Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Susan’s Little Women Quilt!

While in St Charles, Illinois last week I was talking to Susan about special quilts, as quilters always do and she started telling me about a very special quilt her grandmother had started appliqueing for her back in the 1950s, using many of the fabrics from Susan’s own clothing.

All of the scenes, she said, were depicted from the book Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.

When she asked if she should bring the quilt in for show and share the next day, I of course said YES!  Who wouldn’t want to see that!

The story goes on that her grandmother put the blocks away and didn’t join them until later in her life, perhaps in the 1970s, some 20 years later.

She quilted them quilt-as-you-go style, joining each quilted block to the next with very fine hand stitching.

I had to take photos of each scene, they are so precious!

Once home – I had the opportunity to search out the origin of this pattern online and this is what I found:
Marion Cheever Whiteside designed and sold through her company, Story Book Quilts, about 50 different designs for applique during the 1940s and 1950s.  The applique designs were available as patterns, kits, and completed quilts. 

The appearance of the “Little Women” design coincided with the 1949 release of one of several film versions of this story, which may have boosted the quilt’s popularity.
As found in Massachusetts Quilts.
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The most famous heart wrenching scene of all….losing a sister.

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I love the little bit of lace under the skirt!

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True love always triumphs!

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Aren’t these adorable?

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Such detail!

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Forever and Always..and let’s have cake!

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Rocking the twins

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At the writing desk

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At the piano

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Into the hope chest

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Look at the embroidered snood!  Precious!

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Down by the lake

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Knocking at the door

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Is that money in her hand?!

I didn’t get a picture of the full quilt that Susan brought, but I was pleased to find this photo from Massachusetts Quilts of this version done in pink by Mildred Remsen:


Thank you, Susan for sharing such a treasure!  Your grandmother was quite the lady!

It’s another Desk Day for me.  Book orders out after a long holiday weekend…calendar to update and inbox to clear out with a gazillion things to reply to.

I’m thinking TOMORROW night for Quilt Cam – that will work for me!  Look for me Wednesday May 29 at 9pm Eastern!

And it’s time to start pulling things together for Ireland!! I leave June 4th!

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  1. These block are fabulous! I think I need to watch that dvd today now! Thanks for showing all the great details, too!

    1. Eegads! I forgot to say Congrats on the cabin! Woohoo!

  2. Love it thank you and Susan for sharing such a treasure, wish it had been on the day I was there.
    Lynda M (Potter quilt)

  3. What a treasure! It really brings Marmie and her girls to life. Even the Professor and Laurie. The embroidery is so perfect and effective. One of my favorites to read and to watch as I have all the versions of the movie in my library. Thanks for sharing, Susan and Bonnie.

  4. Gosh such a beautiful quilt and the blocks just tell the story don't they! I think I may have to pull the book out again...for the umpteenth time! looking forward to seeing the cabin come to life with quilts! Congratulations.

  5. I love these! They are spectacular. I would love to have these patterns.

  6. Anonymous11:34 AM EDT

    Wondering if these patterns are still available out there ... somewhere? What a super idea.

    I too have not mentioned how happy I am to see you have a cabin of your very own. Looks like THE perfect place. Love those double doors, sure will make moving things in and out much easier. Beautiful photos. CONGRATS!


  7. What a wonderful quilt and memory! I love the side view of the faces, such detail. Thanks for sharing your "finds" with us!

  8. What an amazing quilt. I love the book, and the movie versions too. Thanks for taking such great close up shots to share with us.

  9. I actually have a friend with a set of those blocks done by her aunt. We copied the pattern so I'd have a set. I don't know that I'll ever get around to doing them but I love having the pattern because I was named after the Beth in Little Women.

  10. This is awesome! Thank you for sharing!

  11. Precioso !! es una maravilla.

  12. Beautiful quilt with such a personal story to tell

  13. How cool is that!!!!! Love!!

  14. How cool is that!!!!! Love!!

  15. Besidess the great applique on this quilt, how about the awesome quilting ~~ so impressive! I do hand quilting, so know how much work this would be! Thanks so much for sharing,Bonnie! Carol

  16. Amazing quilt. Such exquisite detail. This was one of my favorite books of all time. Thanks for sharing this. You must be so excited to be heading to Ireland soon.

  17. Great quilt! Really brings back memories of a favorite book I'll now need to revisit! The money in Jo's hand is from selling her hair!!!

  18. Wiw! Have never seem or heard of this book concept...needle and thread are wonderful tools for expression.

  19. Anonymous10:53 AM EDT

    These quilts are gorgeous! What great inspiration! I'll keep my eyes peeled for a story to applique, since I recently completed an applique class.

  20. Anonymous5:25 PM EDT

    Does anyone know which edition (i.e. which illustrator) of Little Women these images are based on? I thought perhaps Jessie Wilcox Smith but they didn't match my 1933 color plates.

  21. Lynne Crocker3:41 PM EST

    Oh my gosh! Never thought I would see this on the Internet. Several years ago it was time for me to make my DIL's quilt. I had made my Granddaughter's and my Son's already. She had told me which one she wanted and then at the last minute changed her mind. She had seen a copy of the Little Women Quilt in an antebellum she had visited and wanted me to make it. When she told me which one it was I said "You'll never find that pattern, it's very old.". She said she could find it. I told her if she could find it I would make it. Well, I didn't think she would. But she did! So I was stuck. Needless to say, it was a REAL challenge. I haven't done anymore appliqué since. But she loves it and that's what matters.
    Lynne Crocker


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