The first one is this little coverlet which was appliqued and embroidered by my mother-in-law in 1934 as she awaited the birth of her first child. Regrettably, the baby was not to be, and it wasn’t until 1943, when she and my father-in-law adopted my DH as an infant that this coverlet finally was put to the use for which it was intended. Unlike a quilt, this coverlet is just two layers of cotton with no batting in between. The blocks were machine pieced and the top was closed after turning with a simple running stitch. For the past 70 years or so it has been folded up and hidden away in drawers. DH and I came into possession of it about 25 years ago. And it promptly went right into a drawer where it has been ever since. Although it doesn’t show in the picture – in the bottom right hand corner, she signed it C.M.S. 1934.
I’m afraid it’s really showing its age. The edges are yellowed, the sashing is really faded, there are some small holes in a couple of the squares and there are some stains that I don’t think can be removed. But I would like to try to save it. I’d welcome ideas if anyone has suggestions. Should I take the coverlet apart and join the squares with new sashing? Should I get some special soap and try to wash it? Should I turn it into a wallhanging? And if I go to all that trouble, would my DDiL even appreciate it? Although it has sentimental value to our family, DDiL never met my mother-in-law so it wouldn’t have much meaning to her. And the quality of the workmanship is pretty poor compared to what is available today. I guess more to the point: is there any point in trying to save it or should I just fold it up and put in back in a drawer? Input would be really appreciated.
It brings to mind the two quilts that my great grandmother made for my brother and me in the early 1950s. These quilts were made with large nine patch squares, all hand stitched (no machine stitching anywhere). These two quilts were staples on our beds when we were growing up, and as a result, they were washed many many times and by the time they were retired, were literally falling apart. But my mother washed them one last time and saved them. When mum passed away in 2008, my daughter and I were tasked with cleaning out her house and we came across the quilts. I had completely forgotten about them. We spread them out and looked at them very carefully, but as near as I could determine, they were really beyond repair. So many of the squares were falling apart, and a lot of the fabric was missing. To my everlasting regret and my great shame, we delegated them to the ‘throw-away’ pile. Perhaps that’s why I want to try to preserve the little coverlet. At least I did save the small, pure wool granny square afghan, a couple of crocheted doilies and this beautiful hand beaded purse (circa 1925) that my Great Grandmother hand crafted.
Now we come to the last item. In 1951, when my parents were still married to each other – my father took a job one year on a fishing boat on the north coast of British Columbia. This meant that he was away for several months at a time. To occupy his time in the evenings, away from his family, he decided to do a pre-printed cross stitch picture. When it was finished he had it framed behind glass. When my parents divorced about 12 years later for some unknown reason my mother ended up with the picture. She wasn’t particularly fond of it and refused to have it hanging on her walls, so it spent a lot of time propped up in a closet, but eventually the frame started to come apart so mum took the fabric and folded it up and put it away. Because it was behind glass, the fabric was, to some extent, preserved, and it stayed clean, Enter me, about 10 years ago, desperate for something for my brother, who seems to have everything, for Christmas. I took the cross stitch and ‘framed’ it with fabric and proudly presented it to my brother. He was delighted to get it – something very special that his dad made. He has it hanging for everyone to see and he’s so proud of it. “My dad did that” he tells his visitors. (and hopefully he tells them his sister put the fabric frame around it).