Tuesday, July 22, 2014

20 years in the Life of a Well Loved Quilt!

In 1994 we moved from Payette, Idaho to Burley, Idaho.

Eldest son Jason was 10, his brother Jeff was 4. I was 32.

I was SO excited about this house –it was built in 1914, we had photographs of it when it was just a new house on a new street in a little Idaho town.

As with previous moves, my stash came WITH me – and in an effort to start organizing and using scraps I started a quilt that was going to fit our bed.

It took me about a year to piece the blocks for this quilt, every scrap I could get my hands on was cut into 1.5” widths and in early Bonnie Hunter fashion, was sorted into one of two categories….Color or Neutral.  Very light or dark.  Foreground or background.

I finished the top in 1995, the first top I quilted on my new long-arm, then an APQS Ultimate I.

Here is a photo from that long ago show and share at guild meeting:

Broken Star Log Cabin, 1995

My inspiration came from a photo in a quilting magazine of an antique log cabin quilt and I extended it to make it long enough to fit my bed.

It’s been ON my bed since that day – nearly 20 years have gone by since I finished that binding, which is now needing repairs in places:


Oh, what a life we have had together, this quilt and I!

With this last washing there was some shredding going on – and I admit my heart sunk, just a little bit.  This quilt is full of fabrics from my early days of quitling…lots of 70s, 80s and early 90s prints in here….and yes, still some recycled plaids:


I loved bright yellow and cheddar even then…that 1970s print with the lady bugs and butterflies STILL shows up in my quilts from time to time.


Poor shredded bits!  Do you recognize any of these prints?


There are feathers quilted through all the neutral areas, wreaths and sprays. I loved wide open neutral areas even then --before the term "low volume" was ridiculously introduced in MODERN terminology.  To me -- it is and will always be -- just a LIGHT neutral area.


I have loved and lived with this quilt for 20 years!


It’s now being designated to “FOLDER” status.

I’ll fix the binding bits that have come undone.  I’ll keep it folded for display, but it won’t be a bed quilt anymore.  I don’t want it to be any more shredded than it already is.

But isn’t that the life of a quilt that has really LIVED?  It’s full of memories of the places we have lived, of my boys growing up, of the pets that have come and gone.  A testament to my love of fabric and all things scrappy.

I haven’t made a log cabin in a long time….perhaps it’s time to make another??

Don’t forget that there is QUILT-CAM tonight at 9pm EST!  I’ll see you here!

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  1. my first quilt has had three bindings. I had one rough house quilt that has had three tops :)
    Like you, I love and USE my quilts, some times all up.
    I've been quilting since 1971 and I recognize nearly all of the colored fabrics.
    Life is good.
    Sharyn in Kalama

  2. my daughter has one of my first quilts that I made and it now looks like that too! I replaced the binding two times and then last year she asked if I could fix the border as the fabric was falling apart - I told her no - it was best to fold it and put it away! It had been well loved and used. it was about 20 years old too

  3. Hi Bonnie - as you are in your way to the UK, check our weather reports. It's currently hot here, London has been in the 30's in the shade - not hot by American standards but very few places have air con in the UK - it just can't be fitted into old properties. Advise your travellers to bring shorts, sleeveless tops, dresses, sandals and so on. . I'm off to do some more sunbathing xxx it's no weather for jeans and trainers xxx

  4. Hi Bonnie

    It is a beautiful quilt and has stood the test of time and use so well. I thought you might appreciate this poem I found and saved sometime ago, unfortunately I don't know the author's name.

