Quilting Gallery Blog

The Legacy Lives On – Six Generations of Quilters

Hi – I am Mary Anne Ciccotelli and I live in Pelham New York (20 miles north of New York City). I was born and raised in a small Idaho farming community. I became a "true" quilter in 2000. At that time when people would ask me how long I had been quilting I would get really nervous and not know exactly how to answer this question. Then I realized that I could not remember when I started quilting because I cannot remember when quilting had not been a part of my life. In fact, this past summer we celebrate my 50 1/2 Birthday by hanging a lot of my quilts and while preparing for this big event I discovered that I had made at least one quilt in each of the decades of my life.

I am privileged to have six generations of quilts in my home. I love sharing my quilting legacy story. Check here for a brochure. [PDF file]

Six-Generations-of-Quilters

Here is a little about the quilters in my quilting legacy:

1st Generation – My Grandma

The oldest quilt or piece of a quilt I have is this framed piece of a Double Wedding Ring quilt made by my great-grandmother for my mother as a wedding gift. My mother was storing her quilt on the top shelf of her closet. The closet had a ceiling light and the quilt got pushed up against the bulb and started to burn and turned into a swiss cheese double wedding quilt. When my niece was a teenager, she took what was left of this quilt and had pieces of it framed for each of my family members. I am kind of glad that this happened, because I am the youngest of three girls and I would have never been in line to inherit this quilt.

2nd Generation – My Grandma

Each granddaughter had a quilt in her trousseau made by my Grandma. This is the quilt that she made for me. What I really remember about my Grandma is the stale cookies that she always had in her cookie jar. I am so thankful that I have this quilt as a tangible memory of her and her workmanship.

3rd Generation – My Mother

My mother taught me to sew at a young age. I remember spending many afternoons playing under the quilting frames while she and neighborhood women quilted the hours away. Following the example of her grandmother and mother, my mother has made a quilt (or quilt top) for each of her granddaughters for their wedding. Later in her life she used all the double knit polyester to make nine-patch block quilts. She loved to make a tied flannel baby quilt for family members or friends’ new baby.

4th Generation – Me

My sister and I decided that it would be really neat to make a special quilt for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. We sent each of the family members a plain piece of fabric with instructions to decorate it however they wanted. The completed blocks were sent back to me. I then pieced all the blocks together. At the time, I was a single parent and working full time. There was no way I was going to have the time to hand-quilt it. So I purchased a book about machine quilting and a whole new realm of possibilities began to open up to me. This is the first quilt that I machine quilted.

Since that first machine quilted quilt in 1992 I have practiced and practiced to improve my machine quilting skills. In 2000 after discovering that you can do more than blocks and sashing and have never looked back. I love using all different kinds of embellishment to give the quilt the finishing touches that it needs. I also love to make folded hexagons. I am always looking for innovative projects to use folded hexagons on. Visit my website to see many of these projects that I have designed.

I also offer a tutorial on The Needle and Thread Approach to the Folded Hexagon [PDF file].

5th Generation – My Daughters

My oldest daughter Emily made her first quilt when she was around 13 years old. Of course when she said she wanted to make a quilt we went to the sewing room and cut up a bunch of scraps and she made nine-patch blocks because that is what Grandma did. Not to be outdone by her older sister, Jennie made her first quilt at the age of 10.

Emily-Seasame-Street

6th Generation – My Granddaughter

My five year old granddaughter made me a quilt for my 50th birthday present. The quilt is called "Tricky Square". She named it this because each square has a match except for two of the squares. Can you find the tricky squares?

First-Quilt

The Generations Unite

Last April I completed a quilt titled The Generations Unite.

The inspiration for this project was the embroidered blocks that I found in my mom’s hope chest after her death in 2000. What a wonderful opportunity is was for me to bring the work of four generations together in this quilt. The label on the quilt states; “This quilt was made by the hands and feet of four generations. Not wanting to leave the other two generations out, I included design elements that represent all six generations of quilters in my family. I had the opportunity of seeing this quilt hang in the IQA show in Houston this past Fall. You can see a video, Show Us Your Quilt, produced by Bonnie McCaffery that includes a segment of me (starting at 5:20) with this quilt in Houston. You can read more about this project here.

The_Generations_Unite_white

The_Generations_Unite_green

I am so thankful to be a member of a church that teaches the importance of family and recording family history. I am also thankful that my ancestors followed these guidelines and took the time to write parts of their life story. I appreciate the family history work that my mother did. It is because of her hard work in collecting and organizing this information that I have the stories about family quilters to make these quilts even more special.

Each of us has a quilting legacy, it may be six generations like mine, maybe you are lucky enough to have seven generations already or maybe you are the first generation. It doesn’t matter. What I hope is that you record the stories that go along with the quilts and the quilter that are a part of your quilting legacy.

I would love to hear about your quilting legacy.

Thanks!
Mary Anne

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This post was published on January 27th, 2010. Post topics: Guest Bloggers, Quilt Gallery.

8 Responses to “The Legacy Lives On – Six Generations of Quilters”

  1. Bonnie says:

    what a wonderful article, I enjoyed my journey with you. I to come from a family of quilters but I started late in my own quilting journey and didn’t have the advice of those wonderful quilters before me. I do have a watercolor quilt that my mother and I made together when I went home to take care of her as she started her journey with Chemo,
    .-= Bonnie’s latest post: One World, One Heart Event =-.

  2. Aldana says:

    Hello!!! Mi name is Aldana, i am from Argentina!
    Is impresionant your descritpion!!!!
    Congratulations!!!
    .-= Aldana’s latest post: Mantita hipercolorida para Valen =-.

  3. Hi, i am so amazed with your story, the women in my family were from the country and the hand sew all the accessories of the home.
    I learn to sew with my grandmother and she still uses her Oliva black sewing machine!
    It’s not our tradition to make quilts like you do, so she was pleased tosee my first baby quilt.
    She is 83 now, and likes to make patchwork pillows to her granddaughters.
    All the best to you.
    Marília, from Lisbon, Portugal

  4. I treasure the quilts made by my ancestors. I also treasure the other hand work. My having the handmade treasures it bring those that have left this earth that much closer. I did become really involved in quilting until 2000 and my mother died that year. So, she has had to enjoy my journey from afar. But her influence is with me always! Thanks for taking the time to comment on my Quilting Legacy. mac

  5. what a wonderful story! your love of family and of quilting create visual images of inspiration!
    .-= michele bilyeu’s latest post: Stitches in Memory and Time =-.

  6. Jessica Bell says:

    This is an extraordinary legacy. It’s been extremely touching and motivating to me, hearing your story. Grandmother’s are special people! And what a phenomenal treasure you have in past and present quilts. Thank you so much for sharing your love and talent of quilting. If you don’t mind me asking, to what faith do you belong?

  7. Jessica,

    I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you would like to know about this religion please visit their webiste (you can also email me anytime with questions or comments.)

    http://lds.org
    .-= Mary Anne Ciccotelli’s latest post: Guest Blogger on Quilting Gallery =-.

  8. susan Landon says:

    Mary Anne, I love your article and that you have kept up with the quilting in our family. I am sure our grandmothers and mom are so pleased with you. I know your daughters and granddaughters love your example also. Yea!! Keep up the good work. Your sister Susan

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