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.