My Grandmother’s Quilts

By Sherry who is frantically trying to break out of book jail

In each of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries, something I own has ended up in the book. I’m finishing the fourth book A Good Day To Buy and in it one of my grandmother’s quilts shows up at an estate sale.

IMG_9014I’m lucky to have five quilts my grandmother made. My sister has another five. Each one was hand stitched long before I was around. I like to picture my grandmother, with friends stitching away, gossiping, and laughing — a reprieve from the long, hard days of being a farmer’s wife in rural Missouri. The picture below is my grandmother (on the right) as a young woman with one of her sisters, Armeda.

IMG_9031For a long time, my favorite quilt was the double wedding ring. It’s been on my bed, hung on the wall (don’t worry my mom made a sleeve for the back to hold the weight), or been folded at the bottom of the bed. And sometimes it’s been relegated to a shelf in the closet.

IMG_9015The detail and the border boggle my mind! All those tiny stitches, so carefully crafted, all those tiny pieces of fabric cut, and positioned.


Then I fell in love with the feed bag quilt. The fabric came from feed bags. If I’m right one side of the bag was burlap and the other cotton. I don’t know the name of the pattern of this quilt, maybe one of you can help me out.

IMG_9018I love all of the different colors and patterns. How artistically my grandmother put them together. Here’s a close up:


And then there’s the name quilt. Each block has someone’s name embroidered in the middle. I love to look at the names and wonder about the women who made them.

IMG_9021I recognize some. My grandmother’s name was Ursula but her nickname was Zula. I have no idea why.

IMG_9023Here’s a square by my Aunt Ginny (my dad’s sister):


And one by my great-aunt Alberta:

IMG_9024Then there’s the two women who used their married names:


And a couple from people I don’t know but their names (Chloe and Rowena) fascinate me:

IMG_9026IMG_9025I wish I’d asked more questions about them when I had the chance. But I treasure each one.

Readers: Do you have a family item that you treasure?

44 Thoughts

  1. I love that you include a treasured family item in each book, Sherry. The amount of work that goes into a quilt is impressive. I love the feed bag, too, but the names are special. Could be clues to an old, cold mystery, maybe?

    1. I didn’t plan to use something in each book, in just happened. And I should have thought about the clues to an old, cold mystery. Hmmmm, my sister has a crazy quilt that all the people in the small town of Novinger, Missouri signed from the late 1800s.

  2. My children and I all have a quilt that my Mother hand stitched for us. No fancy pattern just one she made up using our old clothes.. They are very heavy!

  3. I just want to say your family has such cool names. I love quilts and really wish I could make one, but I am terrible at sewing! It is nice to have things that belong to our grandmothers that we can pass along to the next generation. You are so lucky to have as many as you do.

  4. How lucky you are, Sherry to have such a lovely keepsake from your grandmother! I have a number of items from family members like a rolling pin from one grandmother and a bundt pan from another. I have a clam hod from my great-grandfather and a teapot from a great-grandmother. I feel lucky to have them all.

    1. What the heck is a clam hod? I’m very happy that you have one but… It sounds like you have some wonderful things that you can still use.

  5. What a lovely post, and how lucky you are to have kept it (and treasured it). I have a small embroidery (it was always in my room as a child, as early as I can remember) that I think my great-grandmother made as a child, which would date it around 1875. It’s a small scene (about 4×6 inches) that has to be New England, with a harbor with ships, a small town (complete with a church and tombstones), a horse and carriage, and a little man wearing a hat and operating a a large pump.

  6. Those quilts are beautiful. You are so lucky to have those gifts. My first quilt was hand-stitched and I treasure that one every time I look at it. I can no longer hand-stitch, but any hand-made quilts are precious.

    I have my great-grandmother’s silver spoon that she used to stir her morning tea. It’s a heavy solid one (they don’t make spoons like this anymore) and whenever I use it, I think of her sitting there drinking her tea and eating her Social Tea cookies.

    1. You make amazing quilts, Dru — I thought of you as I wrote this. I don’t know how you find the time with a day job, your fabulous blog, Dru Ann’s Book Musings, and everything else you do! That spoon is a great treasure and I’m glad you still use it!

  7. The quilts are lovely. I have a cable knitted throw I did for my maternal grandmother. I also have a picture of her when she was young. She was born near the end of the 19th century. It’s quite large and circular. She is in a starched white blouse. I admire her for raising 4 kids, 5 years before the Depression. She lost her husband because of a heart ailment that was rare. My mother was 5.

    I have photos of my father when he was young at Salisbury Beach. He was born in the year of the San Francisco quake AND he always said he would go during another earthquake. Oakland California. Very weird! Childhood Christmas ornaments.

    1. Your throw sounds wonderful! And the photo — they don’t make that like that anymore. What an amazing story about your father!

  8. How beautiful! I sew and at one time wanted to make quilts, but I don’t have the patience to do all the piecing–and trust me, piecing is hard! Your cutting has to be perfect and your sewing must be accurate, or you end up cutting off all the little points inside your quilt block (so your squares aren’t perfect squares, but have little triangles cut off at each corner). Sewing other things, and knitting and crocheting, are a bit more forgiving.

