Buzzings from a quilter who bumbles her way through life!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Going Green" with Quilting

My grandmother used quilting as a way to "go green". She reused old clothing and other items made of cloth to make new, functional quilts to keep her family warm. During this hot, Texas summer it is hard to imagine needing to keep warm, but we do have some cold days in the winter. During the 1930's and 1940's,when my grandmother was a young woman, times were hard. She had to save money and resources wherever she could. Quilting became not only a necessity, but a recreation. (By the way, she will have her 102 birthday on August 16, 2010!)

I remember sitting with my husband's aunt while she hand pieced colorful diamond patches. She must have been in her early 80's at the time. She would pick up a piece and look at it carefully before sewing it in. "Oh, I remember this piece. It was in Janice's baby dress. She looked so cute in that dress!" (Janice was her daughter, who was by now old enough to be a grandmother herself.) She would pick up another piece. "And this was from Jim's shirt. He wore this shirt out so much, I had a hard time finding a good piece of cloth in it!" The quilt she made became not only a source of warmth, but an album of memories for her and anyone willing to listen.

grits sack
We lived in Georgia for 18 years. One of my wonderful friends  gave up quilting because of her age and physical limitations. She gave me a box of fabric scraps, among other things, that are treasures to me. In it are scraps of fabrics from years and years of sewing and quilting. There are pieces of colorful feed sack fabrics, Depression era greens and pinks, nursery prints from 65 years ago, and even a muslin sack that had held grits (a Southern breakfast staple) along with a note "I bought this so I could make an apron out of the sack."
Below are 2" scraps cut from some of these old fabrics. They will go in a Cathedral Windows quilt. 

close up of some of the fabrics
A few pieces had seams still attached to an edge, so I know they had been part of a garment. Others had areas with pattern pieces cut out. They were scraps from sewing. I can sit for long periods of time and just look through these old fabrics.

This causes me to want to start of "stash" of recycled fabrics. I already have more fabric than I can use in a long, long time, but wouldn't it be nice to have a box full of neatly pressed and cut squares taken from old shirts and dresses? I have some fabric left from when my boys were young and I made their swim trunks out of wild, bright colors. I also have fabric left from making curtains for their rooms. Maybe I could throw in a few notes about special pieces. I may not ever get around to making anything from it, but who knows, maybe my granddaughter will!


  1. Grandmother were always "green" , right?

  2. Welcome, grandmarockton! Yes, they were masters of reusing and repurposing. I hope to be better at that in the future.


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