(And some other examples of quilting and needlework)
I drove over to visit my Cousin Alta one day this week. She lives in Tennessee about 100 miles southwest of here. We had a pleasant afternoon of talking about family history and life in general. Alta and my mother, Doris Sees Hill, were first cousins. Alta's mother, Elva Sees Hix, and my grandfather, Harry Sees, were brother and sister.
We started talking about and looking at quilts when Alta's friend came by to return some quilting books. She brought along a pinwheel(?) quilt and an unfinished quilt top that she wanted to show Alta.
The fabrics of the quilt top are vivid turquoise, pink, and purple prints. Alta's friend laughed about her daughter who said, "Mom, that's just not you!" when she saw the colors.
After her friend left, we looked at some quilts Alta has made. I photographed them so the Prairie Bluestem readers can enjoy them too. However, the photos don't do the quilts justice because they don't show enough of the detail.
Two more of Alta's embroidered quilts:
- White blocks, set together with blue -- sorry, this photo is a little fuzzy.
- Roses, embroidered on white blocks, with matching shams and throw pillow
We spread the quilts on Alta's bed, one on top of the other. Alta said she would leave them stretched out there for a few days to let their fibers relax. It's not good for them to be rolled up all the time.
The quilt at left is a friendship quilt that includes blocks made by relatives. Alta showed me this one to give me an example of how I might set together some quilt blocks that my Grandma Nora gave me.
When Alta and her husband first moved to the little village where she lives, she wanted to make a friendship quilt, but she didn't know anyone who could or would make a quilt block. She didn't realize how many quilters lived around there and how friendly they were! The quilt at right is the result.
Alta showed me three Log Cabin quilts that she has made.
- A diagonally striped quilt with matching shams and a coordinating pillow
- A diamond-patterned Log Cabin quilt -- notice the mini-blocks in the border.
- A diagonally striped Christmas quilt made of Christmas fabrics
As I was labeling these photographs and getting them ready to post, I wrote that this quilt has a pinwheel pattern, but now I'm wondering if they are windmills instead.
The quilt at right is a Fourth of July quilt. Each star is made of a different, star-patterned fabric. The back of the quilt is a star-patterned Christmas fabric, so it can be reversed for the winter holidays.
After she had quilted for a while, Alta realized that she had a big collection of quilt blocks that she had made as experiments, trying out different patterns and fabrics. She fitted them together and made a sampler quilt. A good name for it would be "The Joy of Quilting."
Alta's mother (my great-aunt Elva) was a quilter, too. Alta has a wedding ring quilt that her mother made. Also, Alta has framed a nice piece of embroidery done by her mother. Alta learned to hand quilt so she could finish some of the quilt tops her mother left her.
When Alta was a little girl, the Omaha World Herald published a quilt block every week, for the ladies to trace onto fabric and embroider. Alta used the World Herald patterns to make her first quilt when she was about ten years old - a Wild West quilt (photo at left).
Every embroidered block features a historic Western character, such as John Brown, Calamity Jane, and Sitting Bull. Alta's mother machine-quilted it for her after she had all the blocks set together.
Another interesting old quilt was given to Alta by a neighbor lady in Nebraska. This neighbor lady was single all her life and known for being grouchy. However, Alta was kind to her and became her friend. When Alta and her husband moved to Tennessee, the lady wrote to her every day for many years.
an unusual Sunbonnet pattern, partly appliqued and partly embroidered. Alta says she has never seen the pattern in any other quilt.
Alta's current project is a baby quilt (photo at right). She traced the animal pictures from a coloring book and embroidered them.
These photographs don't represent all the quilts that Alta has made. She can't even remember how many quilts she has made and given away.
A Beautiful Handmade Quilt
Old Quilts Need Special Care
Cover Stories Worth Preserving