On the drive back home on Sunday from spending the weekend in Connecticut with my sisters and their husbands, we stopped in Lowell Massachusetts. Home of the New England Quilt Museum and our favorite Greek restaurant, Athenian Corner. At the Quilt Museum, it was the last day of the exhibit, "Master Pieces" -- Haberdashery Textiles in Antique Quilts "featuring quilts made from menswear, some of it recycled clothing.
". . . this remarkable exhibition brings together over 40 intriguing graphic works made from simple quilts.......Quilts on exhibit are made from suits and shirts, neckties, pajamas, military uniforms, work clothes, even woolen underwear and socks. Some resulted from the artful salvage of menswear swatch sample books and fabric mill remnants. Among the 40-plus quilts on exhibit are several that are made from military textiles, including both uniforms and medal ribbons. Like the Biblical hammering of swords into ploughshares, these quilts represent a transformation of military equipment to peaceable ends, with striking visual results.....Remarkable tributes to those who served, military quilts combine the material aspects of a serviceman's life with the comforts of home, creating works of beauty that transcend their time and the conflicts that gave rise to them."
Among the early quilts on exhibit, were those made of shirting fabric from the first quarter of the twentieth century. My grandmother made such a quilt. She was a factory girl working in the local shop that made Arrow shirts to be were sold to men of fashion around the world. Her job was sewing pockets to the fronts of these shirts.
At the end of a work day, factory girls were offered bags of shirting scraps for pennies. These were used for quilt making at home. My grandmother's sisters turned their scraps into beautiful quilts with intricate designs. Not so my grandmother; she would rather be dancing and she hurried through the task giving short shrift to design and color. Her quilt was very utilitarian. She started it, dropped and finally finished it 1921 when she was pregnant for my father. It is still in the family and treasured by my youngest sister, guardian of the shirting quilt.
So today, I am remembering my paternal grandmother, Madora Bond, born in Massachusetts in September 1896 and who lived most of her life in Leominster, a booming factory town in late 1900s, a prosperous town that lured French Canadian immigrants seeking jobs and a better life for themselves and their families.