The Family Quilt

With October upon us, temperatures are dropping and the leaves are turning in most parts of the country. Perhaps tucked away somewhere lies a family quilt or a knitted and crocheted blanket, made by your relatives from a bygone era.

~ Family History ~
Family Quilt by Family Tree Video

It’s hard to believe that women (and some men) used to have the dexterity and patience to turn one single string of yarn or knot of thread into a king-sized piece of work. For hours, days, weeks and even months, these family projects remained stashed away in baskets or trunks until their grand debuts just in time for the winter months.

Couples received them for wedding gifts. They swathed newborns in one-of-a-kind piecework that the future adult could always look back fondly on. Whether knitted, crocheted, or sewn on a sewing machine, a family quilt used to be among the greatest gifts of time, love, work and talent that one relative could give to another.

Committing to a family quilt may be one of the most enduring and interactive projects a family can do. It not only celebrates their connections, it also creates a functional piece of artwork to be treasured for perhaps centuries to come.

Quilting Tips

Here are a few tips to bring these beloved treasures back to your family this Fall:

  1. Find out if a quilt already exists in your family. Chances are, it may need some work if it has been holed up in a closet or attic for years.
  2. Determine how you want to preserve your family quilt or if you want to use as your own personal vintage piece. Throw the quilt over your favorite sofa to serve as a conversation piece. Present an expectant couple with a gift to bestow on a newborn child. Or, find an appropriate box to store your treasure in.
  3. If a family quilt doesn’t exist now, create one! For ideas, consider a grandparent’s favorite colors or a certain design to replicate from a beloved and oft-visited home. Sketch out the design. Determine the size. Count how many portions you will need. Appoint a few relatives to put it all together.
  4. The tools you will need to craft a family quilt are:
    • Fabrics: these are the pieces of the quilt that will be parceled out to relatives to make their own sections, add specialized borders or stitching to, and perhaps even initialize. You can go for an eclectic mix of fabrics to create a nice contrast and highly-textured feel, or you can stick to one type of fabric for overall coherence and simplicity.
    • Your “pattern”: this is the architecture of your quilt and the map for how all pieces will fit. You can purchase these from most fabric stores.
    • Your quilting “frame”: this is the foundation fabric on which to sew your quilt tops and bottom, for extra warmth and ease of handling.
    • A quilt “block”: the measuring tool to insure that all pieces of the quilt are the same size, or are pre-determined in enough number to fit a frame.
    • Your “back”: this is a larger piece of fabric than both the frame and what the top collection of quilt pieces will eventually be, in order to bind the edges together and provide extra durability.
    • Sewing pins or safety pins: these standard sewing tools keep all finished pieces in place until the rest are ready and allow you to try out different arrangements before committing to just one.
    • Needles or a sewing machine: old-fashioned hand stitching is certainly favorable for a family project such as this, and it would be remembered that relatives actually took the time to sew each collected quilt section onto the top of the frame. But, it can be painstaking and impractical for busier families. A sewing machine would work just as well, save time and perhaps be more precise than a novice embroiderer’s hands.
  5. An occasion to display your family quilt: perhaps an anniversary, holiday, christening, wedding or birthday. Plan far ahead. Family quilts are long labors of love that may take months to coordinate fully and craft precisely.
  6. A planned schedule or rotation of ownership, or clear dedication of the family quilt to one single family or family member. Once this beautiful project is finished, who knows how many relatives will try to get their hands on it!

Whether creating your own or displaying one lovingly made by your ancestors, a family quilt is a celebration of your family story.


For questions to ask your parents or grandparents to learn more about their life story, check out my post: ‘Life Story Interview Questions’.

Family Tree Video

Give your parent or grandparent the gift of a lifetime by capturing their life story in a Legacy Video!

Legacy Videos by Family Tree Video

Here at Family Tree Video we produce Legacy Videos, modern-day memoirs that weave a filmed interview with a parent or grandparent together with family photos, documents, maps and other memorabilia. The result is a beautiful “Moving Portrait” capturing your loved one as they recount their life story, family history and memories – a gift your family will treasure for generations to come.

To learn more about giving the gift of a Legacy Video, visit us at

Family Tree Video LLC
Legacy Video Production
(312) 402-6406

Susan Saunders
Legacy Videos Producer

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One is roots, and the other, wings.” — H. S. Carter

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Family Quilt

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