Baltimore Red and Green Quilt

Quilt Legacy Christmas

My friendship feature for today is my talented mother. It’s now been 3 years since the family gathered for a Quilt Legacy Christmas where four children, eleven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren were gifted 45 of her quilts. Mother planned to give away her quilts when she turned 80. The celebration had been talked about for years and the time had finally come. We met at Mom & Dad’s home and enjoyed a lovely prime rib dinner together. It’s rare when the whole gang can be together at the farm, so it was a very joyous occasion filled with laughter, anticipation and a bit of craziness. (They graciously bedded down an extra 25 of us for several nights!)

Quilt Legacy to the great grands.

The great grands receive their quilts first. The large stacks of quilts on the hearth are for the grands, and there is a quilt for her four children also.

Mother’s desire to give away her quilts at age 80 was influenced by Nebraska Quilt Hall of Fame inductee, Grace Snyder. Her autobiography “No Time on my Hands” was referred to and quoted by Mother in her quilt classes. Her ladies may have been inspired by Grace’s life and legacy, but I can assure you they were motivated by Janet B and her quilts.

Mom tells her girls that I got her started in quilting. I was quite excited about a quilting class I took shortly after getting married. Mother was an expert seamstress and had sewn all of her life so I suggested she should start quilting.  Within a couple weeks, she found a nine patch sampler class in a nearby city.  She didn’t love it right away. She made a few blocks and set it aside for over a year. Nonetheless, Mother is excellent at finishing projects so she determined to complete it. She pieced this first quilt entirely by hand. The long borders would have taken no time to finish with the sewing machine, but she wanted an authentic pioneer experience. Joining a local quilt club, she learned the joys of hand quilting which she became exquisitely proficient at. Pouring herself into books and projects, she quickly caught the “quilt bug”. It is highly contagious, and many of her friends, family members, and students caught it from her!

Sampler Quilt

Mom’s first quilt is the hand stitched nine patch Sampler Quilt, a gift presented to me at our Quilt Legacy Christmas gathering.

During the next 3.5 decades she completed over 80 quilts, 20 baby quilts, and several hundred wall hangings and small projects. Her sewing room has the feel of a cozy little quilt shop with baskets of patterns and notions, shelves of quilting books, a collection of pin cushions, and cupboards full of fabrics waiting for her creative touch. Inspiring mini quilts hang on the walls. At any given time, there are probably a dozen or more quilted projects in process at various stages waiting their turn to be completed. Who knows how many additional quilts she has envisioned and will complete!

sewing room is where quilts happen

Four generations gathered in her sewing room to talk about some current projects. This great grand and her twin picked out some fabric squares and had a little doll quilt sewn together by the time they got home.

In the course of her learning to quilt, Mother joined several guilds and held offices at local and state levels. Except for a couple of classes, she was self taught. Her enthusiasm and skills grew, and she was asked to give programs, classes and eventually quilt shows. Her programs wove facts, folklore and an occasional poem, as she told the story of each piece. The large stack of wall hangings in her collection would include traditional, patriotic, folk art, whimsical, country living (lots of chicken quilts!), floral, geometric, pieced, and appliqué. Some were embellished with embroidery, charming buttons, ribbons or colored threads. Her examples would stir your imagination and fill you with desire to learn and create. Each piece would include a creative label on the back documenting the year, name of quilt, and other pertinent information in her lovely handwriting. These labels developed into a creative masterpiece themselves with designs that would coordinate with the front of the quilt.

Mountain Melody Quilt Label

Mountain Melody Quilt Label shows her creativity when documenting details of this quilt.


Antique Shoe Fly Quilt Label

The artful Antique Shoe Fly quilt label documents facts with an interesting story of where she acquired the quilt blocks.


The Early Bird Gets the Worm quilt label

The Early Bird Gets the Worm quilt label documents a humorous quilt.

