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Something Old is New Again

A story of a quilt that took generations to complete

In January of 2014, my birth mother passed away and I ended up inheriting a couple of boxes of her fabrics. The majority of the fabrics were leftovers from the many clothing projects she had sewn in the past. Many were polyester blends, which I donated to a local charity, but there were quite a few usable cotton pieces as well. I kept those and put them aside in a plastic bin for use in future scrap quilts.

At the bottom of the second box I found a plastic bag full of old quilt blocks. I was intrigued and wanted to know the history behind these mystery blocks as I knew my mother was not a quilt maker.

The story that emerged after asking a few family members was that these blocks were originally made in the 1930’s by my grandmother using the fabric from flour sacks.

For people who may not know: In the 1930's, during the great depression, flour sacks were made using pretty patterned fabrics. Flour companies did this after they discovered women were using the flour sacks to sew clothes, cloth diapers, etc. because times were difficult and money was tight.

No one remembers my grandmother turning the blocks into a quilt but they do remember my mother inheriting them after grandmother passed away.

"I thought to myself "this has to be the ultimate UFO!"

A UFO, in sewing terms, is an unfinished object (project) and this one had to take the cake.

The bag contained twenty-one finished blocks and another half dozen or so in different stages of completion. I decided it was definitely time for these blocks to become a quilt, or two or three!

I took eight of the blocks and graphed out a plan

Here are the eight blocks I chose along with the matching scrap fabrics

I wanted the quilt to have a vintage feel, so I headed to my own stash of fabrics and pulled out everything that had an old look to it. I think I succeeded in finding just the right fabrics to blend with the original blocks.

After picking out the fabrics I wanted to use, I placed all the blocks on point and added sashing to separate them.

Next, keeping with a simple 2.5” block pattern, I created the setting triangles on the sides and bottom.

After that, I added a border around the whole outside. Then, I needed to fill in the corners to make it square, so I added more 2.5” blocks and a border.

Finally, to get the size I wanted (twin) I added two outside borders.

Now it was time to quilt it

At that point in time I was only doing hand guided free-motion quilting. So, I opted to do a double paisley pattern over the entire quilt.

I never had the opportunity to meet my grandmother (due to being placed for adoption at birth) and I really wanted the quilt to go to someone who had had a relationship with her and who would appreciate its history.

Once the quilt was completed I decided to gift it to my oldest half-brother. I booked a flight to Calgary so I could deliver it to him in person.

Needless to say he was thrilled with the quilt and the history of its creation. I’m pretty sure I saw a tear or two although he will never admit it!

I named the quilt "Rebirth" because it was born and then put away, only to be reborn again many decades later.


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