Grandma Elsa’s House Dress Quilt

When Grandma Elsa Laemmlen died in June 1988, the family members came to the home to find treasures to remember her by.  According to my dad, what wasn’t taken was put in the yard for anyone to pick from before things were taken to good will or thrown away.

In that pile, Dad found this quilt top and he saved it for me.  It’s made from fabric Grandma used to make 3 of her house dresses.  Grandma made most of her clothing, even her underwear.  Her dresses were simple and practical.  She almost always pinned the bib of an apron to her dress at the top and tied the apron in the back.  They always had pockets in the front and they were often worn and faded.

Grandma was a quilter.  For years, she went to her Mennonite quilt group every Thursday where she and her friends sat around quilt frames visiting and quilting.  She also did handwork and quilting at home and I remember watching her work on her projects.  Her sewing machine was set up in the front office near the entry to her home.

Grandma made a quilt for each of her grandchildren, given at our high school graduations.  Most of these quilts had flowers or tulips or Sun Bonnet Sues.  This house dress quilt top was something different.  This looks like a utilitarian quilt, perhaps made for a bed or perhaps to keep in the car.  This quilt was patched from dress scraps and different pieces of muslin that didn’t match.

Grandma marked with pencil how she wanted to quilt this quilt.

These are the 3 fabrics from her dresses:

I decided this year to finish this quilt and gift it to my brother, Eric, who, for some reason, never got a quilt from Grandma.  I prepared the top for quilting, which was a little tricky because it wasn’t very flat, but my quilting friend, Penny Stephenson worked her magic and painstakingly followed every pencil line and pattern Grandma had outlined.

After binding the edges, the quilt looked great!  It now has new life and will be loved and used.  I think Grandma would be happy.

Here’s Eric with his Grandma Elsa Quilt!

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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