Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Quilts Feel Like Home

quilts in Appalachia

Earlier this week I read an article written by Vera Guthrie. She was reminiscing about her Mother’s handmade quilts. Vera said the quilts were utilitarian-no double wedding rings-just quilts made for warmth. They were heavy quilts-made from scraps of fabric and pieces of old clothing. Vera joked about how once you were tucked in at night-there was no getting up till morning-they held you in place.

I grew up with the sorta quilts Vera’s mother made. Not always the prettiest pattern-but warm and full of love. Makes me think of home. Neither my house nor Pap’s is especially nice or fancy. But my how comforting the thought of home is when you’ve you been through a rough stay in the hospital.

The whole Blind Pig Gang can’t began to express the gratitude we feel to each of you-your kind words and prayers did the trick. Pap and his brand spanking new heart stint are feeling much better. The flu symptoms are on the run-and we’re hoping to be home by tonight-to sleep in our own beds under those old utilitarian quilts that feel like home.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.



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  • Reply
    March 3, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Great news!!!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Tipper – so glad Pap is on the mend. Hope you are home and resting comfortably.
    We have afghans. A few quilts but my nanny and my mama crocheted a lot more than quilted. Me too. But here is so much love in each of the blankets. I love that my home is not fancy or over decorated. most everything has a reason or a story to it.
    Have a wonderfulweek.

  • Reply
    February 27, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Wonderful news that Pap is on the mend. I don’t have any quilt stories or memories. All we had were blankets, I feel so deprived now, lol, but hearing your wonderful stories- I can almost feel the warmth of the heavy quilts you all speak of.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    February 27, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Well, I’m a day late and a dollar short so to speak, but I didn’t know Pap was in the hosptial, etc. My lil netbook went on the blink but I thought I had gotten caught up but apparently not. I will pray for Pap to have no complications and a complete recovery. Thanking the Lord for his mercy and His mending Hand upon Pap and for the drs skills and knowledge — all glory to God! Sorry I didn’t know to pray earlier — hugs from Tennessee.

  • Reply
    Kim Campbell
    February 26, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I;m glad Pap is on the mend. I adore quilts, tattered or not!

  • Reply
    barbara gantt
    February 26, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I have some quilts that an Aunt made from polyester material. You can burn up in them. Happy to hear the good news , an anwser to prayer. Barbara

  • Reply
    February 26, 2011 at 9:05 am

    So glad Pap is doing better. My family was a quilting family, I have at least one ugly quilt that I think is ‘beautiful.’

  • Reply
    Shane Moad
    February 26, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Hey Tipper, sorry, I must have missed the email about Paps heart problem, I have not been on much this week, been in the studio. We will be keeping you all in our prayers. I know what you mean about the quilts, my wife Val makes wonderful home made quilts from scraps just like years back. In winter we get great pleasure from feeling them on top of us as we sleep. I have a number of old quilts from Appalachia that I bout for Val dating back from the late 1800s up untill about the forties. We also have one that my kin made on the Hatfield and Stanley side of the clan that comes from Wilkes County NC.
    Please give our best to Pap from Down Under

  • Reply
    janet pressley
    February 25, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Hope you guys are home and comfortable as can be! After Pap rests and heals hope he is without pain and back at it. I always wanted to make a quilt out of scrap cloth just like my grandmothers did. Nana

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    February 25, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    What good news! I know Pap’ll do better once he’s back where he belongs.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    So glad that Pap is doing better. My own dad had heart trouble several years ago and it can be so stressful for the patient and the family. My prayers are with you.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Glad to hear Pap’s better–Mama had two stents put in at 88.
    We had wood heat early in my life & lived in Grandpa’s sharecropper house (shack). It was rough built with no insulation & the beds were cold as ice. We used to stand & bake our behinds at the fire & then run & jump in the bed. We had a pile of those thick, heavy quilts & they were sure ugly but such a blessing.
    My husband’s family is more refined & have pieced & quilted many beautiful “fancy” quilts. I love them but they aren’t warm like the old timey kind.
    I will be praying for you & Pap. Thanks for this site–makes me feel like you’re all family. And reliving the old memories is precious to me.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    February 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I am so happy that Pap is doing this time I hope you are home and settled in again after the stay at the hospital…Hospital life is like a little town or community of its own…one world inside another world outside…I’ve been there many many times in the caregiver capacity…
    The wool guilts my Mom made would weigh a ton and you could barely move under them, but definitely warm…Sometimes she would just make new tops and bottoms for the old ones…layering them and then just tacking them…I have tacked a’many tacks, that was my job as a young girl…LOL

