Friday, February 21, 2014

The "Grandma Quilts"

My Grandma was an amazing person with so many talents. One of her passions was quilting. She used scraps of fabrics and made beautiful quilts for her 7 children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren. Here are some of my special memories.

When I think about my Grandma Shamblin, it always makes me smile. It's hard to find words to describe her, because she had so many talents and interests. She was a wife, a daughter, a grandmother, and a friend to all.

One of her passions was her quilting.  When my mom made us new clothes, I remember bagging up leftover fabric and taking it to Grandma. Grandma was always excited to get new fabric, and I loved watching her sort the colors and prints. Sometimes she would show my mom and me a sample block of the quilt she planned to make next. She would lovingly sew the scraps into quilts, and it was great to look at her quilts and point out which fabrics had come from us.

It is amazing how small her stitches were on the quilts. She had a large quilting frame and worked on quilts during the winter. She also had a smaller, portable quilting hoop, and she certainly put both to good use. 

When each grandchild was planning to get married, Grandma would make a quilt for the happy couple. I remember looking forward to the quilt that she made for me. It was absolutely beautiful! She told me that she wanted me to really "use" the quilt. 

Our "Grandma Quilt"

She said so many that she made quilts for had just put their quilt on a shelf, and that wasn't why she made quilts! At one time, we even displayed our quilt on the largest "top bed" in our camper! Once we were at a campground at a favorite lake, and Grandma was there, also. It really made her happy to see that we were using the quilt, even on our trip! She warmly reminisced about making so many quilts for those that she loved.

 We still use the quilt to this day, although not as often. Most of the time, my "Grandma Quilt" is in a place of honor, neatly folded and placed on the bench at the foot of my bed. The edges are a little frayed, but it is still so soft and warm. It is so comforting to cover up with this special quilt on a gloomy day and have warm, sunny memories of Grandma.

When the first child was born in each family, she made a "Satin Block Quilt". I used that quilt to wrap around my tiny firstborn son as I brought him home from the hospital on that cold, snowy, winter day. My "Satin Block Quilt" was also used for the other boys when they were small.

Our "Satin Block" Quilt

When Grandma was in her 70s, I recall her talking about the Senior Citizens' Center. She said, "Now I might go there every once in a while, but I don't have time to go there every day and sit with those old people. I have things to do!" In true character, when she "visited" the Seniors, she often took quilts and other projects to show them what she had made!

After her stroke, she said her hand-quilting was not as good as before, but, "I'm still a good hand at tacking them"! Of course, she continued to make quilts. After her second stroke, she started making twin size quilts for the great-grandchildren. She didn't wait for the great-grandchildren to get married; she started giving them to the children when she had made enough for all the children in each family.

She was all smiles as she presented 3 special quilts to my 3 sons at a family reunion while my boys were still very young. All 3 quilts were different, and each was beautifully made. 

Grandma presents quilts to my boys.

I told the boys that we would "put the quilts up" until they were grown and had families of their own. Occasionally we would look at and sometimes use the quilts, and the boys would argue about which quilt belonged to which boy. Honestly, I was not sure, so the quilts remained folded and tucked away most of the time.

Sometime after we moved to the South, I was looking through some old photos and found a picture of Grandma and the boys, each holding his quilt! Here was finally proof of which quilt belonged to which son! I was so excited as I planned the surprise for that Christmas when the 3 boys would be coming for a visit. By that time, 2 sons were married and 1 was engaged, so this was perfect timing. 

On Christmas morning of that year after the gifts were opened, I told the boys, wives, and fiance that I had something important to tell them. Everyone gathered in the living room as I somewhat tearfully told them about how special it was when Grandma made a quilt. I told them about how she had diligently sewed quilts for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I then presented each son with a copy of the photo of Grandma when she gave them the quilts, and each was then given his special "Grandma Quilt".  

There was lots of laughter and lots of good-natured comments like, "I knew this one was mine!" "Now I have proof!" "Hey, don't take my quilt!", etc. The girls loved the story, as I knew they would. It was such a special Christmas!

The boys decided to sit in the same positions as in the original picture and posed for a new photo.

My 3 sons with their "Grandma Quilts"

Today those quilts are in the boys' homes, and each knows how special the quilts are. Grandma may not be with us physically, but the beautiful memories of the "Grandma Quilts" live on! Just like those quilts warm our bodies, special remembrances of Grandma will forever warm our hearts and enrich our lives.

I love you, Grandma! Thanks for the quilts!


  1. What a nice story, Nancy!
    I also have a quilt made by my grandmother. It's a silk crazy quilt. She made one for each of her three children and eight grandchildren.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Germaine! Handmade quilts made with love hold so many beautiful memories.