Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Great Grandmother's Quilt

While I was over my parent's house for the Super Bowl, my mom pulled out my Great Grandmother's cathedral window quilt.  I had seen this quilt before, but it had been a while, so I spent some time (okay, a lot of time) studying the quilt.

She made this quit entirely by hand, and, according to my mom, it took her ten years to complete.

It was so much fun to look at the different fabrics used in each window. I was pleasantly surprised that the only sign of age was that some of the windows became un-sewn.  I haven't seen any holes or signs of the fabric coming apart.

My mom said that some of the fabrics were from dresses that another one of my great grandmothers wore.

I love how you can see how the pattern got it's name when you shine light through the back of the quilt.

There are some areas that need some repair.  I'd like to fix a few of the windows that have come undone, but I'm not sure the best way to go about doing it on an older quilt.  I'm not sure if there are protocols I should follow, special materials I should use, etc. I've made cathedral window blocks before, so I know the technique, I'm just not sure if I would impact the integrity of the quilt.

Also, when I mom received the quilt from my great aunt, it was folded and there are some creases in the quilt after being folded for so long.  Anyone know if I should iron the quilt, steam it or refold it using acid-free tissue paper?  Also, the quilt has no label, so I was thinking about adding one, again, as long as it didn't impact the integrity of the quilt. I'd like to document that my great grandmother made this beautiful quilt so that the story of the quilt doesn't get lost.

Any advice anyone has would be appreciated.


  1. Oh, wow! A friend of mine showed me one her grandmother made, also, and she inherited it - how wonderful for you both! I can't help with your queries, but would love if you would pass on any info you receive.

  2. To keep the integrity of the quilt historically, you must use only materials of the period. Thread, fabric, wadding. All must be of the same era. Label is pretty out of the question unless you go back to using thread, fabric, from the period the quilt was made in. I have a quilting friend who mentioned I should go to her for period thread and fabrics. I can inquire for you. I personally would steam the quilt and then do the acid free tissue paper care of it.

  3. Also, if you could care less about the historial integrity. Go ahead and do whatever, family heirlooms are still just family heirlooms. I would keep a record of any and all changes.

  4. Wow, amazing quilt and a treasure!
    It would be fun for you working on it. Good luck!