    I found last night upon my bed
    An extra cover, neatly spread;
    A patchwork quilt my mother made
    From bits of cloth of every shade.
    'Twas just a quilt like you often see,
    But it brought fond memories back to me.
    There was a tiny piece of plaid;
    "Twas part of a dress my mother had
    When I was a girl of nine or ten-
    I remembered how pretty I thought it then.
    Here was a bit of calico;
    Part of her apron long ago.
    Patterns in flowers by the score,
    All from dresses my mother wore.
    Here was a piece of polka dot
    Saved from rompers I wore when a tot.
    There were browns and blacks, and a bit of blue, Pieced together so nice and true.
    Now the colors have begun to fade;
    'Tis many a year since it was made.
    As I looked at the quilt upon my bed and thought how fast the time had fled,
    Just as plainly as could be.
    And then, as I lay beneath the fold
    Of the patchwork quilt, now getting old,
    I seemed to feel upon my head
    The gentle hand that drew each thread,
    And I thought, "If she came back to me,
    Would she find the woman she would have me be?"1

  5. My son currently has my first quilt, red, white and blue log cabin. My how I have grown since then, and mostly thanks to you dear Bonnie. I was gifted with my great grandmother's utility quilts and was asked to repair them. I'm so uncertain of what to do, specially with those shredded areas. Bindings I can repair, backing's I can replace, but what to do with those patches, my mothers memories of her mother's dresses or her grandfather's work shirts or her sister's skirts. Sigh ... our quilts tell such stories, sometimes I wish they could talk.

  6. Great post, Bonnie. I tend to get so focused on the stitching, that I forget about the whole lifespan of the quilt. It's good to get some perspective sometimes!

  7. Your quilt's life cycle is similar to that of a person. Living a full life and being loved as a bed quilt for many years, then retiring to the easy life but still out where everyone can see it and still love it.

  8. what an awesome story, Bonnie---I havent been quilting that long so I dont have such a treasure...however, my daughter still uses my first quilt--a rail fence :-) ...ps--love that poem in the other post :-) anyway--thanks for sharing your meanderings :-)

  9. Quilts are like people,the more they are loved the better they get. Sometimes they witness good memories and sometimes sad but the more they absorb the more beautiful they get. I have the first quilt I made, a king size sampler. I made it for my mother and she used it on her bed every day for thirty years. When I look at it I see the tiny tear made when she was recovering from surgery and was playing with the kitten by moving her feet and hands back and forth under it. I see the one place on the binding that is worn through from her pulling it up as she snuggled under it, sometime by herself,sometimes with the grand child. I see the forts she and her grandchild made with it, her sound asleep with the cat sitting on her chest trying to stare her awake. I can even see her last days comforted under her quilt as she struggled to gain release from her failing body. Her quilt holds so many wonderful memories for me and to me it's more beautiful now than it was the day I finished it.

  10. I made quilts for each of my three sons for Christmas last year. I asked my youngest if he was using the quilt I made and he said that he was. When I asked what he did with the other quilt I had made him about 15 years ago (maple leaf), he said that it was just frayed too much. When I found out that he hadn't thrown it out with the trash, I volunteered to put new binding on it, but he noted that it had several pieces that had been patched by him or his wife. Well, it is sad to see a quilt that he has loved sent to storage, but it must be. At least, it isn't in the garbage can! He has had a quilt on his bed either made by me or his grandmother his entire life. He is definitely a quilt lover. Love your log cabin! If you make one, will you put your directions on the "free patterns" section, please?

  11. How interesting to see your quilt and also to hear you say maybe it's time to make another log cabin!! Log cabin by Eleanor Burns was nearly my first "real" quilt (I think it came after trip around the world) and just last week I started making another log cabin! This time I used my Accuquilt Go cutter in addition to the rotary cutter. Cutting was a fun project, and sewing it up is a breeze!

  12. Anonymous10:34 AM EDT

    Wonderful post, Bonnie. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. I did not begin to quilt until I retired six years ago, so none of my quilts have reached retirement except a couple made with novelty prints now too babyish for my tween granddaughters. I expect they will get another run someday.
    Which of your beautiful quilts will you put on your bed now? Maybe they can take turns so you can enjoy all that don't travel with you.
    Best wishes,
    Brenda in VA. Bbbuck@verizon.net

  13. I have one of those oldies but goodies. Mine is a Lemoyne Star that I cut the pieces with a template, hand pieced and hand quilted. We have slept under it in the winter since it was finished in about 1992. Fabric was collected in a long road trip we took. Many memories, grandchildren, illnesses and a move. Time for it to be retired also and get a rest. I see some of my fabrics in yours too. Thanks for the reminder. See you at QuiltCam tonight. Love it.

