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In the spirit of May holidays - Mother's Day and Teacher Appreciation - I was asked to write a blog on learning about quilting from my grandmother and mother. So, I will share a trip down memory lane and tell you about the two women who influenced my quilting and my life so much. To read the complete blog posting and see all the photos of family quilts, please read Three Generation of Quilters on Notions.


Grandma Willie Ann, 1900 - 1994, lived in small towns in Kansas and Oklahoma. She was a homemaker, mother of six, and a prolific quilter. Her husband worked in the oil fields; they always lived frugally.  I spent a lot of time with Grandma as a child. I don't remember her teaching me to quilt, per se, but she did teach me to sew on her 1949 Singer sewing machine and to embroider by hand. I made doll clothes from her quilt scraps. What I did learn from her was an appreciation of the possibilities of fabric and the joy of making things. She used to say to me "Virginia Ann, if you have busy hands, you will have a happy heart."


My mother Lola, 1918 - 2001, was an amazing, hard-working woman. The eldest of six, she helped raise her siblings, became a nurse during WWII, joined my father in the home-building business for decades, and then owned bed & breakfast for many years before finally retiring at 77! She made several quilts, all utilitarian and machine-made, for the beds in her inn. They reflected her personality - they worked hard for years to make others more comfortable.

Mother also encouraged my sewing and spent time pinning and pressing while I sewed a new project.


Although I sewed my own clothes as teenager and for our homes over the years, I didn't start quilting until I was pregnant with my first child at 36 in 1989. Once I started, it came so naturally I must have learned by osmosis as a child. Here is one of the first quilts I actually completed (an ongoing trait unfortunately) for my daughter Sara.


Sara is now 24, a lovely and accomplished young woman, and enjoys sewing clothes and bags.  I have all the supplies she will need to be the fourth generation when she is ready...if she wishes!

P.S. By the time I knew what questions about her quilts to ask, Grandma Willie Ann couldn't remember the answers. I don't even know what years her quilts were made. Please put labels on your quilts and record, in some way, the history of the quilts you make. It will make a difference to your family some day!

Does your family have generations of quilters or quilts handed down?

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Comment by Ann Johnson on May 29, 2014 at 1:29pm

Pam, thanks for sharing the quilt images...I love the Grandmother's Flower Garden as a quilt and a crocheted afghan next to each other!

Comment by Barb/WI on May 28, 2014 at 9:14am

I certainly don't have an impressive story like that to share!  Kudos to you and your generations of quilting!  My mom pieced some blocks, but never put them together to finish a quilt.  My two DILs have a great appreciation for quilts, but no interest in learning.  Too soon to know if there is any hope for GD.  I guess this makes me the family oddity.

Comment by Pam/NY on May 27, 2014 at 2:24pm

What a wonderful story and tribute to your grandmother and mother. My grandma taught me how to tat and crochet. She made one quilt top, Grandmother's Flower Garden. After, I took my first quilting class, she sent it to me to quilt. It took me two years to finish. I returned it to her. She loved competing in the local and state fair in Nebraska. She entered it in all the local fairs, where we won blues ribbons which qualified us to enter the state fair. The quilt took top prize that year. It is the first quilt in the photo hanging by the matching crocheted afghan she made. The ribbon is attached.

The quilt is stored and will be given to our first gdson on his wedding. I hope that our two gdsons marry girls that might want to learn quilting...otherwise, I won't be passing it along in my family!

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