Saturday, April 28, 2012

Grandma's quilt

I received a treasure today.  This is Grandma Pendarvis's quilt. 

About 20 years ago, my MIL gave me the quilt top. She told me that she had found it when she and her sisters were cleaning out their mother's house after she died. MIL said she knew that I, of all the DILs, would appreciate the quilt and would know how to finish it.  Well, truth be told, I didn't appreciate it.  It was nice and all, but I thought the colors were garish and would never fit in my so-called decor.  Besides, there were a few stains on it--Yuck!

Ten years later I began quilting and with experience and knowledge, my appreciation of antique quilts grew. I took out the old top occasionally and each time, I liked it more. I decided that this top needed professional quilting--my skills weren't good enough. I finally had the extra cash and I took it to Lynette Gelling of Pine Cone Quilting in nearby Clayton, WI in early March.  She called me today to say it was finished and I brought it home.

She and I realized that the top is all hand pieced and hand appliqued. Such incredibly tiny stitches!  Lynette pointed out that the green stems were silk and that the yellow flower centers weren't a 30's print as I thought, but earlier than that.  I'll try to get the fabric dated.  With that information, I decided that my MIL was wrong when she told me her mother had made it.  I think it was her Grandmother who made it.  She's the one who would more likely have done it by hand instead of machine. She's the one who more likely had silk fabric available to her.  So, I've made the executive decision that this is my husband's great grandmother's quilt, and I'll stand by that unless someone tells me differently. :)

Here's a somewhat glaring look at the quilting Lynette did on the blocks--outline quilting of the applique and below, is a look at the setting triangles and outer border.  She did feather wreaths in each of the plain alternating blocks and you can see that a bit in the first picture. I think it's wonderfully beautiful! And I think Lynette is a truly gifted artist with her long arm.

And those few spots by the flowers!  Nothing but character, in my mind.  I imagine Grandma had a bit of oil on her fingers from polishing the furniture or from the cooking she did for the boarders in her house, and she left some of it in the fabric as she picked up her needle to work on the project in the evenings when the work was finished. Those "garish" colors?  They look beautiful to me now and will fit in quite well with the "decor" I have. I have the perfect empty wall where I'll hang this quilt--everyone will see it as they come through the front door.  I can't wait to put it on display but first I have to stitch the muslin binding and find a quilt rack for the wall that's big enough for it.

Grandma Pendarvis, Grandma Gray, and MIL have all gone on to their just reward, but this quilt will live on as a tribute to the women in my husband's family. Thank you, Leona, for giving this quilt to me 20 years ago.


  1. I just love your love story. Aren't you glad you didn't give that lovely keepsake away before you knew better. cw