My Grandmother’s Quilts

This is my most visited post, so far. It amazes me that folks come here, most. Enjoy.

I just want to tell you about my grandmother, Laura, this time.

I am a grandmother, and when I was little, I always wanted to be one. When I need inspiration, I remember my grandmother, Laura. Life is so different, now, though.

I know she was elderly because she had arthritic knuckles, gray hair, and a craggy voice. She wore a dress at all times, and she wore shoes with thick, high heels that tied on, sort of like men’s dress wingbacks, perforations and all. Do they even still sell those?

She sewed all her dresses. And sometimes, as a gift, she sewed my mother a dress, too. And she sewed the first dress I ever wore when I was very tiny. I know she made these dresses, because she made a quilt for each of her grandchildren. She did not go to a store for fabric for these quilts. No, she used fabric scraps from sewing dresses. When she made my quilt, she was careful to use many scraps from my mother’s and from my dresses.

I look at the quilt she made for me and I see the dress my mother wore to church in summer. I see a dress my grandmother wore. I see my very first, ever, dress I wore when I was tiny.

I don’t know how my grandmother found the time. She babysat three children, to make an income, because she was widowed when my mother was six. She used her entire, small backyard as a strawberry patch and put up all those berries or traded them for peaches and crabapples to put up. She made her own soap on the wood stove in the woodshed for all washing needs, for clothing, dishes, and bathing. She heated with wood or coal. She did laundry in the woodshed using a wringer washer and hanging it out in summer or in the woodshed in winter, when it froze.

And she prayed. I mean, she really took time out to pray. She would tell us not to bother her while she prayed, she would go to her room and shut the door, and she would pray.

When we visited her, we played with her one box of toys, leftovers from when our aunts and uncles were little. We loved these odd toys that didn’t do anything except prop up our playtime. She let us watch while she made us rolled-out sugar cookies in shapes like stars, hearts, and flowers.  When we asked for colored sugar, she told us it tastes the same. We didn’t believe it.

One wonderful time, I got to sleep with her because I was the oldest and probably would not kick too much. I got to watch her unbraid and comb her hair, which was far beyond waist length. Seeing my grandmother in her gown in the moonlight by the window, combing amazingly long and wavy hair, made her seem to me like an angel. I was in awe.

Then she broke the spell by rebraiding her hair. She never used a rubber band, but simply pulled a strand of hair and wound the end of the braid like a fishing lure. I was filled with questions, then. Why do you braid your hair to sleep? How does it stay in place with no rubber band? I don’t remember her answers, but only my awe and her amusement.

She died about 48 years ago. I still miss her. I still want to be like her when I grow up.

My Grandmother's Quilt

My Grandmother’s Quilt

Here is the quilt she made for me. You can see light red and white tiny checked fabric on the bottom, just right of center. That was my baby dress. It had teensy rickrack on it.

Just right of that is a sort of black and pink Tattersall with pink x’s. That was my mom’s summer Sunday dress for a while. It had white lace at the neckline.

Partly out of view on the left is a white with black swirls. My grandmother wore that. There we all are, in one quilt.

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28 thoughts on “My Grandmother’s Quilts

  1. Sii Isni says:

    Your grandmother must have been very loving you all.
    My grandmother died about 2 years ago. I really glad if could sleep with her and listening to prayers. 🙂

  2. Karen says:

    Very nice. That would be nice to wrap up in and wait for hurricane Isaac coming to my front door by Wed.

    Not many people make quilts these fast pace days.
    Love ya

  3. shofar says:

    Beautiful quilt and a heart-warming story! So many rich memories, what a blessing, Katharine, to remember your family members. I loved it!

    • katharinetrauger says:

      Oh, it truly is lovely, I must say. My grandmother was an expert quilter. And it contains far more memories than I had space to share, even just in the other fabrics. For instance, she wrote a dedication on the reverse, in pencil, that I traced with embroidery — her own handwriting preserved. Mmm.

  4. faerylandmom says:

    Incredible.

    Long, grey hair is why I’m excited that my hair is distinctly getting silvery grey strands! Neither of my grandmothers had long hair, but I remember seeing long grey hair once, when I was little. I thought it was so beautiful, and now that I’m getting greys, I’ve decided not to cover them with color. I just can’t. They’re too pretty. 🙂

  5. Kate Kresse says:

    She sounds exactly like my grandma! She made a quilt for each of her 6 kids (after they married) and a lap robe for each of her kids and each spouse. She did the same for all 25 of her grandchildren (quilt and lap robe) and every grandchild until the day she died. She used fabric specific to the person just like your grandma did….we ARE twins!!!

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