Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Reproducing My Great Grandmother's Quilt

My great grandmother was Anna Beukelman De Groot. She was born on July 4, 1865 in Holland. When she was one year old her family emigrated to the United States. She lived to her nineties and passed away in 1956. She grew up on a farm in South Dakota. My father remembers her telling of hiding in the cellar when the local Native American Indians would come to their farm. She married a farmer and lived near Orange City, Iowa (a very Dutch community to this day) raising nine children. This is a four generation picture of Anna taken in 1953. Anna is pictured in the single picture and on the far right of the family picture. My grandmother, Jennie De Groot Schiebout (who also was a farmer's wife and had twelve children of her own) is next, then my father Herman Schiebout Jr. holding me, Cheryl Schiebout Walker.

Last year my Aunt contacted me and said she had a quilt made by Great Grandma De Groot. She wanted me to take a look at it to see if there was anything that could be saved on it as it was quite worn. The quilt was sent to me and the study began.

I believe this butterfly quilt was made in the 1930s. There were kit quilts made like this about that time. Some of the butterflies look like feed sack fabric. My great grandmother hand embroidered the butterflies. Her embroidery held up better than the butterfly fabric.


The fabric in this butterfly looks very similar to some Aunt Gracie reproduction fabric in my fabric stash.

This was the most well preserved butterfly. My Aunt was thinking she might like to use the good parts of the quilt to make throw pillows or maybe a smaller wall hanging. Unfortunately this was the only whole butterfly block in the quilt.

Anna quilted her quilt with the same black embroidery floss that she used on the butterflies. A simple fleur-de-lis in the opposing blocks

and outline quilting around all the blocks.

In some of the worn seams you could tell the opposing blocks were a bright bubblegum pink.

All in all the quilt was quite worn. The batting in the quilt was a layer of flannel and the back of the quilt was a very sturdy cotton broadcloth.

As a matter of fact the back of the quilt was in the best shape with most of Anna's quilting stitches still visible. I really wanted the back of this quilt, worn soft with age, to be saved. I came up with the idea of making a new quilt top with reproduction fabrics and quilting it to Anna's original quilt. I was able to trace the butterfly from Anna's quilt and did most the the embroidery on my sewing machine using a 12 weight black Sulky thread.

The running stitch inside the butterflies was done with my machine's mock hand quilting stitch using invisible nylon thread on the top and the black thread in the bobbin.

I layered the new quilt top onto Anna's quilt but did decide to add a layer of batting to give the whole quilt a little more stability.

I also made the reproduction top slightly smaller so I could completely cut away the very worn bulky binding on Anna's quilt. I quilted it very simply much like my great grandmother did. I outlined the butterflies, the blocks and borders and used the 12 weight black thread to quilt the fluer-de-leis in the pink blocks. I used cream thread in the bobbin so my quilting stitches would not be competing with Anna's black quilted stitches on the back.

There is a little heart quilted in each corner of the quilt because this was a labor of love for me.

I get to keep the quilt in the spare bedroom for the summer as my Aunt is traveling but it will be sent to her this fall.

Happy Stitching All,




  1. What a fascinating post. Your great grandmother's quilt was/is lovely and its marvelous how you have remade it and preserved it. The details so carefully replicated and what was lovely and salvageable from the original is still retained. Your Aunt can still sleep under her grandmothers quilt and it is both hers and yours. So very interesting how you were able to use your machine to so similarly do what was done by hand before. A wonderful gift!

  2. Your reproduction is stunning! I love that you were able to use the old quilt...what an heirloom...hugs, Julierose

  3. What a wonderful project and such a lovely reproduction you have made!

  4. That is so precious!! What a wonderful labor of love.

  5. These butterflies look similar to these ones here at this blog.

  6. Oh what a touching post ! This quilt is a treasure and you've done a wonderful work on it !
    Congratulations Cheri ! :)

  7. What a wonderful story and a beautiful quilt. I have several family quilts and have thought of reproducing them some day. Your post is an inspiration.

  8. This is a wonderful post and what a story. And you've created a treasure.

  9. Thanks for sharing with us, I will be always your follower.
    quilt cover