    Don’t quote me, but I think the quilt pattern (the feedbag) is called Trip Around the World.

    As for a treasured item, I have my great-grandmother Rachel’s cobalt blue hand-blown fancy dish. Back in that day on the family farm, the kids put out a dish under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and when they woke up, it would be filled with things like oranges and other small stuff. The cobalt blue dish was the one that corresponded with my grandfather, Lloyd. So it is extra special to me.

    1. Trip Around the World — I love that. I love the story of the cobalt glass. I have a small collection but they are all pieces I found.

  9. Your quilts are beautiful, Sherry! I love that you have mentioned your grandmother’s quilt in your upcoming book, connecting her creative pursuit with yours.
    My mom made quilts for me and my sisters when we married and for our children (crib sized quilts – my mom is so creative, but short on time!) I framed my quilt. If we ever had a fire, that’s one thing I’d yank off the wall and carry out with me!

  10. Those quilts are beautiful. How lucky you are to have them. I have tiles painted by my great-grandfather, knitted items from my paternal grandmother, embroidery from my maternal grandmother, and needlepoint from my mother. All are given pride of place in my house.

    My kids will get nothing but scrapbooks and mystery novels.

    1. Scrapbooks and mystery novels are an excellent gift. My mother made me a scrapbook but it disappeared in one of our moves with a few other things. So many pictures of my youth gone.

  11. What treasures! Loved reading about them. I have a tall cut glass pitcher that was from my grandparents. It’s perfect for holding long-stemmed flowers like irises and gladiolus. Whenever I use it I think they are happy it is still being used~

  12. One of my grandmothers would make quilts, but it’s not something that has been big in my family. Still, those are fantastic!

  13. My grandmother did a lot of needle work, and I still have quite a bit of it. Table runners and place mats that she embroidered, a couple of pot holders and some antimacassars she crocheted, and the quilt she made for me when I was born. It’s a Sunbonnet Sue pattern. Very fragile now, and stored in a specially treated box. I remember a double wedding ring quilt that used to cover my parents’ bed, and a huge, and very heavy, popcorn stitch bedspread that she made for them when they got married. Unfortunately, that quilt and the bedspread disappeared when my mother had to go into a nursing home. My grandmother died when I was 5, and I don’t remember her very well, but having these examples of her needlework around my house helps to keep her alive.

    1. I love the Sunbonnet Sue pattern! It sounds like you have a lot of treasures. I have some other things that my grandmother did too — pillowcases, runners, doilies. We are lucky! I’m going to have to Google antimacassars.

  14. Oh Sherry, you are so lucky. My quilt is my baby one that my Godmother made for me in 1935. It’s a crazy quilt and was made out of men’s silk ties from the family. I treasure it., just wish I knew what person in my fathers family gave which tie and my daddy was in the navy but one of the ties is his but I don’t know which one.

    1. What a cool thing to have a crazy quilt out of silk ties from your ancestors, Ruth! How fun to picture someone wearing them. I’d love to see a picture of it!

      1. That is one thing I don’t do my I’ll get my son to help .

  15. Sherry! How beautiful! These women were seriously creative to look at a feed bag or fabric scraps and create something! My boyfriend has one that his grandmother made but his mom won’t let him bring it (to my) home for fear of it being ruined. I think I might just mention this post when we go and visit over Memorial Day weekend. These quilts were meant to be loved and used not locked away in a closet!

  16. I enjoyed your post! My Mom has a quilt that her mother made!

    On Mon, May 16, 2016 at 1:17 AM, Wicked Cozy Authors wrote:

    > Sherry Harris posted: “By Sherry who is frantically trying to break out of > book jail In each of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries, something I > own has ended up in the book. I’m finishing the fourth book A Good Day To > Buy and in it one of my grandmother’s quilts shows u” >

  17. So pretty! I really love the idea of the name quilt–what a terrific legacy. Telling their stories could be a wonderful book.

    I don’t have the patience for quilting, but maybe machine quilting?

  18. Beautiful quilts! Just gorgeous!

    I have my beaded baby bracelet from Salem Hospital in Massachusetts. A tiny medal of Mary is attached. All very lovely and sweet but mysteriously my last name is spelled out on blue beads. My mother said they ran out of pink (like all my girl cousins had), but I don’t believe her.

  19. Such a lovely inheritance…the name of the quilt pattern with the small squares arranged in diagonal “rings” is Trip Around the World, and the named squares quilt is an autograph quilt. Typically a group of women would make “x” number of squares – all the same, and with her name embroidered or written in ink – in sufficient numbers to make a whole quilt. Then they’s get together and have a giant swap so each woman had one square from all the others…then they’d assemble them and finish. Each participant would have a permanent memento of the larger group. Sometimes, too, a women’s club or church group would create a single autograph quilt to use as a raffle prize or fund raiser for a purpose. Love you quilts :-)!

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