2006-06-20

I think being "crafty" runs in the family

Last year when I went home to EP for spring break, i set about on a personal project to find and document all of the quilts my great grandmother had made. With the help of my grandma, mom, aunts and cousins, I was able to photograph 9 quilts made by Theresa Gleiter (my mother's maternal grandmother), and one made by Frances Kampner, my maternal grandmother. The photos are in a gallery over at fotopic:

Quilts by Theresa Gleiter

After I returned to Fall River and went back to work, life got hectic and that project, like so many others, got pushed to the side. Now that I have a quilting blog, i thought i'd put all my links in one place, and spend a little more time reflecting on the quilters in my family that came before me.

Apparently, it was Grandma Kampner that started quilting, and her mother picked up the hobby after that. Grandma K. made 3 quilts-- one with ice cream cones that they took to the beach (!!!) when the kids were young, and two that she made for presents. I don't know much about the second, but the third is a blue and white drunkards path, all pieced and quilted by hand. I have always loved the drunkard's path pattern, and was quite moved to find out that that was the pattern Grandma had chosen. She gave it to a friend of my aunt, who was not at all excited about my quilt documenting project and very wary to let me see/touch the quilt. I think she was scared that I would ask to keep it.

I don't know what year Grandma Gleiter started quilting, or which quilts she made first. I know that she made many more than the 9 I was able to photograph on my ten day trip-- people told me about the others, and I remembered seeing some myself as a child. None of the quilts I saw were signed or dated. The techniques used varied greatly from one quilt to the next. Some were hand pieced, some machine. Most were hand quilted, but some still had the quilting lines drawn on in pen. Her binding/finishing techniques were... interesting. I think only one of the quilts had bias binding. There are many detailed pictures in the photo album if you're curious.
Each of her 8 grandchildren received a quilt for their wedding. My aunts told me that they got to choose, leading me to believe that she had several quilts finished and waiting for them. Her grandchildren got married between 1975-1985 (i think). This is what I know about the wedding quilts:
Uncle Tony- got married last; I photographed this strange, simple tied quilt with a lone Sunbonnet Sue in the center. Grama K. was sure that the quilt they showed me couldn't have been the wedding quilt, but without further investigation, i can't know for sure.
Aunt Peggy- got married first; hers is a Cathedral Windows quilt that I remember from my childhood, but I did not get a chance to photograph it yet.
Uncle Paul -his wife chose the quilt when they got married and took it with her when they got divorced. I don't have any pictures, and sadly I don't have any information about it either.
Aunt Chris-One of two nearly identical scrap quilts (my mom has the other). I took a lot of pictures.
Aunt Nancy-A yellow and purple floral applique. I have vivid memories of it from the hours I spent at her house as a kid. Though she still has it, I wasn't able to get any pictures.
Aunt Ellen-a fabulous log cabin with bold reds and browns. I got some amazing pictures.
Aunt Donna-a pattern done all in squares, on point, with jagged edges. Lots of pictures.
Patti (my mom)-the other scrap quilt. Man this quilt is gorgeous. My parents were afraid to use it because we have always had multiple pets, so it is in near-perfect condition. I didn't get enough close-ups, but it's my mom's quilt, i can see it again whenever i want.

The other quilts were everyday quilts, some made in pairs to go on twin beds in shared rooms (please notice that this family had 6 daughters). Aunt Donna has a yellow one with Sunbonnet Sue and she says there was a matching one. My cousin Adrienne has a fantastic fan quilt (that I probably got the best photos of) and says her sister has a nearly identical one. Grandma K. had one in the closet that wasn't really a quilt at all, but a two-sided patchwork duvet cover to go over an electric blanket. I still haven't been able to figure out how Grama Gleiter pieced that pattern. have a look and see if you know how she did it. The quilt that I have of hers is in pretty bad shape. I found it when I was in high school-- my grandpa had been using it to cover some old furniture in the garage. Of course my heart broke to see it like that, and I asked if I could have it. I washed it and tried to repair the patches that had worn away, but when I look at it now, I see my 15-year-old-stitches weren't doing much in the way to "help." I have decided just to leave it as is and just be gentle.

The pictures in the photo album aren't all labeled, but I promise to keep working on that. At least I have most of the story recorded here.

Theresa Gleiter passed away when I was 10. There are so many things I wish I could have asked her in person... I wonder what she thinks of my quilting.

Here she is on the right in the patterned dress. I don't know who the other woman is or when the photo was taken. I better ask my grandma..

1 comment:

Lexi said...

Hi Darling,

I had no idea that quilting ran in your family! Those are some very nifty quilts and your foremothers were very prolific!

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