December 20, 2016

Heirloom Quilt with Family Photos and Some Flashy Peacocks

One of my favorite parts of the quilt repair biz is when someone brings a family heirloom quilt and shares the story and occasionally even photos of the quiltmaker.  More often, people tell me sadly that none of their offspring care very much about "old things" or the family history.  But here's a quilt brought to me by a young woman who is very, very much in love with the family story.  Warms my heart!

Here is her story of the quilt and the quilter. 

Attached are photos of my Manx great-grandma. The first one is from just before she left the Isle of Man, she is in her early 20’s. The second photo was from the early 60’s.


Eleanor Jane Cleator was born in the Isle of Man on August 11, 1891. She was known by family and friends as Janie.

She migrated to the United Sates in 1915. Upon arriving she married her sweetheart from the Isle of Man. They settled in Kansas.

She was a woman of her times. Doing all a housewife and mother did. She raised 2 children, tended the family vegetable garden, raised chickens, tended house, cooked everything from scratch and more.

When the cooking and cleaning were done there was no rest for her. She spent her evenings quilting, knitting, sewing, doing embroidery and crocheting. Everything was practical. Quilts were made from old worn out clothing. Sweaters, hats, mittens and such were not bought but knitted. And the home was decorated with furniture made by her husband and decorated with embroidered fabric and crochet doilies and tablecloths made by Janie.

I am not sure where she learned her crafts. Her mother died when she was 8 and a few years later she had a step mother. So perhaps it was mainly the stepmother that taught her and, of course, necessity. Janie’s only daughter and my grandmother only learned to knit, but never with the skill that her mother had.

I never got to met her. She died when I was one. I currently own many items made by her including a quilt, 2 button down sweaters, 3 embroidered and  framed images of flowers, some crocheted items, and a stool that was made by my great-grandfather with an embroidered cover made by Janie.

And about the quilt itself:

I found the name of the pattern, Pointed Tile, in Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.  It's kind of fun, because it's not an actual block.  It's an overall pattern made up of squares and what might be called house-shaped pieces. 

The fabrics are a really nice collection of 1950s and 1960s prints.  I'll start with my favorite - these great peacocks and roses on a flashy magenta background.

In the rest of these photos, you'll see such 1950s color combinations as salmon pink-olive green-grey and the prints with repeating square medallions which I always call men's pajama prints.

Big thanks to this lovely young woman for taking the time to send the family story and sweet photos of her great-grandma and letting me share it all with you!

Here's another quilt I repaired, a c.1890 crib quilt, with the story and family photos supplied by the quilt's current owner.


  1. Hi Ann, I love the colors in this quilt. I also have a good pointed tiles quilt and a good story. My grandma left a finished quilt top she had made in her closet when she died. It is in the pointed tiles pattern. She had never mentioned having it. I was the only one who wanted it, but I really wanted it! But, I had it for years without doing anything with it.

    Finally I got a frame and have spent the last year or so quilting it. I am on the last border now. The fabrics include some leftover from dresses Grandma made for my sister and me, when I was ten and eleven, the year she and Grandpa lived with us during my parents' divorce and the year of Dad's remarriage.

    A lot of the patchwork was done by hand. I looked everywhere for the name of this pattern (not really knowing where to look) before I found it in Barbara Brachman's book.

    This is only the second quilt I have hand-quilted so my quilting is not that great. The stitches are not perfect, but I am trying. Poly bat on the first quilt was a lot easier to quilt. This time I think I used an 80/20 blend. I had bought Warm and Natural but I think that might be best for machine quilting or tying. It was very hard to quilt by hand, so I had to switch it out early on.

    Maybe I can send a photograph when I finish it. Thanks!

    Grandma usually used a blanket for a filler and tied her quilts. She had arthritis in her hands.

    When I was six, my grandma and great-grandma taught me basic patchwork and embroidery stitches. Dresden plate and the double wedding ring quilt were some of my favorite quilts on their beds.

    1. Hi, Christie! Sorry, but I just discovered your lovely comment. Apparently, I'm no longer getting the email notices of comments coming in...

      Anyhow, thanks so much for sending your story! Yes, I'd love to see a photo of the quilt. In fact, if it's ok with you, we can make this all into another post. We can use the story as you sent here, or add more if you like. And it could include family photos if you have some to share. Just let me know. It's a lovely thing to have a quilt span the generations. :-)

  2. Hi Ann, thanks so much for offering to make a post about my grandma's quilt. We lost touch; it's great we've reconnected. I did write about Grandma's quilt at my author's blog. There is one picture of it there.

    Unlike the lovely quilt you show here, Grandma did not use plain contrasting pieces in a patterned way. And, because her quilt top was stored in a dark closet, her "new fabric" scraps stayed bright.

    There are three pieces to the pattern: the plain square that, finished, measures, say, 2 l/2," the pointed piece: a 2 l/2" "square" with the 45 degree "triangle" (2 l/2" base) on one side, like a little house with a pointed roof, and a longer, narrower piece that fills in the space at the edge of the quilt. This piece is 3 l/2" on the short side and 6 l/2" where it connects with the quilt's outer edge, with 45 degree angled sides. These are finished measurements--I don't have the templates.

    I think it would be fun to try to make one of these quilts, only I'm not sure what would be the best way to put it together, since it's not set in blocks and rows. Thanks so much, Ann, for your interest.

  3. Also, Ann, there are two corner pieces to this pattern. On the left side of the corner, the piece is 1 3/4" on top, straight down on the right, and 45 degree angle to 3 3/4" on the left to the bottom piece which is 3 3/4". On the right side of the corner, the piece is 2 3/4" on top, straight down on the left, angling down on the right at 45 degrees to 4 l/4" on the bottom. Both are 1" high. These are all finished sizes without seam allowance. It is harder to measure sizes in a finished quilt, and there is some variation, of course. Before, when I said the square was 2 l/2", well, it did sometimes measure 2 l/4" or 2 3/8". Similarly, the side pieces sometimes measured as small as 3" on top, 5 3/4" on the bottom. Grandma may have needed to make adjustments along the quilt's edge.