The Oldest Quilt in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival

I’m excited to share with you today the details behind my grandmother’s fan quilt.  Appropriately named, as you’ll see in a minute.  This is  my entry into the Blogger’s Quilt Festival, at Amy’s Creative Side.

When my parents moved out of the house where I had grown up, they (rather ruthlessly) got rid of a lot of stuff they didn’t need.  Of course, my sister and I had the opportunity to claim things first.  My sister was dating the man she would eventually marry, and I was just finishing university, so these things were definitely needed for the homes we would soon own.  When we got to the linen chest, there were some beautiful embroidered tablecloths and crocheted doilies, and also a quilt top with lemon yellow sashing, which had come from my grandmother when she had died in 1969.

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Although I didn’t quilt at the time, I did sew (my sister barely can hem and sew on a button), so I took the quilt top with the idea of finishing it one day.  I later took a beginner’s sampler course, and the instructor was intrigued by the printing still showing on the back of the white squares, and explained to me that this was called a “sugar-sack” quilt.  Soon after this, I visited my (half-)aunt in British Columbia.  When I told her about the quilt top she said, “Your grandmother Jean didn’t quilt, but my mother did.”  And since my grandfather’s first wife, Edna, had died in 1935, all the pieces fell into place.

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I thought it important to finish–and use–the quilt, but was stymied by the size, a double.  Not so practical these days.  But when I was expecting my first child, I realized that the colours worked very well as a baby quilt.  So I bravely disassembled the top, repaired existing stitching as required, and set to work.

I love it, and 0518 IMGP2110my daughter loves it.  And I still have enough of the original quilt top to do this twice more.

The details:

Original feedsack fabric in the grandmother’s fan pattern, pieced by machine and hand appliqued onto floursack muslin by my grandfather’s first wife.  Borders and backing are calicoes from the local fabric shop added by me.

Machine- and hand-quilted by me.  Stitch in the ditch on the fans, cross hatching on the background, hand-stitched feathers in the sashing, FMQ stipple in the border.

Size 62″ x 44″

Baby quilt category

Thanks for stopping by, and please come again.  Remember that you can go back to Amy’s Creative Side to nominate your favourite quilt, plus the voting will be open in each category from May 24-31, 2013.


  1. What a great story! And a beautiful piece.

  2. Kim Cassie · ·

    What a beautiful memory and heirloom for you and your family. I have a quilt top that my grandmother made, but I am scared to touch it yet. I need to improve my quilting skills before I am brave enough to finish it for her.

    1. I’m not a very experienced quilter, but since this had sat in a chest for almost 75 years, I felt it was time it was loved.

  3. WOW! You are amazing! I have started quilts for my kids and just can’t get around to finishing them… for some reason making clothing is just more exciting! I’ve got to get back on track. Thanks for sharing!

    1. *blush* I’ll remember that next time I’m buying clothes for my daughter at the big W. I love the creativity of quilting, but I agree it can take a lot of time to get to the end product.

  4. What a wonderful story! You did a beautiful job with the quilt!

  5. Oh My God! That is amazing. I love when we get to see the original 1930s fabrics… such a cool story!!!

    1. I love seeing the reproductions of fabrics which I recognize from this quilt. It is blissfully scrappy, all colours and patterns working together.

  6. Wow! It’s lovely that it was kept that long and finally found its purpose. You put it together beautifully and i love your quilting. I can’t believe you’ve enough for two more! That’s fantastic 🙂

  7. Your quilt is beautiful and even more amazing to know the history. What could be better than to have made a quilt, for it to go through hands within a family and be loved so many years later.

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