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What to do with and where to donate Grandmother's quilting supplies and unfinished quilts...

by Sandy
(Central California USA)

Sandy writes...

I'm almost 70 yrs.old, my hands are not much use any more to do any handwork (sob).

Have been cleaning out 'the storage shed' and have come across all sorts of material and partial quilt tops that my very talented grandmother had. I hate to just toss it all and hoped you all could advise a practical distribution of the items.

I realize quilts aren't constructed these days as of old. Grandma totally designed, made the patterns, her quilting frame and did meticulous hand stitching throughout.

Would appreciate any advice.

Julie replies...

Hi Sandy.

In response to your question about your Grandmother's quilting supplies...

While it is sad to look that projects that were started, but never finished, know that your Grandmother derived oodles of enjoyment from her stitching.

I suspect that her quilting, like for all other quilters, provided a place for her to think about things that needed thinking-on and a respite from the day-to-day craziness that all women deal with.

Quilting is something that stays done, unlike housework and laundry. It provides a mental vacation when there's not enough $$ in the bank or time on the clock for a real one.

Trudy Wasson, my Mom!
Several years ago, when my Mother died unexpectedly (from a stroke) and much too soon at 71, my Dad was bereft at all the fabric and projects that she never got to.

While I was devastated after she died and still miss her terribly (I don't think that ever goes away) I was comforted by all that she was able to create in such a short life (and man did she do a lot!). I was there for a lot of the planning and shopping and dreaming.

I know how jazzed she was about the projects she anticipating doing.

Wouldn't it be saddest if all the projects had been completed???...that there was no more to look forward to?

So now it comes to finding a good home for what she loved.

My suggestions are...

Contact a guild in your area. I've guilds listed by state here on the website, click here to find them. Currently, I've got over 1600 listed—from several other countries, too. Contact them directly through the URL, email or phone number listed under the organization's name.

Most guilds have favorite charities that they make items for. Extra supplies are always welcome.

And if the guild is local to you, then there's no need to mess with boxing things up for shipping and lugging everything to the Post Office. Fabric gets pretty heavy to ship!

The other place to look is your local churches. Again, there is usually a member group who works on projects. There are never enough supplies or fabric to meet the need.

Contact these groups and I'm sure you will find a good home for your Grandmother's treasure.

And finally, if she had tops that need quilting and you have no family members that are interested, you might consider selling them on ebay. There are many quilters who spend their hours lovingly finishing tops that others have created. Tim Latimer is one such guy. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to see the love and workmanship that he lavishes on old tops that luckily found their way into his possession.

He's not alone, there are many others who do this too! And they are always watching ebay for tops.

As for my mother's stash...

The unfinished projects I kept. I filled in my notions and tools supplies where I needed to.

The fabric and remaining supplies and books were sold through the Vesterheim Museam in Decorah, Iowa where my dad relocated. The proceeds from the sale helped the museum purchase computers for a new interactive exhibit. Mom was also a Gold Medal Rosemaler (a Norwegian form of decorative oil painting) and a Museum member.

I know that she'd be pleased with how her treasure was dispersed.

Sandy, I hope this has helped.

To my readers, how have you re-homed quilting treasures—quilts, tops, fabric and supplies—from friends and family who have passed on?

Please do share your experiences so that your fellow quilters may benefit. I appreciate your contributions to the conversation. Thank you!


Julie Baird

Comments for What to do with and where to donate Grandmother's quilting supplies and unfinished quilts...

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completed Quilt
by: Denise Stagner

I have a quilt that my husbands late Grandmother sewn by hand its fully completed, I have been trying to find a place to donate it. It was done in aprox. 1922.. If you guys know of some place to do this. Please contact me at I have checked with the Quilters Guild in Cape Coral. No luck


Grandma's Flower Garden
by: Mary in Kansas

I don't remember my grandmother--she died when I was 10 months old.

Two years ago, while visiting my mother's youngest sister in Arizona, she gave me a trunk filled with material including many blocks and shapes of fabric Grandma cut and pieced in the 1930's-1950's.

Instead of finishing one quilt, I sent a flower garden block to each of my 25 cousins (or their wives). If they were quilters or sewers, I included some vintage material as well.

For my living brother and sister I framed a block with a photo of them and Grandma below.

For my aunt, I made 2 pillows using bright flower blocks to cheer her last months.

It gave me pleasure to share and I think Grandma would have approved!

I still have some unfinished Dresden plates or fans that I plan to use in a quilt guild challenge (finishing a UFO project by our Jan. 2017 meeting here in Kansas).

From Julie...

Mary, you are indeed an angel. Your family is lucky to have you. I believe your Grandma would be proud! {{{Hugs to you!}}}

Thank you
by: Sandy

Thank you so much Julie for your guidance concerning 'grandma's quilts'. I did check out Tim Latimer's website and a quilt like my grandma started is featured (the one that prompted my search).

We have just about finished "cleaning out the shed" project and have unearthed 3 finished quilts, 4 quilt tops or is it five(?) 2 with backing included (bugs seem to like the batting we found :( had to toss those). 2 of the 'crazy quilts, Tim featured, are started and boxed up with material being used on them and 2 others-squares are done mostly just some finishing on some of the squares and assemble. Another started, pieces cut out a few squares started (handy, in order to know what the outcome is to be).

I dearly wish I could tackle some of these.

I also have her patterns she designed and cut out—totally amazed how precise they all are. One would be tempted to believe they were machine cut especially the stack of butterflies she cut out. But I know better, they were all done by her hand.

It has been a treat to unearth theses many wonders that I don't have any recollection of and finding the ones I do remember once again.

I will also contact a group near here concerning some of these and the myriad of scraps I have. Thank you once again for responding to my inquiry. It definitely is a big help.


Grandmother's Quilts
by: Elaine DeFoor

My daughter inherited 3 unfinished quilts (all hand-pieced)from her husband's family.

I had a friend who belonged to her church quilting group. They quilted all three for her. She gave one to the church for their annual raffle, she gave one to my friend, kept one for herself plus gave the group some money although they did not want any. It was a win-win.

Any quilter would love to have the supplies. It is a nice surprise and a wonderful gift to find these.

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