Who has ever snuggled under a handmade quilt and instantly felt comfort? There’s nothing like the smell and feel of a homemade quilt that’s been drying on the clothesline. Only this past Christmas have I ever bought a quilt from the store. This was because I was afraid my great-grandmother’s quilt that was on my bed would get torn or wore out. (I have three little boys…accidents happen constantly.) I didn’t want my family heirloom to risk getting ruined.
Ever since I was little, I had a fascination with quilts. Not just any quilts, but hand-me-down quilts. My eyes lit up in the antique store when I saw quilts. If I was in someone’s home and saw a quilt, I had to ask who made it. I loved the feel of them and I loved to study the tiny stitches made by someone’s hardworking fingers.
What was once a family’s necessity has now become a decoration. I guess this is ok, because otherwise all the old things we have would become so threadbare they would be no good. So I’m really glad that museums exist to keep old things safe!
Quilting always seemed so laborious to me. It would take forever and I would never have time to make one. I don’t have the sewing skills to make a whole quilt. I’m fascinated by the beautiful patterns used by our mountain ancestors to make their family a quilt. I dream of making one myself someday.
I’m a quilt junkie.
I have a closet shelf full of very old, very fragile quilts. I treat them like gold. I’ll include a few pictures here.
Aren’t they stunning? Some of these are close to one hundred years old. I have dreams of old quilts. If I know there’s a quilt somewhere that no one else wants, I’ll risk life and limb to get it. No fear of rat infestation will deter me. (Ask my aunt Amy, she’s seen the quilt fervor during one of our adventures.) I’ve came home with bags of old quilts and my husband just rolls his eyes. He accepts me and all my quirky ways.
Washing old quilts is a huge chore. I luckily have a big laundry sink in my laundry room. I would soak the quilt in enough water to cover it. I’d wring it out and rinse, rinse, rinse. Then soak it again and again until the soaking water ran clear. Then I’d soak it with some laundry soap. There was no way I was going to risk putting old quilts in a washing machine, I’d be afraid they’d rip. I’d say one quilt took half a day to do, considering the soaking time. I would dry it by the woodstove; just so happens it was colder weather. I didn’t want to risk the dryer either. After all that soaking and drying, they come out looking rather fine!
Maybe one day I’ll make my own quilt and my kids will think of it fondly. I know when our fore-mothers were making their quilts, they probably didn’t look 100 years down the road and think their work would still be around. I like to preserve the past. Keeping a quilt is keeping a piece of my Appalachian identity; stitched and saved for generations.