Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Quilts from Dixie Community

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.

19 comments:

jillytacy said...

How lucky you are to have two family quilts! It's really cool that you have two pieces of your family history in those quilts. I have a quilt made for me by my mother and another log cabin quilt made by my mother-in-law. We use both on our bed. I hadn't really thought of them as pieces of our family history but I guess they are.

Rebel said...

Wow! That blue quilt is wonderful. It really makes me want to curl up underneath it!

My family inherited a hand-made quilt from a family friend's mother. It was pretty and we used it all the time. I loved it! But the last time I went to my parent's home I looked at it and the thing is worn to shreds! There's no way to repair it at this point, and no real point in preserving it. But my mom will probably save it for sentimental reasons. It was well loved & led a good life! I sketched out the pattern & took some meansurements. Some day I plan to make a duplicate of it.

Michael5000 said...

JQ, What An Amazing Post!

Those quilts are both so, so, so cool, each in their own way....

twolimeleaves said...

Wow, what treasures!! I love the top one, especially.

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

that top quilt certainly is valuable! maybe not monetarily but still... fabulous. I love the colors esp the hints of pink and blue. I'd call that fan quilting rather than clamshell, that's my guess. and wheee, fun purple quilt. Sorry I'm not good at dating quilts either. wow, 106 - amazing.

nicolette said...

To have two family quilts, that makes them valuable to me! I love the top quilt!

The Quilting Pirate said...

Those are so precious and wonderful! I think it's neat to have some history of an antique quilt in your procession! Lucky gal!

MP3 e MP4 said...
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Exuberant Color said...

I think the fabrics in the second quilt are from the 1950's and early 1960's. They look like the ones I was making aprons with at that time.

Grannyspot said...

Your "Grandma wedding quilt" is far nicer than any quilt I remember associated with the family! Lucky you! And how nice that the gift anticipated your passion!

Belvie said...

How special that you have those quilts! They are both lovely, but I really like you purple one.

Catherine said...

Both quilts are wonderful -- but I love the purple one in particular.

Quiltdivajulie said...

That "Double Wedding Ring" (or a close cousing of DWR) quilt is fabulous! I don't know about the age (at least not from this far away) but the color combinations are just wonderful. I absolutely love the mixture of the purple shades... What a treasure!

Elaine Adair said...

The 'old blue quilt" is just the greatest! Love how the colors blend and meld together. No help on dating the purple one though ... but it IS interesting about how the stories go - not necessarily accurate, but the stories are still wonderful.

Mary said...

Both quilts are wonderful!

My grandmother died when my Mom was 6 and just a couple years ago my aunt gave Mom a quilt that her mom had pieced and my aunt quilted - since I introduced my Mom to quilting, I will inherit the quilt...these family quilts are very special aren't they?

cathicrafts said...

Hello from Ireland, what great quilts I found when I opened your blog :)

Both family quilts are amazing, and what a treasure to own.

Helen in the UK said...

Old quilts have a real charm don't they, even the utility ones! The purple wedding ring quilt is really unusual. Lovely that they have a family connection, even if it turns out your GM didn't actual piece it. Thanks for sharing :)

Libby said...

Wow, what an amazing wedding gift. I love them both, and they are even better because they have such personal meaning...

Pattie said...

Hi Cheri - Thanks for sharing two wonderful family heirlooms. I love them both, but there's something magical about the old blue one - maybe because of its utilitarian nature. It just seems to have a history there, don't you think?