Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Second Wedding Quilt

Yes. This log cabin quilt is my second wedding quilt and yet.....I've only been married once. It's a story that I almost hate to tell; I have not gotten over it and I may be even sadder about it now than I was at the time. 

 I wish I could show you the original quilt - I wish I could see it myself.

Here's what happened. My Aunt Agnes  presented us with a log cabin quilt for our wedding gift in 1969. She particularly liked this pattern -  if the number of them she made for various nieces and nephews is any indication. The fabrics in mine included many of my sewing scraps or old family clothing.
One December day in 1973 we returned home after taking our little boy to see Santa to find our front door busted in and all electronics missing.....pulled right out of the wall unit with cords still dangling.... broken glass on the floor - a mess.
 In the bedroom, the bed was unmade and that not being such an unusual situation, I didn't realize immediately that the 'covers' were gone...including our wedding quilt!
I later learned from a neighbor, who didn't realize what she was seeing, that it must have merely been taken to cover the TV as they carried it out. She recalled seeing  a couple carrying heavy items with a quilt over them and assumed they were moving.
So how did  I come to have this quilt? My dear Aunt made us another one! I know I appreciated it at the time but as a quiltmaker myself now, I also know I did NOT realize how big a deal that was!
I still wonder what happened to that quilt? Did it get thrown in the dumpster? when it had served its purpose?  Did the thieves use it for years and years? Did they sell it or use it as a paint drop? Did someone get 'lucky' at a Goodwill thrift shop (as I have done)?  I'll never know but honestly, I still have hope.
Some years ago while documenting quilts a log cabin was brought in with a turquoise backing and my heart did a little flip flop. I quickly saw that it was NOT my quilt but it made me think....is it still 'out there'?  I realized it could show up in my life again.
I just can't believe that I have not one single photo of the original quilt. Not one shot where it is in the background, or wrapped around a kid. Not one shot of Agnes at her sewing machine or at work selecting fabrics or with my husband and I and the quilt when she gave it to us.
I do have this, though. Here's Agnes 'dressed down' for doing laundry! I think it must also have been her painting outfit! She often wore our discarded clothing and though we were teens, she seemed to make it work.

It's too late for me and my first wedding quilt but I did learn several things from this experience which I pass along in hopes that you will be spared such an experience.
  • Document your quilts; every quilt in your home, not just the ones you make or your favorites. The digital camera is your best friend. Take photographs of your quilts. If you get a quilt from someone, be sure the maker is in the photo. If you give a quilt, be sure you are in the photo. Start an album and/or digital folder which you back up from time to time. Record it's story. Write what you know - measure it, take a full view and a close up.  In just one generation all information about a quilt can be lost.
  • Label all your quilts; new or vintage. For those you make include at least your full name, city, state and date. For others, something that identifies you as the owner AND where you got the quilt or other information you have on it. I use "Property of": with my name, city, state and phone number on my vintage quilts.These simple steps can prevent your quilts from joining the ranks of the many many anonymous textiles out there.
  • Consider appraisals for at least some of them. A written appraisal by a qualified appraiser can be a big help if loss or damage occurs. For more information about appraisals or to find an appraiser near you visit either the  PAAQT or AQS websites.
I was fortunate to inherit her original 1929 copy of Ruth Finley's classic book, Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them.

I was especially thrilled and touched to find this penciled on the front inside page........
Jean's quilt - queen size
Blocks = 13" sq.(after seams)
7 blocks wide 8 long.
I also have a cardboard template she used for her log cabin strips. What would she have accomplished with rotary tools!?

Agnes died in 1981 at the age of 81. My Mom (Agnes's little sister by 20 years) often said, "Oh, Jeanie, I wish Agnes could see what you are doing now".
Her photo is on  my sewing room wall as is this lady bunny I got some years ago - -
 strings hanging off her skirt, tall and thin.
  I've named her Agnes.

So today I raise a  toast in remembrance of a wonderful, generous, talented lady, my Aunt Agnes and also, of course, in celebration of our marriage of forty-two years .... and counting!
Shiny Happy People

 June 21, 1969

Next: Patriotic Quilts


  1. what a wonderful story. I will get my camera out now. I do remember going to Aunt Agnes' house several times.

  2. What a wonderful story. Loved it.
    And what a happy looking couple.
    Hope you and Dale had a wonderful day.

  3. Nice story Jean.
    Pulls at my heart strings too - we had a theft that included needlework several year ago, the sting doesn't go away.
    Happy Aniiversary!

  4. Nice story Jean. I love the keepsakes that have been kept too.
    Pulls at my heart strings too - we had a theft that included needlework several year ago, the sting doesn't go away.
    Happy Aniiversary!

  5. What a story, and what a shame! I've often thought that there isn't a picture of me quilting, or reading, my two favorite hobbies. It would have been lovely to see your aunt quilting, or sewing. The pictures you have of her show her to have lots of personality, though!
    Your idea of putting "Property of" on a label is ingenious. I think I'll put that into use if I can remember to make a label!

  6. What a great story, Jean! AndI love the Bunny. What a great tirbute to a wonderful aunt.

  7. Did anyone notice a musical link in this post? Just curious! Be the first to identify it...just to show off!

  8. Great suggestions about documenting your quilts, especially for family. Imagine if the quilt that wrapped the stolen goods had a label, it might have a better chance to be returned someday, just maybe.


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