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Grandma’s Quilts

This is the quilt that was on my bed. It probably played a large part in my interest of quilting. It was my REAL LIFE!

by Estella Naomi Parkins Snyder

When I was a teen Grandma Snyder’s Flower Garden graced my bed.  I had a double bed frame painted white, with turned spindles on the posts – giving it that comfortably antique look which perfectly complemented the flower garden  quilt.  I can picture it now in my bright room.

Sorting through my Mama’s old quilt blocks brings a lot of memories and many questions that will remain unanswered now.  I wish I could ask more.  I wish I could remember all the stories she told me.  Do you have quilts from your family heritage?  I hope so.  As quilters you are undoubtedly the ones who will prize them the most.  Lately, when distant family members and cousins come by and stop to spend the night I unpack those precious quilts.  If they are sturdy enough I spread them on the cousins’ beds hoping to evoke visual memories that they may treasure, or at least remember after leaving my home.

The Redd Quilt

I call this the Redd Quilt! This is one I place on the beds of family visitors to help them remember the names!

When Mom  came to live with me in her final years we worked on this Double Wedding Ring quilt together.  We had the idea of embroidering the names of her family and their spouses in the centers.  She came from a family of 14 children so there were a lot of names!  Even so we stopped with not enough.  We have 10 more centers unfilled for the direct line.  So I’m trying to decide what other names to use.  Maybe Mom’s 10+ aunts and uncles.

Here are the family quilts, the women, and their stories that have inspired me in my quilting journey. 

Green Double Wedding Ring

Mama eloped.   She was going on a road trip with her sisters and then up to her hometown in Canada to visit family.  Sterling was afraid she would forget him or change her mind, so he persuaded her to get married on July 4th 1931, before her trip.  While traveling she wrote a couple of letters – one to her “darling husband” and one to her mother in Canada.  But somehow they got mixed up.  When the letters arrived the secret was out.  By the time she reached Raymond her family and friends had organized a surprise bridal shower for her and as they chatted they all worked on this special Double Wedding Ring quilt!

Blue and White Stars

 When my mother Mary was first married she sewed for a dress factory owned by Del Grant in Los Angeles.  She sometimes brought home scraps.  Among them were these blue polka dot pieces. (Navy with white dots was sooo popular back then. I remember my Grandma Snyder wearing dresses from similar fabrics into the 80’s.) Her husband’s mother (Estella Naomi Snyder) and grandmother (Emma Jane Parkins) pieced this lovely star quilt from those scraps.  Mom and I backed it sometime between 1970 and 1980 and hand quilted it (mostly Mom).  I used it on my bed until it started showing signs of wear in 1988 when I was bedridden for several months.  It will always be one of my favorites, yet I dare not wear it out even more.  I’m sure you understand that feeling.

HORRORS! Your family quilts are not labeled?? Take care of that today! Download our little pack of 30’s Label patterns, trace them or print them!

More family quilts and their makers.

Do you have some blocks or “Tops” from your mother or grandmother? Quilt them up with these nostalgic Pantos. They’re on sale for you now!

Of course, all of these antique quilts were quilted by hand. That’s how I learned! But that’s not the modern way. In fact the stability of machine quilting can help strengthen a quilt if the fabric is not too fragile. ( read about it on the “Clothesline” page.) Perhaps it’s better than leaving them in a box for another generation. So give pantos a try! Or if you are making a quilt from reproduction fabrics. These might be perfect as well as many other MeadowLyon patterns.

Redd Wagons West

I designed this one about 8 years ago for a family reunion. I made up a small section to show at the reunion – it’s still not finished because I didn’t have enough of the “snow-dyed” fabric I used for it.  But there’s another family reunion this year so I feel motivated.  I’ve snow dyed more fabric that, miraculously, matched.  You can read all about the stitched medallions in the download for Redd Wagons West if you’re interested.  But what I really hope is you’ll feel inspired to make a memory quilt about your own family history. I wonder where your family lived? What they did?

Yoyo Quilt

The Yoyo quilt is definitely 30’s fabrics – the real thing. The squares were assembled but not put together into a quilt.  I started making the “sashing” Yoyos from flowered fabric and then realized it was not vintage looking so I switched to green.  I “gathered UP’ the circles from vintage fabric as I sat waiting in the car to pick up the neighborhood kids from school. I sure wish I could have found more of that pretty blue, but green it is. I’m ashamed for not getting this together yet!

Mom left several other block sets that I have not finished for her. Some that I can’t even find. 🙁 SO SAD! Maybe you are having some of the same feelings. Most of the time I feel overly busy. I mean, how can I possible do any more??? But last week on my trip for Christmas I realized I could have been sewing these Yoyos together in the car! Do your MOM a favor and finish her quilt!


4 thoughts on “Grandma’s Quilts

  1. Being both a quilter and a family history nut, I was so interested in this post. What wonderful quilts and memories you have. And the photographs of people! I don’t have many of those, but I still like stumbling across stories now and then. Thank you so much for sharing these. I have exactly one quilt of my mothers – a tied snowball quilt. I never saw her quilt, but older siblings tell me she did, when she lived with her mother-in-law, whom I did know, but never saw quilt either! I saw a lot of her crochet, though, and have one piece that she did for my older sister’s 16th birthday. It has one area needing repair, however.

  2. Hi Susan,
    I’m thrilled you wrote to me about this. My goal was to inspire people to think about their family history.
    I’m sad you don’t have more quilts but am thrilled about your pieces of crochet. I have some also. I’ve tried to keep a tag pinned on them so I’ll know who made them but there are some I don’t know anymore. Since I’m thinking about labels, I suppose I could also make a little cloth label to baste onto them.
    Good luck with your family history. Do you go to Family It’s free. I go there and also to
    Love and happy memories. Judy

  3. I have had a series of “Quilters Through The Generations” over on my blog… very similar to yours. I’ve enjoyed reading some of your stories.
    Let me know if you might be interested in being featured in one of my posts.

  4. Yes, I love to help with one of your posts. Quilts are full of family history! Love, Judy

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