As the end of the month of March nears it also marks the end of National Quilt Month. I photographed the quilt that Alexa’s Great Grandmother, Lily Von Schmidt Mitchell Tilden, made a few years before her wedding. She and her friend Tillie Eggers made it in 1883 while living in San Francisco. Whoever married first got to keep it. Lily married Harrison W. Mitchell in 1885. She had two young daughters, Alexine (1886) and Marion (1888), when Harry died of Bright’s disease in 1890. She was not a single mother for long, marrying Charles Lee Tilden in 1892. The Tildens had one more child, a son, Charles Lee Tilden Jr.
This pattern is called ‘crazy quilt’ as it uses a wide variety of fabrics and stitches in random patterns. This quilt was all done by hand and is in remarkable shape for being 133 years old.
I’m spending the day packing for my next quilt retreat, my fourth one. They remind me of the long history of sewing and quilting that exists in so many cultures around the world. We are all bound together by common threads; the camaraderie and friendship that grows strong among women (and sometimes men) who sit together and sew. At last August’s quilt retreat I learned how to make the Annie Arrowhead block and finished the quilt this spring. The fabric was designed and made by Aborigine fabric artists in Australia. The next retreat promises the beginning of a new quilt as well as the renewal of friendships from the past retreats. Women have been doing this for centuries.
Very few quilts still exist from World War I; most were made in 1917 and 1918 and were used in fundraising events for the Red Cross. Most of the ones that do exist are commemorative quilts honoring the soldiers killed in the war.
A book worth reading is Ruth McHaney Danner’s book: Making a World of Difference One Quilt at a Time: Inspiring Stories about Quilters and How They Have Touched Lives. (New World Library, 2015).