Grandma Lizzie’s Quilt, Update

I first wrote about this quilt in 2008. At the time it was just a finished pieced top that needed some stabilization work. I talked about how I was going to get it finished. Well, twelve years and one pandemic later, and the quilt is finished. I’ve been working on it for weeks, but I’m strangely sorry to see the work end.

I’ve reposted the original writing from 2008 below, but I have a bit to add to the story. I wondered about all the different pieces in the quilt. At the time she made it, probably the early 1940s judging from the fabrics used, most of her children were grown. And from photos of herI know she didn’t wear colorful dresses.

From recent conversations with niece Amari, I saw the 1940 census entry of my father’s family. I expected that at thirteen, my dad would have been the youngest in the household. But then I saw that two of his sisters who had children of their own, had moved back into the family home. There were five little kids and three young adult daughters, all of whom must have enjoyed having pretty dresses and blouses.

So, here’s the story behind my Grandma Lizzie’s quilt.

I was named for my paternal grandmother, Lizzie Adams, who died about a year before I was born.  She was one of those rare individuals who seemed to be universally loved; I’ve never heard a bad thing associated with her at all.  She had eleven children, all of whom (the nine that had children of their own) named a daughter Elizabeth in her honor.

Growing up I had another grandmother whom I adored, but I always felt somehow that I’d missed out by never knowing Grandma Lizzie.  It was always a treat hearing my dad’s family talk about her.  But my favorite story came from my mother, who only knew her for a few years.  One day, not long before Lizzie died, my parents and older brother were visiting her.  She brought out two quilt tops she had pieced, but had never gotten around to quilting.  She gave them to my mother, saying she made these for Jack’s daughters.  My mother was sort of taken aback, as Jack (her husband, and my father) had no daughters.  But as fate and Lizzie would have it, eventually he did have the two predicted daughters.

My mother gave me my quilt top years ago, and for years it’s been stored away.  A few months ago, I got it out.  There was quite a bit of fraying and raveling where it had been washed, so I decided to secure all the edges, going over the stitches my grandmother made so many years ago.  I’ve felt a closeness to her that really can’t be explained.  I can’t help but wonder about the pieces – if they came from her old aprons, or were scraps from dresses she made for a daughter or granddaughter.

I’ll admit I’ve been envious of those cousins who were older than me and lucky enough to have known her.  But I have the quilt.


Filed under Sewing, Viewpoint

10 responses to “Grandma Lizzie’s Quilt, Update

  1. jacq staubs

    The handwork is amazing. I live with / understand the closeness. o.


  2. So beautiful! And what colorful fabric. Someone really loved flowers.


  3. KeLLy aNN

    What a beautiful story! I was very very close to my Maw Maw {my Dad’s Mom} who was also a quilter and crocheter. I’m not good at sewing, but I have taken over the job of crocheting afghans for all the newer family members. Unfortunately the quilt that my Maw Maw made for me got thrown away and it was too long after that I found out. {it was 1976 and she and her friends quilted this Blue Eagle and Stars onto a white background and red edging from a pattern I picked out} I still have the afghan though; and the Christmas Tree Skirt!


  4. I LOVE this posting. I see Apron material in the middle ‘plate’. Because it has the story it makes it even more amazing. If you have not already, I suggest making a label with information about your Grandmother and dates when she worked on it. Your estimates are correct based on the fabrics. I also have begun getting a picture of the maker put onto fabric and then sewing that onto the back of quilts. If the written story gets misplaced, there will always be a photo image attached to the quilt for future generations. You are so lucky to have it! And, the story is amazing…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Claire Ritterhoff

      Maker’s photo on fabric! What a great idea! Isn’t the ease with which we can do such things these days as print or iron a photo on fabric remarkable?


  5. allisonthrifts

    Your grandmother had an eye for color and composition, for sure. I especially like the last block shown, with brown/red/gray. I second the motion for putting a label on the back.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a treasure! I understand completely how close you must have felt to Grandma Lizzie while you stitched along with her work, and how poignant it must be to have finished. I’m so glad you have the quilt your grandma intended for you. She loved you before anybody even knew you were coming.


  7. What a wonderful story, Lizzie — a quilt to treasure. I echo the recommendation to create a label with the provenance — better yet, the entire story that you’ve recounted. My favorites are the lime green and blue prints.


  8. Eric Smith

    At that era, flour was often sold in sacks that were made of colourful fabrics that could be used for clothing, and the smaller extra pieces for the quilt. It does sound like a household that would have to do a lot of baking.


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