Wednesday, August 6

The rest of the "9 to 59 cents a yard" quilt story......

Here they are, the quilts that hold the "9 to 59 cents a yard" quilt story. As I said in my earlier post, my mother-in-law, Ora, gave me three quilt tops (sometime in the 1980's) that she had made between 1933 and 1935. Her future mother-in-law, Christine Clausen Andersen, helped her make them. They were never quilted but at some point over the years, Ora had stitched a tiny hem around each quilt top and used them, as she put it, as "Summer Spreads" on their beds. You've already seen the blue and white Jacob's Ladder that I posted a couple of days ago. It's my favorite for some reason. I backed it with brown and white gingham, tied it (no batting) and just folded the edges over for a binding. I did this sometime in the late 1980's and used it as a summer throw in my son's room. When I really got back to quilting (in the mid 1990's), I often talked of those quilt tops and the ladies of the United Brethren Church that inspired me. I thought about having my Aunt Marie and some of the ladies do the hand-quilting but I never got to it in time. When my Aunt Marie passed away, I couldn't put it off any longer. I decided to start quilting the tops myself that had come from Ora and from my Aunt Bell. Starting small seemed like a good idea so I got out the blue and white Jacob's Ladder. I ripped out the ties, unstitched the binding and began anew. On a visit home to Iowa, I told Ora that I was going to hand-quilt her tops. She was excited and began to tell me about the quilts. And that was how I learned that Grandma Andersen, not her own mother, had taught her to quilt. Perhaps that's because her mother, Lulu was too busy working at their store, Clayton's Variety Store. While her mother may not have taught her to quilt, it was fabric from the variety store that was used to make the quilt tops.
Ora told me that the quilt top below, a scrappy Jacob's Ladder, was made from fabric that was carried in the store and was promotional fabric that was advertised as "9 to 59 cents a yard sale fabric". It was lightweight and not very high quality. However, just as it is today, once you get the customer in the door and they see something of a higher quality, you hope they will purchase the more expensive item.

And that's what the fabric is in the yellow sunflowers quilt. She never said (and I never thought to ask) what the fabrics used in the sunflowers blocks cost but just that it was the "good quality fabric". Additionally, they sold muslin blocks with pre-stamped images for applique and that is what was used to make these sunflower blocks. In addition, to the quilt tops, Ora gave me a number of left-over blocks and pre-cut "petals". I used one of the left-over blocks and made it into the heart pillow that is setting next to Brown Bear (that's his name and it's a story you'll learn next week). I asked her sister, Norma, if it was possible that the "petal" shapes were sold pre-cut. Ora had said she remembered cutting them but I had always wondered (instead of wondering, I should have been asking questions!!!). Norma said she couldn't recall that they were sold in pre-cut shapes and that, yes, Ora and Grandma Andersen probably cut them all. So that's the story of the "9 to 59 cents a yard quilt fabric".

Next week, I will lay the scrappy Jacob's Ladder out and sandwich it with some batting and backing, then begin to hand-quilt it. My grandson, Jacob, will be here and this time, I will let him put the first stitches in the center of this quilt top. It's only right that one day the quilts will be his.
So, yesterday I had a great day with my crazy quilting friends and I have photos to share of our fun time together. But first, I need to get my ironing done, get my bag packed and be ready to go to the retreat on Friday. Then tomorrow evening I will give you a glimpse of the fun we have at "Tuesday Crazies"!
P.S. Don't forget to leave me a comment so you can have a chance to win the Mystery Basket that I will be drawing for on August 25th. Five more items have been added to the feedsack squares that you see in the photo with Brown Bear. I thought about taking a picture of the basket as I added items but I am going to keep you in suspense. Instead, I will take a photo of all that will be in the basket on the last day, August 24th. I think I will want to do this again, so tell your friends and fellow bloggers to check it out. Add your comment on the July 30th post to get your name entered in the drawing!


Susan said...

What a great story! Thanks for sharing it and pictures of the tops, too.

When I first started sewing, in the early 60s, I bought fabric at Woolworth's for $1.19 - $1.59 a yard for clothes. It was 36" wide, too, not today's width. That was long after your MIL, and your aunts, but it might give you an idea. Inflation between 1940 and 1960 probably wasn't as bad as it is today. When I started quilting in the 1970s, fabric was 40-42" wide and it seems to me that I paid $3-4 a yard for most of the bicentennial fabrics I bought. Of course, I made a lot less, too! =)

Susan Ramey Cleveland said...

You MIL's quilts are lovely.

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

Sandi I loved reading your story. Thats the thing about quilts - they each have some story. When another blogger Eileen showed some orphan blocks from that same era on her blog this week, I thought - I wonder what story is behind those blocks. Its so fun to know the history. Especially when it is tied to family like your story. Its good to share that with your grandson. Thats the "legacy" you share.

craftydiane said...

Sandi, I, also loved reading your story about the quilt tops your mother-in-law made. I think it is great that you are going to hand quilt them into quilts! They will be a legacy to pass down for generations to come!
I am not sure if I have entered into your give away. If not please enter me.

"Peace can be found in the piecing of a quilt."
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