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Tipper, I am so sorry to hear about pap, I did not know this, but I am glad he is doing better, I will keep you in my prayers, this is my new email address, kay

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    February 25, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Hope you are home by now and your Daddy is doing well.
    I remember quilts on our beds. They were already pretty worn out by the time I came along. Mother said her mother made them. I loved the warmth they provided, and wish I had one of them.
    Hope all the family gets well soon.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    i am sorry for the hospital stay for pap and am so glad he is getting ready to go home. know i will keep all of you under my utilitarian quilt of prayers from afar.
    my love from michigan,

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph. D.
    February 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Tipper: HOW SWEET IT IS TO KNOW THINGS ARE GOING BETTER FOR PAP AND YOU ALL! Yes those old quilts bring back many precious memories! When we got married we got TWO quilts Mama had made especially for me! I was so proud. We didn’t have too much to be proud about but we were always warm in our WWII house in Oak Ridge!
    When the quilts got so tattered I was ashamed to use them. SO I just gave them to the Home Economics teacher and she had the students make Christmas Tree Ornaments from the quilts! Of course those home-made ‘ornaments’ are mighty precious!
    Stay warm! Eva Nell

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    The Power of Prayer! I’m so glad
    that you all will soon be enjoying the comforts of home.
    In my mountain home where I was
    raised, Mama would pile those old
    quilts on us boys until it was
    really hard to turn over. And in
    the winter when it snowed and if
    it was windy, traces of snow would
    be on the cover coming from the
    cracks in the outside wall. What
    great memories! …Ken

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Great news, Tipper! I’m relieved with you.
    My Mamaw made utilitarian quilts. I’m a quilter, and recently decided to try to restore one of hers. I removed the back, and imagine my surprise when I opened the quilt to find batting that had been pieced together using old blankets.

  • Reply
    Nancy @ A Rural Journal
    February 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    So glad to hear that Pap is doing better. I have been thinking about him and you. Hope you are taking care of yourself, Tipper. Times like these are hard on a person.
    Big hugs from Nebraska. 🙂

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    My maternal grandmother was a quilter, she sewed all sorts of clothes including the basket ball uniforms for the teams in her surrounding areas. Then from those scraps she made beautiful quilts. The satin basketball scraps were turned into a beautiful fan quilt. I have the battered and shredding remnants of two cotton quilts made from left over material, and I remember from childhood several wool scrap quilts, those were more mere function quilts than constructed in any pattern. I loved her quilts. They were not the go to the fabric store and buy x amount of this color and z amount of these other colors and put together a perfectly designed quilt. Even though she did use some complicated patterns they used what she had on hand and the backs were all plain muslin or just plain fabrics. Those are the kind of quilts that Bet and I hope to get to this summer.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Well, you really can’t keep a good man down, can you? Thanks for sharing the good news!
    My great-aunt Mary used to make that kind of quilt. They were (excuse the phrase) butt-ugly. The scraps were all of somber colored scratchy wool. We had two of them and used them for decades before they wore out and began to fray. It gets ridiculously cold here in NE Ohio, and while those quilts would not have won any prizes at the county fair, they were almost supernaturally warm. I wish I had one now!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I am so glad that Pap is feeling better and on the mend. I am a quilter and I assure you that the woman that made your quilts would be truly touched that you feel that way about her creation!
    I remember as a child sleeping at my grandmother’s house. You always slept in this huge iron bed with a feather mattress. Then piled high with quilts. Between the cousins sleeping in the bed with you and the weight of those quilts pushing you into the feathers of that mattress you couldn’t turn over if you wanted to. With the fireplace banked for the night you stayed toasty till morning safe and secure.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    February 25, 2011 at 11:22 am

