Sign quilts for posterity

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A quilt documentation label should include quiltmaker’s name, date, location and occasion for making the quilt. Photo by Barb Gorges.

How to Help Your Quilt Live to 100, Part 16

By Barb Gorges

In the previous 15 columns I have touched on topics relating to quilt construction, care and use that will hopefully help your quilt make it through several generations.

I have one final suggestion for you, a reiteration of my first column: Sign and date your quilt.

Recently, my cousins had to decide what to do with their now deceased parents’ belongings. I made the parents a quilt and so I told my cousins that if there were any quilts they didn’t want, to please send them to me.

I am happy to report that they did keep several quilts, including the one I made, but they shipped two quilts to me.

I was pleased to have quilts that belonged to my aunt and uncle. But neither quilt came with any information. Since neither my aunt nor uncle made quilts, I was left wondering whether one of my ancestors had made them, or my aunt’s. She was related to me by marriage.

One quilt was obviously a Lone Star made by Native Americans and most likely presented to my aunt in the 1950s when she was a public health nurse at the Fort Berthoud reservation in North Dakota.

But the other is a scrap quilt with no name, no date—and it needs repairing. If my aunt’s mother made it, I could save it for my cousins’ kids. But more likely, the day my children deal with my quilt-making legacy, that quilt will end up on the discard pile, or as a dog’s blanket since it is one of those homely scrap quilts only a direct descendant or quilt historian could love.

Even if your quilts aren’t getting passed down through your family, your name on the quilt you made will make it more likely it will be taken care of. The less anonymous the quiltmaker is, the better.

The more information you provide on a label on the back, or embroider somewhere, the better. Include your name, date, location and occasion for making the quilt. It will make it more likely your quilt will be cherished, even 100 years from now.

This is the last of a 16-part series available at http://www.GorgesQuiltLabels.com.

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