Fitting Together the Pieces

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal 26 Comments


Quilts connect the past with the present and the future.

Since I let Wednesday slip by without thinking about it being Wednesday, I came up a post short on One Writer’s Journal this week. That happens sometimes when I’m trying to dig a new story out of my head and working toward a deadline. So I went into my blog archives and pulled out this post from 2012 about the quilt on the bed I slept in back when I was staying so many night at my mother’s house while she was ill. I didn’t actually sleep under this quilt. I very carefully folded it down to lay it aside.

This quilt that’s well over 100 years old is now in my sister’s care. We all consider it a family treasure. It was a gift to my great aunt for her wedding. Her sisters and friends had a quilting shower for her. They each embroidered their names on a piece of fabric and then all gathered to sew the pieces together with more fancy stitches. Here’s my grandmother’s name, Alva Bond. I don’t remember her since she died when I was two, but I can imagine her quilting her name here before she married – while  she was young and anxious to fall in love and have her own family. Some of the other names are Ethie, Em, Hervie, Virgie. Old fashioned names. But young names at the time. Names of girls full of hope and laughter. You know they laughed as they worked to fit these crazy pieces together like a puzzle.

When I look at the quilt, I see a unique piece of family history, an evidence of caring and fun. A very real piece of art. Everyday art for them at the time. But amazing art for me as I think about how they were able to fit all those odd sized pieces together and come up with a quilt that doesn’t have odd corners.

I’ve always liked the crazy quilt patterns better than even the fanciest wedding ring patterns or basket patterns or whatever bit of amazing artistic design. The crazy quilt patterns speak to me.

“Our lives are like quilts – bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love.”

I guess that’s why I like the crazy quilt pattern. It’s like life. Bits and pieces in all shapes and sizes, but when stitched together, it makes the whole fabric of our lives. Writing is that way too. A book is pieced together with bits of stories from a lot of different characters. Sometimes you can’t see how you’ll ever fit the pieces together and maybe sometimes you’ll have to throw aside a piece to use another time. But you have to get the important pieces – the ones with names on them – into the whole of the story. And the process can be crazy, but turn out beautiful sometimes in the end.

Hope you enjoyed this rerun post. I always appreciate you reading my journal.

Have you ever pieced together a quilt?

Comments 26

  1. Karen Jones

    I definitely enjoyed the repost since I came on board after you posted the first time. I have never pieced or made a quilt, but I have a 92 year old friend that still does. I have several of her pieces that she has done. My most recent, a Christmas quilt and pillow shams made for this past Christmas. I admire those who can do this intricate work.
    That is a beautiful quilt lt along wth a wonderful story to go with it. 😊

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Glad you enjoyed the slightly reworked repost, Karen. I had an older church friend who was a magician with her needle and made all kinds of beautiful things including dolls. She passed away last year at age 99 and I still miss her, but I do have a few of her dolls. You’re lucky to have a friend to share her lovely things with you.

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  2. peggy clayton

    I have never pieced together a quilt but my daughter was given one from her god mother who was my best friend in high school. It has a Winnie the Pooh and is quilted so beautiful. I was thrilled when she gave it to my daughter . When my daughter saw it I thought she would be thrilled also but she doesn;t get excited over things like that and still doesn;t at 39. I luckily have it still in a plastic bag and stored in our hall closet with her baby sheets and one of her fav blankets.
    I love this repeated piece Ann of the quilt just as much as when I read it the first time. At that time when girls were young simple things given were taken and loved now if it doesn;t cost alot of money most kids throw the gift away. I had something like that happen with my daughter and her birthday she lives in Ca and I in Ia and she loves to disagree with me and tell me the way it is . Wow she was one of the ones that wanted everything at a young age and of course me being the mom i am gave it to her my fault. She would of never been able to cope many many years ago when they made the beautiful quilt in your family.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Everybody is different, aren’t they, Peggy? I have some things I think are extra special that I know my kids will wonder why in the world I kept them when they have to go through my things. We said that some about my mother’s things, but my sisters and I are sentimental about family things so we didn’t say it about much. We just packed up everything and divided it into three piles and took it all home with us. But that quilt with Winnie the Pooh on it sounds really cute. Maybe someday you can pass it down to another little girl who loves Winne the Pooh. Or maybe you’ll just keep it and love it yourself.

    2. Ola Norman

      I hope you take it out of the plastic bag and put it in an old pillowcase. Plastic causes dry rot in fabric and you don’t want that.