She gave a total of 63 presentations (trunk shows) in four different states. In preparation for a presentation, the car would be completely loaded with quilts, wall hangings, and conduit quilt stands that Dad made to display full size quilts that would be her backdrop.  The furthest she traveled was to  Northwest Arkansas to give a presentation that was filmed by PBS at the historical Headquarters House.

I lived states away, but was able to attend several of her classes, trunk shows, and quilt exhibits. It always makes me proud to see how people respond to her work and her teachings. She is well known and well loved! Women would sign up for her classes before they even knew what she would be teaching to make sure there was space available. Rich friendships were made through these intimate one on one classes. When she retired from teaching at age 80, she was traveling three nights a week for her 3 hour, 10 week classes. She drove nearly 30 miles one way to teach at a community college for these spring and fall classes. When one class would fill up, she would arrange another night. She had a heart to see that anyone who wanted to learn would have the opportunity.  I am so proud of her workmanship, her love of helping others, her organization, her eye for color, and her attention to detail. Her legacy of quilting has been generously shared!

Broderie perse class

Her last class at the college was on broderie perse appliqué. She would limit class size to 10 to make sure each student had their own table space and that she would have time to help them.

There is much to share about this great quilter and her quilt legacy, but let me proceed with her presentations to the family. Our special evening started by gathering the great grands at the fireplace hearth where Mom had dozens of quilts stacked in certain order. As she presented each quilt, she would share the pattern name and story of the quilt. Each child was excited to receive the quilt Grandma Janet had for them. We took a short break and all retreated to the living room for the grandchildren’s turn. As Mother wove her way through the birth order, she displayed each quilt on the stand, shared the quilt story and talked about the quilt label on the back of each quilt. She then shared the significance of why she was sharing it with that grandchild and we documented each quilt with Grandma Janet and the recipient and the quilt alone. There were lots of hugs and tears.  She captivated us through three rotations of the grands as each received 3 legacy quilts. I’ll share photos of the quilts our children received.

Baltimore Red and Green Quilt

The first quilt to be presented was to our firstborn who was the first grandchild. This amazing 1992 Baltimore Red and Green is a treasured heirloom!


Bible Quilt

Janet shares the detailed labels on the back of the 1997 Bible Story Quilt that documenting the story of each block. Our son, AJ was the recipient of this legacy quilt.


1996 Rocky Mountain Spirit Quilt

This pattern was purchased in Estes Park at a quilt shop. We lived in Colorado at the time. Our son Ben was born in Colorado and was the recipient of this detailed colorful quilt.

After each of the eleven grandchildren received a quilt, we took a break for fellowship. This first intermission included a presentation by Dad. He gave a notebook to each child and grandchild that included updated pages to his book “Fun on the Farm”, photos of family, news articles, and family history. He is very interested in family history and has written documents recording the history of our family church, and self published a book of our family history called “Fun on the Farm”.  It was truly a memorable legacy evening.

Legacy Notebook

Dad has passed out legacy notebooks to us and is giving us an overview of contents.


1985 Single Irish Chain Quilt

Alissa received this 1985 Single Irish Chain Quilt is a 9 patch with special settings. I love the shading of fabric sets in this quilt.


1999 Picket Fence Quilt

Our son AJ was the recipient of the 1999 Picket Fence Quilt. Color placement creates a pin wheel which gives interesting movement to this quilt.


1999 Thimbleberries Sampler

Ben received this sampler quilt which features a block representing each month.


1986 Maple Leaf Medallion Quilt

This quilt had humble beginnings as a checkerboard style alternated with plain blocks and 3 borders. Before it was quilted, Mother was inspired by a quilt in a quilters magazine that featured a medallion center. She decided to dismantle her quilt top and redo it. By creating a  medallion and flying geese borders she completely changed the look and made an opportunity for lots of quilting. The revised quilt is very outstanding!


2002 Critters Quilt

AJ received this lap quilt because of his families interest in music and animals.  The quilt states “All God’s critters have a place in the choir!”


