Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Family Quilt


I didn’t even know it existed…

I’ve always heard people referring to their “family quilt”, one made by a great-grandmother, or great-great auntie…I didn’t think we had one in our family…

Well, we actually do.  My great-great grandmother Augusta made a beautiful crazy quilt around the turn of the century, but it’s in a small museum in northern Arizona…beautiful, but untouchable…


My mother proudly took me into her large closet this last week to show me some shelves that my father had built, and I saw it…


“What’s that?”, I asked…

“Sarah’s quilt”, she said, almost casually…..

“Sarah, as in great-great-grandma Sarah?!”


And so it was.  I never knew we had it…shows what happens when you never ask!

Imagine my joy when my mother gave it to me while I was there…what a wonderful gift!

It’s not fancy.  It’s not perfect…but it was made with her beautiful, aged hands…


The hands of a woman born on a Virginia plantation during the Civil War…hands that helped her husband carve out an existence in rough and tumble Arizona in the late 1800s…


…the hands of a skilled midwife who delivered 1,600 babies during her lifetime…and “never lost a mother or a baby”, as she herself recalled…


It’s a quilt made with those hands…and I love it.

My guess, due to the fabric patterns, is that it was made in the 193os.  Sarah passed away in 1940.


My plan was to have my husband make a beautiful rod to hang it on—a lovely place on a large, blank wall already chosen in my mind…

DSC09328_edited-1 {I love the traditional, old “pinwheel” pattern that Sarah chose for her quilt so long ago…}

The morning before we left, I was organizing our things…getting ready to pack up the car.

The quilt, which had been in our room, carefully folded, was nowhere to be seen—I was in a bit of a panic!


I found it…not too much later.  My oldest daughter—the new college graduate for whom we had all gathered to celebrate—had sleepily looked for the comfort of a warm blanket late the night before, when the rest of the house was sound asleep…

…and she found one.


I found my great-great-grandmother’s quilt, still rumpled by the pillow where my daughter had slept--and I realized something…

That’s just precisely what Sarah would have wanted.

DSC09334_edited-1 {a new page made this week for my family stories album}

She didn’t spend hours and months on her quilt for it to be hung on a wall…not to  be touched.  She meant for it to be wrapped around the ones she loved…to comfort and warm a sleeping child…

I think Sarah would be very pleased...


 DSC09308_edited-1 {my youngest daughter, Annie, willingly snuggled with her great-great-great grandmother’s quilt for a photo}

{lovely vintage label & scalloped journaling paper from Crafty Secrets’ “Creating with Vintage Illustrations” CD, vintage thimble ad also from Crafty Secrets}



  1. I'm sorry but I'm jealous. What a wonderful story. What a wonderful quilt. May your family enjoy it until the very last thread is bare. xx

  2. Oh Julie, your posts always bring tears to my eyes, but they are happy ones... how wonderful to have your great~great grandma Sarah's quilt!... and I just know she is thrilled that your daughter is snuggling up in it... as it is so full of love and precious memories... and what a sweet surprise from your mama... thanks for sharing... xoxo Julie Marie PS I also inherited a family quilt and guess what?... it was made by MY great~grandmother in the late 1800's... and her name... Sarah!... I love that you cherish these things as much as I do... wish we lived closer to each other!

  3. How precious Julie to have found your great~great grandma Sarah's quilt. I don't think we have one in our family, but I'm going to start asking the question just in case!
    I think it's wonderful that the quilt is now snuggling your family as I'm sure Sarah would have wanted.
    I completed a cross-stitch 'Home Sweet Home' whilst waiting for my daughter to bake (during my pregnancy) but it's still folded up, so maybe I should frame it just in case my future great great grandchildren would appreciate it. Who knows?
    Thanks again for sharing such a lovely piece of your family history ;D

  4. This one brought a tear to my eyes.Beautiful quilt and beautiful story.

  5. What a lovely quilt! It has so much history and I know how you love that! Your daughter is a beauty and looks so happy snuggled up there!


  6. Your family has the most amazing treasures. I am so thankful that you share them with us....enjoy this for years to come...smiles..Renee

  7. Julie,

    What a beautiful story. And I think your'e right that Sarah would have wanted her Grandchild wrapped in it's warmth. Memories of loved ones are sooooooooooooo special & you have such great stories. HUGS!

  8. I love Sarahs quilt and I feel the same that quilts should be hugged and wrapped and snuggled.

  9. This is such a beautiful story! I think you are right, Sarah made it to comfort not to be hang on the wall.
    It is such a beautiful quilt! I love the card you made.