  14. Thank you for sharing your quilt and its story! I was wondering if you would share how you wash such a large quilt... do you use your home machine or take it to a laundromat?

  15. Your quilt is beautiful, thanks for sharing! I still have the first quilt I made when I was 16. It almost qualifies as an antique! It is a 54-40 or Fight pattern made from my clothing scraps. Both of my grandmothers helped my mother and me quilt it. It is now tattered and stained, but it has been well loved and is still treasured.

  16. Anonymous11:24 AM EDT

    WOW Bonnie,

    I love it, I'd like to suggest you use the deck picture as your cover photo. It would represent the beginning of your quilt journey and you'd get to see it everyday. I really is VERY nice.

  17. Your quilt has lasted so well. Definitely time to let it rest and not get any more worn. I agree with your dislike of the silly phrase "low volume" which seems to have spread like measles all over the quilting internet world! Will be watching your Quilt Cam on my iPad as catch up tomorrow. Timing doesn't fit with the UK although I am not certain how 9pm your time settles with ours. Probably the middle of the night!

  18. I just re-Bound a LadyBug quilt for my DD#1. Her MIL made it for her when she had her first Child 11-1/2 years ago. The homespun single binding just didn't quite do. I'm so glad you have this memory of those early Quilt days. I recognize several of those fabrics. DH has Scouts tonight so I'll be waiting for Quilt CAM as I sew my Row by Row Patterns together. 3 of the 8 I need for the quilt are done. Row #4 has 220 pieces in it, I just counted.

  19. Such a nice post! On a funny note-I not only recognize a lot of those fabrics-I still have some of them!

  20. It's a beautiful quilt Bonnie! And just think, the fact that you loved it so much is what helped make you the amazing quilter you are today!

  21. My first quilt was in the Bicentennial year, and made with the fabrics they made for that, which didn't seem to be the quality of other cloth - think it is the only quilt that was actually so worn out it couldn't be repaired anymore. The rail fence I use each winter because it is heavier and warmer with a thick batt, was made with blends - it's starting to shred on the one end that was at the top-so I ignored the sleeve and turned it around so the worn part is on the bottom and we still use it! Your posts are always interesting! And love the poem.

  22. Once again, I just did repairs on my first completed quilt (circa 1979). It's a Tumbling Blocks design made with whatever was in my scrap bag, including satin, crepe, flannel, etc. and has been washed many dozens of times. Lately, it's the non-wovens I'm replacing by removing the shredded bits and appliqueing replacement units. Fortunately, the binding is still good as I originally used a quality sheet for back and binding.

  23. Love the story of your very loved bed quilt. Did you notice a certain color or type of fabric that was fraying more than others? My current project has fabrics that feel like sheets and others that feel more course and I can see the weave. I wonder how they are going to last, wearing next to each other.

    Penny, nice poem-thanks for sharing.

  24. Dear Bonnie...you bring tears to my eyes...a quilt well loved.

  25. Oh I have the same issue1 That first quilt, I've learned a lot since then too. Mine was made in the 80's and it was hand quilted. I take it out and refold it occ.
    All of my girls (3) want it. But it is too fragile to be used. So I have plans....to remake it 4 x once for me and once for all 3 of them. maybe the points will match this time.

  26. So sorry it has to br retired, but its a wonderful excuse to make another log cabin! I'm game . . . Have so enjoyed your posts from the cabin and NC. Donna Fisher

  27. Janet Brown

    My favorite quilt to make is the log cabin pattern. I never get tired of arranging and rearranging the blocks!
    Thanks for all you do!
    Janet in Newark, DE

  28. I have the same feeling about the Double Irish Chain on my bed. I thought after making it I would put it up so as not to wear it out, but now I don't want to sleep under anything else. It was your pattern and I am forever grateful for sharing your love of quilts and quilting. I got over all the hard work I put into and realized that it wouldn't mean as much if I didn't use it.

