My father's parents were from a tiny place called Dixie Community. It may not exist by that name anymore, since I couldn't locate it on Google maps, but it was not too far from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I visited in 1966, when my military father was reassigned from Panama to Atlanta. Since our boat back to the States docked in nearby New Orleans, my dad took us to meet his family, most of whom he hadn't seen for 30 years and none of whom I had ever met (except for my grandma). They had us stay with cousin Inez because she had both electricity and indoor plumbing. Although I had seen poverty in Panama, that visit with my 'kinfolk' was my first experience of how hard life could be in the United States.
The women in Dixie Community made quilts, and I have two of them. Most of the quilts were utility quilts, like this one.
I grew up with this quilt. We wrapped it around furniture to protect the wood when we moved, and I remember sleeping under it occasionally, too. It's very heavy and very warm. Even though I lived with this quilt, I never really looked at it until I became a quilter myself. It's made from old clothing, I think mostly men's clothing. The back is solid black and folded over to the front to form the binding. You can see the large clamshell quilting on the front, but it's also tied and no quilting is visible on the back. I think the black fabric is just a replacement backing over one that must have worn out. This 'new' backing, which was very shoddily attached, is coming apart at the corners where I can catch a peek of a thick, cream-colored binding underneath. I have been thinking of removing enough stitches to expose some of the original back, although I'm a little nervous about messing around with it. (Don't know why -- the quilt is certainly not valuable.)
The other quilt I have was given to me by my father's family as a wedding present.
My aunts said my grandmother had made it as a girl with help from her mother, but I wonder whether they have the story right. My grandmother died around 1990 at the age of 106, which means she would have made the quilt in the 19th century. I don't know anything about dating quilts, but those fabrics look considerably more modern to me. The quilt is machine pieced and hand quilted.
I can't quite figure out how the edge was made. There is no separate binding. The darker lavender on the most outside border of the front is whip stitched down right on the very edge of the quilt. I can't tell whether the back is folded over to the front to be the next border in from the edge or whether that is a separate piece of fabric. Is this an old style of making quilts? Does anyone know? I am thinking of having this quilt appraised, not so much to learn its value, but to get a better idea as to when and how it was made.
Even though my grandmother quilted, I never saw her do it. I wish I could have.