Pinky: the top is pink and green with a grid pattern (is there a name for this?) The bottom is a plain green that I’m sure was much more vibrant in its younger days. It is hand tied with bright pink thread and (used to be) bound with scraps of what I think is muslin.

The neatest thing about Mama’s quilts is that the batting isn’t batting at all. It’s old bedspreads and whatever other rags she had on hand. This one is batted with a blue ticking of some kind, and a white chenille blanket. Pinky’s many holes come in handy for getting a good look at it:

Pinky isn’t going to win any beauty contests, and it’s unlikely the High Museum will want to add her to their folk art collection. But after at least 60-some-odd years she still does her job and keeps us warm every winter. She is very loved.


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  • Camille
    June 28, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Aw, I’m so touched and happy to show off my raggedy quilt! 🙂

  • Jenn
    June 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I think it’s called windowpane plaid. Beautiful!

  • Kelli
    June 30, 2011 at 12:01 am

    I love your story, Camille. We have many blankets like that from my Great Grandmother and every time we stay with my Grandparents, I love to study all of the old quilts, hoping that some of them will come to me one day. I love to see how my Mamo as we called her bound her very utilitarian quilts and how she used whatever fabrics she had handy but still made them look great.