      1. Phyllis Miller

        This is good news since I have an old quilt in a plastic bag, will transfer it to something else, I am afraid a pillow case would not be big enough, any suggestions? Thanks, Phyllis

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          Ann H Gabhart

          I don’t, Phyllis, but maybe another reader might. I’d just think you could perhaps wrap it in an old sheet. That seems the same as a pillowcase.

  3. Donna Harmon

    I love quilts…looking at them, staying warm with them, sharing them, piecing them, quilting them, planning them, binding them, even on occasion smelling them. And like you, crazy quilts are my favorites!

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Crazy quilts are just so crazy, Donna. I liked them best from the first time I saw one when I was a kid. I used to imagine trying to make a quilt like that, but then I decided to piece together stories. Sounds as if you’re a big quilt maker.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Thanks, Pat. It’s fun you shared the story about my old quilt with your granddaughter. Handmade family quilts do warm our memories.

  4. Phyllis Miller

    Ann, I loved reading this post, and the crazy quilt is so pretty. I have an old quilt that belonged to my mother and I think it came from her mother, my grandmother Ona Bell, it is tattered and torn and I have it stored in a plastic bag. I wish I knew someone who could repair it for me, I just do not have that talent.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      I’ve heard that some people can do that, Phyllis, but I don’t know who. You might check with a quilting guild. I went to a quilt show once and was amazed at the talent of those artists with needles. I have several tattered quilts too, but others I never used so they stay nice but I guess they were made to use.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      I’ve always thought they might take a different kind of piecing skill, Evelyn. I’m guess the old time folks make them simply to use up every scrap of material they had instead of cutting out pretty shapes and patterns. I bet you’ve made some lovely quilts too. What’s your favorite?

  5. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

    So enjoyed this post! Thank you. I have a quilt that took me a year and a half to finish ~ only on Tuesdays ~ as we were remodeling our home and I quilted at church with ladies from several communities who had been meeting for several years together. I call my quilt, “Sleeping Under the Stars.” Ladies gave me their scraps for some of my stars and it was wonderful to see them exclaim, “There’s my piece!” Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

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      Ann H Gabhart

      What fun, Kathleen. I always liked it when I was kid and my aunt made quilts to recognize bits of my dresses among the pieces. She was a talented seamstress and made all our dresses so had the scrap material left. You should have shared a picture of your quilt. It sounds really pretty.

  6. Ann Bond Chilton

    I enjoyed this since I had not read it before. I wondered if Em was Miss Em as we called her but she was married. I wonder if the name Mertie is on the quilt. That’s my grandmother. She had quilting parties and Miss Em and some other women gathered around a quilt frame and worked and visited. Sometimes they would let me sew a few stitches.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      I’m guessing the Em was our Aunt Emma, Ann, who lived in a house here on our road. But it’s been a while since I’ve read the names on the quilt so I’m not sure. I’ll have to check out the quilt next time I’m at Jane’s and look for Mertie. I sewed a few stitches on my aunt Bond’s quilts but I figured she might have picked them out and done them over after I went home. 🙂

  7. Paula

    I love quilts. I’ve been looking for just the right one in just the right colors. I guess I’m gonna have to break down and make my own. I’ve never done a real one but have lots of friends who are quilters! I once stitched scraps together by machine to make a new top to an old quilt for my boys when they were little and it was cold– in North Dakota!
    I did take an old Victorian crazy quilt and remake it into pillows. That was when my mother had her antique shop about 40 years ago. It was fun to restitch the embroidered edges of the pieces.
    I’m glad you have your keepsake quilt to enjoy from time to time.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Sounds like you have a project on your hands, Paula. I made a lap blanket out of polyester pieces once years ago and tie tacked it, but it wasn’t really quilted. I do treasure those quilts that my aunt made and that I now have. She made one for me when I was born with the years of my birth embroidered in one of the corners.

  8. Melissa

    I love quilts. I always think of the memories made while the quilt was being created. What was going on in the quilter’s life? My aunts made beautiful quilts.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      You know that the women did have a good time when they got together for quilting bees, Melissa. But my aunt made most of her quilts by herself. She would cut out all the pieces and hand sew them into whatever pattern she chose and then set up her quilting frames to do the quilting during the wintertime. My sister made some memory quilts for her grandkids out of all their team t-shirts they had while they were growing up. Fun idea.

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