Friday, July 13, 2012

The Journey So Far

The Chester Criswell quilt was made for Mary McClellan Criswell for her marriage to Jesse Jackson Smith on 17th November 1852. It took pride of place on the new Mr. and Mrs. Criswell's bed until it became too shabby to use.  The quilt was then folded up and put away in a cupboard.
Mary's youngest daughter Marion inherted the quilt.  A change in the family fortune meant that Marion had to seek employment.  She gained work as a seamstress, moving from household to household making wedding trousseaus.  She used a silver thimble and a small pair of scissors which she left to her daughter, also named Marion, when she died in 1962.
This second Marion had a lovely thimble and scissors of her own so she kept her mother's thimble and scissors safe until she gave them to her granddaughter.
Which is me.

Using Marion's thimble and scissors in my first repro block.
I was a little girl when I was first shown the 'family quilt'.  It was in a cupboard in the garage, next to the ice chest  my grandparents had in their first home.  I wasn't very interested in quilts so I didn't pay much attention.
Fortunately I did become interested in quilts and all sorts of crafts.  My parents moved our family from Ohio to Australia in the early 1970s.  My grandmother brought the quilt with her on one of her visits to Australia because she though I was more interested in it than my cousins.
I decided about eight years ago it was time to make a reproduction quilt before the original totally fell to pieces.  Every year or so I would unwrap it and think, I should really do this. 
What was holding me back?  All that needleturn applique.  I began making quilts for my dolls and now make quilts for my grandchildren.  I have managed to avoid applique almost entirely and now I had to try it. 
I felt that that famous fictional anonymous hero...

And what did I find?  It wasn't so bad after all!  Hand applique was actually quite enjoyable.  There's room for improvement but the result isn't too bad.


  1. l just love the fabric you have chosen for your first block. This is making me want to attempt applique again too! Your right, its just a confidence thing!!

  2. This is a wonderful start in your journey, each block will bring you through a wonderful new world the same I hope that your great relative did. I would be so happy to have an opporunity to see one of my ancestoral quilts if they quilted. I love your first block and so glad that you love applique cause that means you will continue with great enthusiasm.
    From one applique lover

  3. Amazing story. Also love your choice of fabric, enjoy your journey.

  4. Wow, how special to have a quilt like that in your family. Well done with what you have already completed.

  5. Beautiful block, Sharon - you did a great job! I love the story... It's pretty special.
    Cheerio, Kirsten
    Sydney, Australia

  6. oh what a precious heirloom, Sharon! i loved reading your post and to think your great grandmother's quilt has followed you all the way to Australia, that's simply amazing. I'm so pleased that you are reproducing it, even though the thought of all that applique is rather've made a start and i bet you'll end up loving doing applique. Your first applique block is beautiful and i look forward to following your progress. cheers...Marian

  7. Sharon, it is so wonderful for you to share your family's quilt! I'm very excited to stitch along with you, especially because I live in Delaware, just down the road from beautiful Chester County, and I love that this quilt has a history in our local area. Your first block is just lovely and your reproduction quilt will be gorgeous! I don't care how may WIPs I have...this quilt goes to the top of the list! Thank you!


I love your comments and am always happy to respond. If you want an answer, check that your profile settings include 'show my email address'; otherwise I can't send you a message.