  10. First of all, how VERY COOL that a quilt made by a FAMILY MEMBER, is in a MUSEUM?????? HOW FABULOUS IS THAT! And then, to have your mom take you to a closet to yet pull out another family treasure?????? When I was a small child, I used to love opening my mother's cedar linen closet. There I would find the same heirlooms and as if I had never seen them before or heard their story, each and every time was an adventure. The best part however was when my mum would tell me who made it, where (in our case, Mexico) and how SHE obtained the item. Lovely my dear, JUST LOVELY!!!

    Thank you Julie for your kind words and visit. You are a gem. Anita

  11. It looks like the quilt has been well cared for through the years. I think Sarah would be happy to see it being used by her precious family.
    again, another wonderful page for your memory book!!
    happy Sunday Julie

  12. Beautiful quilt....beautiful story. You have such an amazing family history. Love hearing your stories.

  13. Oh Julie what a beautiful old quilt to find and no one better could have taken it home. Someday it will go to one of your girls.

  14. Julie I just love your family stories the history is amazing and the quilt is just divine.

  15. Hi Julie, I'm so glad you discovered my blog, as that led me to yours. What a delightful story about the quilt, a rare treasure. I have a family quilt story that is very dear to me, so can appreciate how happy you were to find this. Your scrapbook page with your great-great grandmother is fabulous. ~ Abby

  16. Hi Julie, how wonderful that you have this quilt now. It is absolutely perfect because it was handmade by your great-great-grandmother. Can you imagine how many families in this day and age don't have these sorts of things to cherish? What will they have one day down the road? A thumbdrive with digital images? I would so much rather have something tangible. Something to hold, to wrap oneself in. Your heritage album must just be overflowing now with so many lovely stories.

    Good luck with the kittens. They are so lucky that their mom left them for you and the girls to raise. My outside kitty was scared away by the recent Persian kitty who came along and hasn't come back even though the other kitty has been gone for nearly a week now. :(

    Have a great week. We are in the midst of a dust and rain storm. I'm thinking the dust will win out though. Best wishes, Tammy

  17. Hi Julie!! Your family quilt is so beautiful, and such a beautiful story!! What a treasure to have and cherish! Thank you for sharing!! A great way to start my Monday!! So glad to be your newest follower!! xo Heather

  18. Hi Julie--what a lovely story, I love how you said she wouldn't want the quilt to be hung, how she'd prefer it to comfort a child...
    The quilt is lovely and your family page is beautiful! Have a great week!
    ~Lorraine ♥♥♥

  19. Hi Julie..thank you for your visit today. I had to stop by to say hello...your blog is delicious!! Oh my goodness that quilt is amazing. Can you imagine if those stitches could tell their story? What a beautiful treasure.
    Enjoy your week!! xo Tami

  20. What a wonder heirloom that you have to pass down to your daughters. I know you will treasure it.
    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today. I'm so glad you did, because now I found yours!

  21. What a wonder heirloom that you have to pass down to your daughters. I know you will treasure it.
    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today. I'm so glad you did, because now I found yours!

  22. Oh my this is wonderful! I wish I had a few of my grandmothers quilts. What joy it will bring you.
    Thank you for the list of must dos in San Francisco...I have written them all down. We are really excited about our trip. You really do live in such a beautiful area. xoxoxoxo

  23. Julie,
    That is just lovely. I am so glad you have your family quilt and that it is being used to cuddle your girls!
    Big hugs,

  24. Julie, I actually got all teary-eyed reading about your heirloom quilt. How fortunate you are! Love that your daughter wrapped herself up in it. Lovely message.
    Thanks for your visit, dear friend.
    Ladybug Creek

  25. What a wonderful gift that your mom shared with you and so glad it kept your daughter warm. My mom hand quilts each of her quilts and we have been blessed to be under them each night. Mine being the oldest, almost 16 years, is getting a little threadbare but I can't even think about not snuggling up underneath it each night.

    Wishing you a wonderful week.

  26. Buena suerte con los gatitos. Son la misma suerte que su madre los dejó para usted y las niñas a aumentar. Mi gatito fuera se asustan por la reciente gatito persa que llegó y no ha regresado a pesar de que el gatito otra se ha ido hace casi una semana. : (

  27. Oh wow, what a treasure. And it seems like it is in such GREAT condition. Some loving hands certainly took care of her quilt over the years.
    And it kinda brought a tear to my eye to think that , yes, she would be happy to know it is surrounding her loved ones with warmth and comfort.