    tipper that is such great news… and when pap gets home give him a hug from me.. and tuck him into bed with a nice warm quilt and a hot cup of tea 🙂
    many blessings,love, and prayers
    and ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    Elizabeth K
    February 25, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I love “scrap” quilts best of all, there’s something cozy about them – they just give a good homey feeling.
    Glad to hear your Pap is on the mend. Sending prayers to all.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 25, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Wonderful news!!! I remember sleeping under old wool army blankets, they were so scratchy and rough that we had to have the quilt first then the blankets! Indeed you couldn’t move after you pulled them up. We didn’t have any type of heat in our old Cracker houses, just a kerosene stove which didn’t even warm the room it was in. Some of you may know it gets really cold here in FL, I’m in the middle of the East Coast and we get down in the teen’s and sometimes we stay there for weeks. Can you imagine no heat!

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    February 25, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Mother made ugly “utilitarian” quilts when I was a boy, but in later years when she had a bit more time she made some really beautiful ones. I remember one with the top made out of old blue jean legs! It was heavy and after she got through using it on the beds we used it camping for years. Of the hundreds she must have made I have ONE! To me that one is priceless. Hope you guys make it home tonight.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 10:35 am

    so glad pap is ok and you are going to be home with your quilts. this made me smile at the old memory. in Ga we did not need quilts and had blankets, we moved to KY in 53 and my mother and grandmother made 2 quilts. Mommy’s was BROWN and weighed in at about 25 pounds or so it felt. it was all small pieces cut out of 2 brown dresses. mothers was prettier but just as heavy. they were both the family joke for years, the brwon one ended up with me in my hubby’s garage as a pad for the back of the pickup truck, it was heavy like the ones the moving people throw over furniture to protect it. but i was warm. under the ugly brown quilt i found it hard to turn over, but when i woke up in the attic bedroom, with ice on the inside of the windows, it felt real good

  • Reply
    Uncle Dave
    February 25, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Praise God! The outpouring in response to Pap’s need blessed my heart. There are still a lot of wonderful people out there!
    That quilt took me back a few years to time when a bedfull of cousins slept in a bed in a log room heated only by a fireplace. We were placed 3 at the top and 2 at the bottom, warm and snug. They were indeed the “good old days”.
    Love to all, Uncle Dave.

  • Reply
    Dolores Barton
    February 25, 2011 at 10:12 am

    You reminded me of the times my mother-in-law made quilts. She had so much love in each stitch. I too have attempted to make quilts and I have succeeded in finishing three. Each was hand stitched and the work gave me a wonderful feeling of joy and love for those I finished them for. In my heart and prayers I will think of your Pap and hope that many more days of love and joy will be with you and your family.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    February 25, 2011 at 10:10 am

    My mother-in-law made all kinds of quilts and as each child/grandchild married she made them a special quilt. We cherished them all and her hours of time/love put into them.
    Here’s hoping you will be home by tonight, just don’t blow away if you’ve got winds like we do here.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 10:03 am

    We had those kinds of quilts too, and I do love quilts!
    So glad to hear the good news about your Pap!!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    February 25, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Great news about Pap. We will continue praying for his complete recovery.
    You story about quilts brings back memories of visiting my grandparents in Sylva, NC. Their old house was a big, old 3-story farm house that had no insulation in it at all. When we visited at Christmas, my brother and I were sent to a room on the third floor. The only heat in the house was a huge wood-burning kitchen stove and a pot-bellied stove in the living room. These were a long way from that third floor.
    I remember going to bed at night and crawling under a stack of grandmother’s heavy quilts and freezing for about 30 seconds until the warmth kicked in. Then I was toasty, but could not move because of the weight of the quilts and the fear that I would have to warm up another part of the bed.
    Those cold nights under those quilts are some of my fondest memories of visits to Granddad and Grandmother’s farm.
    The fancy quilts of today just don’t have that weight to them, so I am not interested in them. I miss Grandmother’s quilts, even though I don’t need them much here in South Florida.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Love quilts (hand made afgans too)!
    Also love the power of “group thought”. Yeah for Pap and your family. Continued healing thoughts…

