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(This post is currently featured on The Quilting Gallery, so be sure to read it to see more photos and enter in the contest to win an ebook copy of Butter in the Well  for your Kindle.)

Isn’t it funny how we used “old bedding” when we were growing up, and now realize how valuable these antique quilts are due to the work and love put into each of them?

This fall I moved my parents from the farm they had called home for 65 years to a smaller home in town.

Because my parents didn’t have room for two trunks of quilts, I was lucky to inherit them. Inside these wooden chests were the handmade quilts, made by my great grandmother and grandmother, which we had used on our own beds when I was young.

My childhood years in the 1960s were spent in a wood frame house built back in 1870. This house was featured in my Butter in the Well book series. The only heat for my upstairs bedroom came from a floor vent, which let a little warmth drift up from the room below. Therefore, during the winter months, there were “blanket sheets” on my bed, plus three or four quilts on top.

Then I grew up, left home, and started using the light modern blankets on my bed.

Looking through the inherited quilts again brought back many memories. Not only of the quilts, but other flashes—like tucking my feet up inside the flowered flannel nightgown I wore to bed, pink sponge curlers, and having only my nose sticking out from under the pile of bedding.

Now I think of how I treated those quilts that we had used for everyday bedding, and am amazed that they survived.

Pink quilt used by author Linda Hubalek while growing up in the "Butter in the Well" house.(Pink quilt used by Linda Hubalek while growing up in the “Butter in the Well” house)

I marvel at the thousands of tiny handmade stitches and the variety and colors of the fabric—all scraps from past clothing of my ancestors.

How many hours did the quilters spend cutting out the block pieces, and then sewing them together?

Who sat around the quilting frame to quilt them?

What was the conversation those days back in the late 1800s and early 1900s?

Did these women ever consider their handwork would keep their decedents warm after they were gone? Or that I would treasure these quilts and the memories of the quilters a century later?

Just think, whether it was a hundred years ago—or present time—a quilt made by someone’s hand, is keeping another person warm.

How valuable is that? Priceless…

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Comment by Linda Hubalek on February 8, 2012 at 7:58pm

Pam- My grandparents had one of those big registers in the floor between their living room and dining room. I loved to stand on it to get warmed up- until my shoes got too hot... Thanks for that memory! That house is currently for sale so I went through it when it had an open house recently. So many things had changed since they moved out 30+ years ago but my memories were still there...but now that I think of it- the old register was gone.

What a find to get a dated quilt top. Too bad the quilter didn't include her name. I hope you add yours and the year it was finished because that quilt could be around another 100 years...

Comment by Pam/NY on February 8, 2012 at 4:10pm

My great aunt and uncle had a farm in Fairbury,NE. I would take a greyhound bus to their place for holidays and summer. They had the wood stove in the kitchen for cooking and heating the house. The old registers were big and in the middle of the room. I was afraid to walk on them..thought I would fall through to the basement! Thanks sharing Linda. I am quilting a top I bought at a sale...she embroidered 1933 on the corner. It is appliqued butterflies and flowers. I am making it for our first great-granddaughter. She's only a dream, since we have grandsons and they are 5 and 3!!! But, it looks like a girl quilt and someday along the line she will receive it along with a letter. We must keep our family stories going!

Comment by Linda Hubalek on February 8, 2012 at 3:59pm

Oh, and we could sit upstairs and listen through the register to what was being said downstairs...

We'd run downstairs in the morning and dress in front of the stove because it was too cold to do it upstairs...

We could go on and on about memories, just because of a quilt on a bed...

Have fun remembering, and making new quilts for new memories!

Comment by Ruthann on February 8, 2012 at 1:21pm

 we live in an old house like that too, our kids did the same thing, throw things down, remember times when we could see our breath on cold winter morning, had wood heat and sometimes stove ran out of wood, also used about 3 heavy wool quilts too. had one that fell apart, it had a pair of wool longjohns and a wool shawl as the inside part . love these old quilts, years ago they had sew bees that ladies sewed together till got theirs done. was also time of no TV, radio, etc and moms stayed home instead of working. well times change, but look at us ladies nowdays, are making time and making another new generation of quilts and quilted items for our ancestors to ooohhh and aaah over and to put on their beds if not to keep warm to make their home more homey and remember..

Comment by J.S. on February 8, 2012 at 10:03am

Brings back memories.  We had registers in our house and also used sheet blankets.  When we were kids, we'd throw things down the registers to see who we could hit on the head that was sitting downstairs underneath them.  Got yelled at pretty good for that. 

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