There are many, many Q.S.O.S. interviews that contain stories of quilts being passed down, through families, and traveling across generations along family lines. But this week’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight features a quilt that traveled around a family in a different way, when it was sold in a family auction and then won again by quiltmaker Judy Baxter-Warrington. Her charming story of a family heirloom and its travels is our Q.S.O.S. spotlight this week:
“This is a quilt that was made by three generations on my mother’s side of the family. Every year for our family reunion, almost every year, I make some form of a quilt to auction off and it helps pay for the reunion expenses, and other things that the family does throughout the year.
This particular one I’d seen in a magazine, and I just fell in love with it, and I decided I would make it for that particular reunion. It was about two thousand and five I believe. I can clarify that when I actually bring the quilt. I worked on it for a long time. It’s got lots of pieces in it. It’s very colorful, but it’s done in eighteen thirties fabrics something that I wanted. I pieced it all and the week before the reunion attempted to quilt it. This quilt is suppose to be queen size but, as most of my projects end up being, it’s closer to a king size. [MM laughs.] So here I am, slinging this big quilt over my shoulder, trying to shove it through the machine, and the machine is giving way to the weight of the quilt. I think I got about six inches attempted to be quilted and decided I was not going to be able to get this one machine quilted. So I said, ‘Okay, I have to come up with another plan here folks.’ I took the quilt with me. I packed it all up and we went to Indiana. On my way there I came up with a plan. I decided rather than just tying the quilt, which is one of the traditional ways of finishing the quilt sandwich, I would tie it with buttons. There are tons of buttons all over this quilt. It’s tied with twill cotton sewn through the buttons. My mother, my daughter, and my granddaughter all helped me work with it. My granddaughter helped pick out the buttons and hand them to us. We were sewing the last buttons on the morning of the reunion.
I had a real trauma because one of my cousins was the successful bidder on the quilt, and I hadn’t even had time to really, as most quilters will know that’s themselves in that quilt, and they need to touch it, and look at it, and show it to other people. I never got that opportunity to do that. We packed it up and drove back to Missouri with it. I didn’t get to see the quilt. It just went bye-bye.
Just to tell a little bit on the side here, he and his then wife, in the following year I believe it was, they divorced. He took custody of the quilt. He brought it back two years ago, 2007, and put it back up for bid. This ornery cousin likes to bid against me at the family reunions. We’re near the same age. Everybody knew that I that I wanted to get my quit back. I had a budget because I didn’t have a lot of money. I had two hundred dollars that I could pay for it, although I knew it was worth a lot more than two hundred dollars. He kept bidding against me, cause he was maybe going to give it to one of his kids who had liked it. I said, ‘No, I wanted to take my quilt home and enjoy it for a little while before,’ maybe, giving it back and into the reunion kitty. At any rate, it hit two hundred and I was gulping, almost in tears. Another cousin, who understands this little game that gets played at the reunions, bid on it for me and bought it for me. [MM gasps.] So, I have it now on my bed at home. I love the quilt, although I’ve had it now for a while. Maybe not this year, but possibly next, I will take it back to reunion, let it travel on to another family to enjoy, now that I’ve had time to really absorb the quilt.”
You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.
Posted by Emma Parker
Project Manager, Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories