I really like quilts. All quilts. But my particular favorites are antique quilts. And I am fortunate to have a few very special antique quilts that were made by my grandma Schumm, my great-grandma Miller, my mother, and a great-grandaunt.
A couple knowledgeable quilt people have told me one of the best ways to store quilts is to put them on a bed, preferably a spare bed that isn’t used too often. That way they don’t have to be folded or wrapped up in some special material. This method also has the advantage that the quilts are fairly easy to see. You just start pulling back the layers of quilts and you can see them one by one. Which also makes it easy to show your quilt collection to another quilt enthusiast.
Our spare bedroom is furnished with my grandpa Schumm’s old iron bed, a bed perfect for layering my quilts. In fact, I have nine quilts layered on that little bed, and they make the mattress appear quite thick. It seems to be the perfect place to store these family heirlooms.
That is, until we get company.
This weekend is our annual Miller reunion and my cousin will be staying with us over the weekend. I don’t think she would care to sleep under nine quilts, so yesterday I stripped the bed and moved all the quilts into my office.
Stripping the bed yesterday was not a bad job at all and I rather enjoyed it. It gave me a chance to look at and touch those beautiful quilts again. I enjoy studying all the different fabrics used to piece them together and looking at my grandma Schumm’s tiny stitches. I remember when my mom made the double wedding ring quilt. It was the first quilt she ever made and turned out to be quite a challenging project, but it turned out beautiful. My grandma Schumm stitched the small baby quilt for the birth of our son Jeff. What wonderful memories!
The oldest family quilts I have were stitched by my great-grandmother Christena (Rueck) Miller and my great-grandaunt Rosina (Schinnerer) Schumm, before Christena married Jacob Miller in 1882. Christena was staying with the Schumm family at the time, decades before my parents married and the two families came together. Christena loved to quilt, a skill she learned from Rosina Schumm.
I love all of these old quilts. It probably comes as no surprise, but I have collected some other old quilts, too, not family heirlooms, but still beautiful works of art. I think about how these quilts were lovingly made. All the time it took to chose and cut the fabric, piece it together, and quilt it. It seems most women back then enjoyed quilting and sometimes several women worked together to make a quilt. They undoubtedly had some interesting and lively conversations during their quilting sessions. I think about how pretty these colorful quilts would have looked on a bed or hanging on a clothesline to air out in the spring. I think about who may have used these quilts to keep warm in the winter. Some of these quilts were never used but I can tell some of them were used a lot and are worn, tattered, and stained.
I actually don’t mind a worn, stained quilt. I like to think how it was lovingly used by some family many years ago.