2013 Underground Railroad Civil War Quilt

Our son Ben received this 2013 hot off the press, Underground Railroad quilt. It has special significance because he lives near several Civil War sites.

For Christmas presents this year, I made several photo books for our kids. One was a Quilt Legacy Christmas book complete with all of the quilts given away that evening. The memory of the wondrous evening is fresh in my mind.  I continue to marvel at the workmanship of these quilts.  My love for this generous quilter and her historian husband fills me with gratefulness. I’m thankful for my precious parents and the legacy they leave for generations to come.

This legacy runs much deeper than beautiful quilts and family history. They have instilled within us the love of family, a good work ethic, appreciation of a simple life, the joy of serving others and faith in Christ as our personal savior.

I’d love to hear about legacies in your family.

Let us consider the legacy that we will leave behind.

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10 Responses to Quilt Legacy Christmas

  1. Janet Bamesberger January 6, 2017 at 10:39 am #

    Joanne, that is such a heartwarming tribute! Thank you for sharing the story of my quilt legacy wishes for the family. The journey has been long and rewarding, thanks to you, dear daughter! I thank God for the blessing of you!

    • withendlessgrace January 6, 2017 at 7:11 pm #

      Books could be written about you, dear Mother. I have barely scratched the surface of your talents and legacy and am so thankful to be your daughter! Love you!

  2. autumn January 6, 2017 at 10:45 am #

    What priceless gifts! I have a few things (very tattered after many years) my grandma made for me as a child and I cherish them. No quilts, but some way groovy vests I hope will come back in style soon. I hope the wee ones appreciate those quilts! Your mum is very talented. And, since I’ve meet her, I can attest that she’s also hilarious! I guess the nut didn’t fall to far from the tree 🙂

    • withendlessgrace January 6, 2017 at 7:15 pm #

      Thanks for sharing about your grandmother. I can imagine the awesomeness of the groovy vests. I remember when those were popular and probably had some that Mom made me that I didn’t have the foresight to keep! I’m so glad you and Mother met. You are kindred spirits!

  3. Rhonda January 6, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    My first thought was that this is an extraordinary woman! I thought of what it must feel like to be within the circle of her care and of this special family. I thought how special is this quilting mother and grandmother who has brought a dimension to motherhood that is a sight to see. I can imagine how she must inspire you all and make you so proud! I thought of how this wonderful gift that she took hold of has brought so much to so many people over such a span of so many years. So, I was really blessed by this and the easy way in which you told it. SOOO GOOD!

    • withendlessgrace January 6, 2017 at 7:25 pm #

      Rhonda, I have read and reread your meaningful words. Thank you for such kind comments that are very touching. I know you can imagine how well I am cared for because you have a nurturing amazing mother as well. Mother’s love is lavished in many ways. The quilts are a wonderful tangible way she expresses it to us all. I’m glad I made the story look easy to tell. I have wrestled with words for the past week! There is so much to express, I found it challenging to narrow down. 🙂

  4. Gretchen Carlson January 6, 2017 at 6:55 pm #

    Incredible! Janet gave a trunk show to a quilt guild I was a member of in Holdrege, NE. We were in shock and awe of the quilts she brought. What precious gifts she has given to your family! What a sweet Legacy both your mother and father gave you! And yes, the legacy we desire to pass on is joy and faith in Christ. Thank you for sharing this amazing family story.

    • withendlessgrace January 6, 2017 at 7:07 pm #

      I had forgotten that you were able to attend one of her trunk shows. I think that’s so neat that you ran in some of the same circles with her, and frequented some of the same shops! Thanks so much for sharing! Yes, as a quilter you know all the hours it takes to plan and complete a quilt and all the love that is wrapped up inside of each one. I value your sentiments and your heart!

  5. BEV Martin January 11, 2017 at 5:44 am #

    What a lovely family shared story. Thank you

    • withendlessgrace January 11, 2017 at 7:35 am #

      Bev, thanks so much for stopping by. Have a blessed day!

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Ephesians 1:2-23

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