My maternal grandmother made quilts. She did all the piecing and some designing and also embroidery on the finished top part and then sent them to be quilted by a church group. That always seemed so magical to me. I would see the snippets of materials around her chair and then connected together. The project would grow from the size of a cookie sheet to six cookie sheets and then bigger. Once all the machine sewing was done, she would then begin on the decorative work. Once that was all complete, she would send it away and it would come back a usable quilt. Quite magic.
The quilts remind me of my grandmother and her very gnarled hands. Because of her hands were so knotted, when she wrote she would put the pencil between her pointer and middle finger. Her cursive was quite elegant and as I child I figured it was because she held her pencil in such a fancy way. Her casket was open at her funeral and her hands curved in C shapes as they normally were when she was at rest. I remember thinking how lovely it would be to tuck purple violets into her hands. Her yard was always full of purple violets.
She was a ‘waste not, want not’ type of lady. Some might suggest a tad of hoarding. She had bags of plastic Legg eggs in her storage area. She had saved beer cans (my uncle helped with that as she was not a drinker) and she crocheted beer can hats for all the men in our family. (Go ahead Google it, I can wait). She saved Pringle cans and So. Much. Fabric. She has been gone over twenty five years and I am still using the muslin I inherited from her.
Her quilts displayed that mindset of saving and using for something else. At least once, maybe twice a year, we would be at her house and she would tell my mom that we needed to “do the quilts”. My mother would go upstairs (after being reminded to turn on the light by her mother; that too seemed to be a pass down generation thing) and bring down the ones she kept. Mostly she gave the quilts away or made them for a specific person in mind. However, about ten of them were her special quilts that she kept. I was allowed to pick on for my sixteenth birthday. They would come out of storage and be opened up. We would look them over, point out different materials that had been used prior in dresses or tops, as curtains or the numerous toddler bubble suits (Simplicity pattern # 8811, 1970) I wore in my youth. They would be opened out fully and then refolded, but never on the same lines as the prior folding to help keep them fresh and longer lasting.
I do the same with mine from time to time, though mine show much more wear, use and love.