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September: warm days, cool evenings – vintage quilts

Welcome back diners! Autumn seems to be as uncharacteristically early and cool as our summer was warm and dry.   When I thought of the Septembers title, I really didn’t think the evenings would be quite this cool!    As we consider adding more warmth to our beds to stave off the cooler nights, I thought it would be a great time to re-visit vintage linens,  in this case, vintage quilts.

One of my grand-mothers quilts, her own design, using a variety of vintage linens: doilies, towels, and hankies. She added much of the embroidery as well. A spiders-web was her “signature,” and most of her quilts have a spiders-web somewhere. You might recognize this one from the Shabby room (May 2021).

Many of these hand-made quilts were a labor of love. My grandmother was always surrounded by her quilt makings. The only time she was not quilting is when a baby was on the way, then she knitted a sweater, in mint green – “because all babies look good in mint green”! I am fortunate enough to have several of her quilts, many of her own design.

Quilting was a very important past-time many years ago. The need for both warmth, and to use all available resources, was so important. These quilt patterns also capitalized on using small bits of fabric remnants. From this necessity arose the artistic nature of many quilts. Some of the older quilt patterns include “Garden Path” (featured in pink) and “Cathedral Window” in blue. Both of these quilts were gifts from my grandmother, and both handmade.

The quilts are displayed on my great-grandmothers head- and foot-board.

I found this wonderful antique curio-cabinet not long ago, and told myself that I could not buy it unless I already had something to put in it (a necessity to not begin an entirely new collection). It quickly dawned on me (WHEW!!) that it would be ideal to keep my vintage quilt collection to ensure they did not get dusty. Some great, quick thinking on my part! Treasure secured.

I”m trying hard to not accidentally find something to put on top, however, suggestions are welcomed!

A closer look inside reveals the artistic expression of these quilts that arose from necessity of warmth.

Unpacking the chest, and starting from the top, a series of nursery blankets…

And, a doll blanket. One of my mothers earliest Christmas gifts. It was a favorite of mine as well.

Embroidered animals. I love the elephant and camel, all dressed up.

My grandmother loved being creative with her quilting, this one is her own design.

Those cherubic faces!! A example of an applique nursery quilt.

The Garden Path, a series of colorful, concentric circles made from small hexagon pieces. A gift to my grandmother c. early 1940s for her 18th birthday.

This next quilt is quite fragile, and was a wedding gift (c. pre-WWI) to my husbands grandmother, Olga a Finnish immigrant. By its condition, it was well loved. This particular quilt is made of several panels, each one with a unique scene and “signed” by the artist. What a wonderful gift from the community that most likely had little to spare. Yet, they came together to create a work of art, which is what many of these heirloom pieces are: true beautifully crafted works of art.

Its only recently that modern-manufacturing has produced color and patterns in our bed linens. For many years only flat, white sheets were available, and as “washing” resources were scarce, most top-sheets became the bottom sheet in order to minimize resource output. Women would embroider these charming scenes in order to give the plain white sheets some character.

Embroidered by my grand-mother as a shower gift to her soon to be sister-in-law.

Finally, from the August picnic, denim and velvet in the Star pattern, also from my grandmother.

Thanks for joining me today to take a look at these beautiful vintage bed-linens. Hope to see back in October when we’ll tackle the colder mornings of autumn. Please feel free to share with others and comment! I’d love to hear stories from readers about their vintage quilts. Until then, enjoy something beautiful! ~d

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