  29. Well-done, thou good and faithful quilt!

  30. I have a quilt like that. I scrappy Kansas Troubles, took over a year to make and it stayed on the bed for years. It now has some tears and fading going on and is folded up and put away for now. I should figure out how to display it.

  31. Bonnie,

    I love the story of our quilt. Last year I took off a quilt my husband made for me for a wedding present. We've been married 32 years. He did all in secret. It was a trip around the world. He cut out all of the squares with scissors. He used a sheet for the backing and a blanket for batting. Over the years, I've fixed the binding and mended holes. It now sits on a rack in our bedroom

  32. Love your well loved quilt! I have always loved a log cabin quilt and the very first quilt I made was a small table topper in the log cabin pattern! Thanks for sharing with us.

  33. Anonymous9:43 PM EDT

    What a lovely tale of your quilt. My oldest (he'll be 40 next year) still has the first quilt I made, it's been patched and repaired a couple of times. It was before I knew any better (I was 18), I bought two flat sheets, washed them, and used fabric paint and coloring books to paint designs on it for him when he was a baby. It doesn't have much quilting, but it's been well loved.


  34. And that's how quilts should be, made, loved, used, remembered. One of my *now* cherished quilts was made by my grandmother, from feedsacks, something I knew nothing of the value of, but I used that quilt, and threw it into laundromat washers & driers and it is now also a 'folder', but at present it's lounging in my hope chest.

  35. Beautiful quilt and beautiful blog. Our quilts really are our own autobiographies. Thanks.

  36. What a lovely story! I guess we learn that fabric wears out. Hadn't thought about it as I am still a newish quilter. maybe the thing to do is to have 4 quilts for the bed, summer, spring, fall and winter and change them out regularly! What a project that would be.

  37. Oh Bonnie. What a poignant story of your quilt. It made me think of my grandmother's quilt that I have. It is like yours, somewhat tattered and worn. When I received it, I thought about all the places it had probably been and the times it warmed many under its shelter. Because of it being somewhat fragile, I have put it on a quilt rack to be shown in it's wonderful glory. Like yours, it is a testament to the woman who made it.
    Take care.

  38. My daughter found a picture of one of the first "quilts" I made - it was simply a piece of printed fabric that I sandwiched with a blanket inside and a backing and machine quilted in straight lines. She used that quilt a lot in her childhood and asked me where it was. I can't remember what happened to it, but we have moved many times since it was used.

  39. What great memories that that quilt gives to you. I think preserving it the way you are is a great idea. How about maybe folding it across the foot of a guest bed? That way more of it will be seen and it is "being used" as it was intended without excessive wear and tear.
    Sincerely, Paula K.

  40. Anonymous1:51 PM EDT

    Bonnie, I will never forget the day I went into a patient's home, and after meeting his son that were 24, he told me his quilt story. The young man had a quilt made by his grandmother that he carried around his entire childhood and into young adulthood. Well loved and filled with his memories of childhood. His father stated he would not even leave to college without it "tucked' away in his belongings! When I asked to see it, he brought out a remnant of cloth about 12 x 24 inches! Not even a quilt just a fragment. I thought to myself, well done loving grandma, you will not be forgotten. It was so sweet that I almost started to cry!! Carolyn Barnett

  41. I knowI'm not supposed to feed the quilters, but if you want to repair the shredded Teal?mauve paisley rose print piece with some of the same print, I'm your girl! Just holler and I will be glad to share1 :D

  42. I know I'm not supposed to feed the quilter, but if you want to repair the shredded Teal/mauve paisley rose print piece with some of the same print, I'm your girl! Just holler and I will be glad to share1 :D

  43. I still have my first pieced quilt that I made for my husband. I was so proud of this Christmas present that I made for him. Being self taught, I thought to keep him extra warm , I put 2 batts in it. Yes two batts AND I hand quilted it!!! LOL my kids growing up always liked using Daddy's quilt when they were home sick because it kept them extra warm. It's shredded from being loved to much, but the memories are still present. It's priceless.


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