My nearly 90-year-old great-aunt Janet was a wonderful quilter in her day. She pulled discarded quilt-tops out of burn bins around the countryside and finished them. She did most of her quilting by hand. I have a quilt she worked on, with her sister Betty, my grandmother. The gorgeous hand-sewn stitches go on and on.
During a recent visit to her amazing, sprawling old house at Pond Hole, in the Poconos, I received a lovely gift from her and her daughter Janney. They let me look through Aunt Janet’s fabric stash and choose some things I might have a use for. Aunt Janet said, with a mischievous smile, “I’m just not interested in quilting any more. Don’t know why.”
So these are some of the beautiful, vintage treasures I came away with. As I washed them and ironed them and touched each one, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of these little pieces, many bearing names of fabric companies that no longer exist, ABC Fabrics, John Ward Fabrics, anyone? Many pieces seemed to have been cut not for quilting, but for clothes. What were they made into? Did my father or his cousin Janney wear these patterns when they were little?
Here are a few of the pieces I love best. My favorites must have been my Aunt Janet’s favorites, too, since there’s not much left of those. Sometimes she saved just enough for one small square, as if even that tiny bit was too precious to throw away.
I don’t know what all these little pieces will become, but I feel so honored that they were given to me, pieces of my family’s past that could become a beautiful quilt in my family’s future. Thanks, Aunt Janet, for passing on your fabric and so much more.