Does Your 5 Year Old Girl Still Where Toddler Clothes Quilts Are Very Much Alive

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Quilts Are Very Much Alive

My grandmother lived during the Great Depression. We loved hearing her reminisce about the hard times, but we were always in awe of the love her dad gave to his 5 children. My great-grandfather lost his wife (my great-grandmother) two weeks after the birth of their youngest child to scarlet fever. The grandfather was left with 5 foster children aged from 2 weeks to 7 years. My grandmother was the second to the oldest and only daughter. I can still hear her telling us how they were quarantined during their mother’s funeral because of scarlet fever in their home and watched from the living room window as their mother’s casket passed in the funeral procession on its way to the cemetery.

My great grandfather never remarried. My grandmother, being the only daughter, did much of the housework. If the children ever dared to complain about school, she would gently remind us how lucky they were to go to school. She cried when her dad needed her at home in her sophomore year of high school and she couldn’t go to school anymore.

Times were lean during the Great Depression, so frugality and saving and repurposing everything possible was a way of life. Today, people still like to save money and reduce waste with clever DIY projects, but in those days, do-it-yourself wasn’t a trend; it was a necessity.

In these hard times, if women wanted to provide for their families, they had to get creative, especially when it came to clothing.

20th century In the 1930s, flour sacks had colorful patterns so women could make dresses. Innovative and desperate women often emptied the sacks and used the fabric to make clothes. When flour manufacturers noticed that women were turning their sacks of flour into clothes, diapers, dishcloths and other things, they started wrapping the flour in pretty patterns. And it wasn’t just the kids. Women also made dresses for themselves from bags. Whether she was in the kitchen or helping grandpa outside, my grandma wore these dresses that she sewed out of food sacks!

When the clothing finally wore out, my grandmother would pass it down from older sibling to younger, cut up the salvageable pieces, and make quilts. Every square has stories and memories. My mother can still look at some quilt pieces and see her mother wearing that particular dress, or recognize quilt pieces from an outfit she wore as a child.

There are many ways to keep your ancestors alive. Pictures speak volumes, stories, especially when recorded in the voice of an ancestor, are treasures, videos are invaluable, and many other ways. However, what speaks to me every night is the quilt that covers my bed with warmth and memories in each lovingly stitched square. Some wonderful bedtime stories are told to grandchildren as they too wallow in their grandmother’s handiwork.

My grandmother passed away in 2012 – on the first day of spring to be exact. It was a beautiful bright day in Ghent, Minnesota when we gathered around her grave site. The funeral home display was lined with Grandma’s handmade jars of home-preserved fruits and vegetables on a table covered with one of her treasured quilts. A tribute to her life of giving and sharing.

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