Saturday, July 8, 2017

Quilters... Through The Generations

I am beginning a new series on Melva Loves Scraps that will feature families that quilt.  I'm not sure of the frequency of this series or the length of the series... But I am super excited about it!

I hope that you will find it as interesting as I do.  Heritage is so important and sharing the stories of quilters and the quilts they made are important as well.

The whole idea started because I have a vintage quilt sitting in my cedar chest downstairs that I know was made by a Great-Grandmother but that is all I know. (I think...  I guess I don't really know.)

It is a simple scrappy quilt (one of my favorite!) made up of 4-inch squares and tied at the corners...

I have heard stories of my Grandma and Great-Grandmothers being quilters but didn't know much in the way of details of their lives or the quilts that they made.  So I reached out to a few of my cousins and asked for their help.  This is where the idea for a series came about.


To kick off this series I have answered a few questions that I shared with my Mom and cousins...

Name -   Melva Nolan

Have YOU ever made a quilt?    Yes - lots! My mom taught me to sew while in 4-H but I started quilting as an adult.

If so, who got you started quilting?  My friend Diana invited me to a “Block of the month” club in 2002 and I was hooked.

Tell me a story about your first quilt. 

My very first quilt was completed in 1993 – I has cross-stitched blocks of a wild rose arranged in a checker board pattern.  I really had no idea what I was doing when I quilted it – turns out I did a “quilt as you go” kind of thing by creating sandwiches with the blocks, batting and some interfacing and then assembled the blocks together.  I then made a backing that was stitched into place at the seams along the borders and at the binding. I managed to fumble my way through... 
It was on our bed for years – until I finished my first BOM quilt in 2003.  It now resides in my cedar chest next to the vintage quilt that I referred to above. :)

Does your mother quilt? What is her name?  
Yes, Mom (Carol Schleich) has made several quilts.  After the first year of me doing the Block of the month thing I invited her along the next year. 

This is one of the quilts we made together for the Walk to Remember Alzheimer event in my Dad’s honor…

Over the years she has told me a story of  her childhood and helping her Grandma and friends do some hand quilting.  She felt pretty good and had been encouraged by her Grandma and the other ladies.  After leaving the house and returning shortly afterward because she had left something behind, she walked in to see her Grandma picking out her stitches.  Ooops!

How about a grand-mother?    
I believe my maternal Grandma (Tressie) Teegarden did make some quilt tops that Mom later had quilted by a group of quilters in La Junta, CO.  She used the applique technique.  
(Come back to see pictures when I feature my Mom - Carol Schleich)

My paternal Grandma (Katherine - Katy) Schleich passed away a few years before I was born, but years later I ended up with some signature blocks from a collection of “stuff” that was passed onto me when her daughter, (my aunt) Clara Wirth passed away.  I cherished those blocks, patterns, crochet thread and fabric.  All of the names embroidered on the blocks were familiar to me having grown up hearing stories of these families told by Dad and his siblings as well as my Grandpa Schleich.  There was not a block with her signature so I pulled out a copy of her citizenship certificate, traced her signature onto a piece of fabric and embroidered it.  Using some of the vintage 1930’s fabric from her collection I completed a block featuring her name.  I then arranged the blocks (of inconsistent sizes due to varying seam allowances) onto a larger piece of fabric and appliqued them.  I gave the small quilt to my Dad.  Mom still has it and eventually, when I end up with it again, I may pull the blocks off and do something different with them, though I don't really know what...  
(Again, come back to see pics... )

Sadly, there are no descendants of the families whose name appear on the blocks in the community.

The BOM club that I got started in featured 1930's reproduction fabrics.  I pulled out my Grandma Schleich’s vintage collection of fabric and made a block using her fabric as well.  So by the end of the year I had two sets of blocks.  

These monthly gatherings were during the same year that my Grandma Teegarden had been moved back to Trinidad.  Each month I would make the blocks and then visit with her and show her the blocks.  We discussed colors, patterns and prints and some of her memories of growing up in Trinidad and being a young lady in that era.

These quilts hold some very special memories of our time together…  I called the quilts “Getting to know Grandma” (I and II) because as I spent time with Grandma T I also felt a special connection with my Grandma S through her fabric.

Have YOU taught someone to quilt?   
I have helped both of my girls make quilts...  

Heather has made several baby quilts for friends and has one work-in-progress of her collection of CSU-Pueblo t-shirts. (It has been moved to the "on hold" pile since becoming a Mommy...) 

Rebecca made one quilt – in 2009.  She had a difficult time getting the blocks to be uniform in size and got frustrated with it and was ready to call it quits.  I jumped in and encouraged her to finish, helped her to find the smallest blocks and then either trimmed the other blocks down or picked out a few stitches and made some adjustments.  I’m pretty sure she has done very little quilting since then.

I also taught a good friend how to do a “Quilt In A Day”.  We made a throw size or crib sized quilt using the quilt-as-you-go technique in 2006.  She continues to make these sorts of quilts as quick gifts for church members welcoming a new baby to their family.

Watch for future stories featuring Quilters... Through The Generations.  In fact, I have added a tab at the top of my blog where I will link directly to each Through the Generations post.

Are there generations of quilters in your family? Let me know!  I would be happy to work with you and your family to help document the stories of your family's quilts and quilters.

Happy Quilting!


See what other quilters are talking about at QuilterBlogs


  1. Very nice idea to document quilters in the family. I come from a long line of quilters: my maternal and paternal grandmothers were quilters, my mom is a quilter who taught me, and now my daughter also quilts. Even my mother-in-law is a quilter. My husband has been surrounded by fabric for years! Regarding your first quilt: WOW! It turned out spectacular!! Nice job, Melva!

    1. Thank you do much Karen. Would you like to be part of this series? I'd love to see some of your family's quilts and hear a story or two about them. Blessings.

  2. This is a great series and I'm so glad to read a bit more about you. Your quilts are always inspiring!