New Orleans House Project

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Quilt Memories

 I'm lucky to have several family quilts, although my family disagrees about who made the quilts!

My mom insists the quilts were made by her maternal grandmother, Bertha Juliana Hoffman Sommerfield.  My mom's family lived with Grandmother Sommerfield for many years during her childhood, but she doesn't remember quilting being done during those years.  Mom thinks the quilts were made later, when Grandmother Sommerfield (my great-grandmother) was living on her own.

My mom's sister insists all the quilts were made by their mother, Norma Gerke Sommerfield.  Their mom worked full time most of her life, not retiring until the early 1970s.  

As a child, I was lucky to be able to spend plenty of time with both my great-grandmother and grandmother, but I don't remember either of them sewing, quilting, or even having quilts on display.  OK, I was only two in this picture, but my Great-grandmother Sommerfield was around for many more years.  The lady on the right is another great-grandmother, Myrtle Ludeking Gerke.

All the quilts passed on to me contain mostly feed sack-type fabrics, and use the patterns and colors typical of quilts from the 1930s and 1940s.  I blogged about two of them here and here.

I've always wondered if the quilts were made from kits, as I don't think either grandmother would have had a scrap basket with so many different fabrics.

The remaining two quilts have seen heavy use. 

Yes, this Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt ~is~ that faded!

I had this quilt on my bed during my teenage years, and dragged it off to nursing school when I left home.  It was washed regularly.  Some of the fabrics are beginning to shred, and the binding is coming loose, but otherwise, the quilt is in pretty good shape.

I have always enjoyed examining all the different fabrics in the quilt!

The backing is solid pink.  The long edges of the quilt were turned in following the scallops and slip-stitched; the short edges have applied binding.  The quilt measures approximately 82 inches by 74 inches.  Hand quilted inside each hexagon.

I rescued this Dresden Plate quilt from the back of my dad's truck.  Prior to that, it had spent years on my sister's bed.  

The fabrics are quite faded, and in some cases, shredded.

Regular washing and hanging to dry in the Florida sunshine will definitely fade fabrics over time!

The quilt back is a soft blue and white print.  This one was also hand quilted.  Approximate size: 75 inches by 68 inches.

I love having these tangible memories of my grandmothers, regardless of who made the quilts!


  1. You are so fortunate to have quilting and quilters in your family history even though the details are sketchy. Those softly faded backgrounds are so pretty.

  2. Wow, what beautiful quilts! I really love them both. Like you, I rescued some family quilts (4) that my brother-in-law used as padding when he moved his (and my ex’s) mom from NC to ID to live with us back in 1982. I found them in the garbage can! Two ended up being cutters but I did make my three kids each a panel from one with a pocket and printed story tucked inside. The third one was donated to a local small museum and the fourth one, after serving as a guest room quilt for many years, now resides with my daughter Megan in Washington State.

  3. What memories and what treasures! Have a great week! Hugs

  4. What wonderful quilt treasures and memories. I'm glad youhave them.

  5. I have a few family quilts. I do know who made them (mostly my great grandmother who made lots of quilts). Family quilts are super special.

  6. It is so interesting, the dispute as to who made the quilts. Another reason to label our quilts. They are both so special and I love the fading and wear because it represents use and enjoyment of the quilts. Nothing is prettier than a Grandmother's Flower Garden. I love that you rescued the other one. I have a rescue quilt too that someone in the family was using as a moving blanket, to wrap furniture (!).

  7. These are absolutely priceless - I have several of my grandmothers' quilts (maternal and paternal) and they are lovingly enjoyed.

  8. Oh what a wonderful story and what beautiful quilts. So nice to have such fond memories of grandmothers. I'm so happy that these two are now in your loving hands.

  9. I love the family photos. What a great quilting tradition you have in your family.
    That GFG is wonderful so traditional and loved. The Dresden Plate is lovely too - well worn with love.