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    February 25, 2011 at 9:41 am

    The whole BlindPig crew is like a homemade quilt on a cold night.
    We are thrilled and thankful for Pap’s progress.
    The upstairs of the house where I was raised wasn’t heated (and a curtain was kept over the steps to keep the heat downstairs). While I never saw icicles hanging from the ceiling, I’d swear we had some hard frosts inside.
    Jim and I slept in the same bed when we were growing up. With him being the older – much older 😉 – brother, I got sent to bed before him. I’d just get my side of the bed good and warm when Jim would come up and tell me to scoot on over – no matter which side I was on, it was the side that he wanted to sleep on.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Way to go Pap, so glad you’re getting much better! Can’t wait to hear some more of that great music we all love. I also was raised with the same simple quilts and still have some my Granny Mandy made when I was a child. These old quilts are full of love and great memories of home.

  • Reply
    Just Jackie
    February 25, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Did not know your dad was in the hospital. Glad everything is going well. Give him a big hug from me !!!
    Got another “Jackie” story about a quilt. We had lots of everyday quilts but when I was 4 my granny made me this beautiful quilt. I can’t remember the quilted part but she had backed it with Kelly green satin. It felt so good, looked so fancy. Well…one night I decided that my doll would love a dress made out of that fabric. I still remember my grandma’s voice when she asked how I could have done that to my beautiful quilt. Guess I had the crafting bug early. LOL

  • Reply
    grannis little corner
    February 25, 2011 at 9:27 am

    So glad that Pap is on the road to recovery…God is good, all the time. When I had my stent placed, I felt so much better and I know how Pap must be feeling. My family, along with myself, has CAD, so this is nothing new to us. Oh yes, the quilt that seemed to weigh a ton, had one on my bed as a child. Two of us slept at the top of the bed, and one at the foot of the bed, sandwiched in between…toasty warm, to be sure.

  • Reply
    J E
    February 25, 2011 at 9:26 am

    I hope Pap is feeling better with each passing day
    From one not so old GI to One who’s generation I have the greatest respect for. Tell him I said Thanks for his service.

  • Reply
    Nina Chastain
    February 25, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Tipper, so glad your Pap did well and that he is feeling better. Hope the flu bug goes away ,too. God is good , there were alot of people praying. Glad you all got him to Atlanta, tell him to take care, now.
    I remember the old quilts too, just were made out of whatever Mom and Grandma had to make them out of. Feel good anyway.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 9:21 am

    I still have many of the quilts like this my mom made by hand. I also have some she made with beautiful patterns & they are just as warm. My dh’s family made lots of quilts by hand using store bought fabrics, batting & backing mixed a few scraps from clothes. My family always fight over my mamma’s quilts though because they are so much warmer. The batting is recycled blankets with pieced backs & fronts.
    One of my favorite memories is playing under the quilting frame while my mom quilted. I spent hours laying there watching her needle go in & out, playing with my dolls.
    Great memories.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 9:17 am

    So glad Pap is on the mend and you’re headed back to a more “normal” life at home again. There is no place like home and our quilts and other handmade treasures help define who we are and where we came from. I’m an avid quilter and work on lots of new fabrics & patterns often but my favorite quilts are the ones our grandmothers pieced together from whatever material they happened to have on hand – they never threw away a shirt or dress that had become too small or even holey – it was cut into small pieces and used for the next quilt. I sometimes sit with one of those old quilts and try to imagine what the patches were originally and who wore them. I have a couple that are only the patches that were never quilted. I can see the thread holding each patch together – it is really thick stuff – I think it was recycled from something else too. I can just imagine my great-grandmother sitting by the fire piecing those squares together as she rocked.
    My old quilts are even more special than the ones I make now. I hope my grandchildren will treasure them as much as I do.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    February 25, 2011 at 8:52 am

    I had those kind of quilts too. Actually my son is using one that my mom, she was surprised when I asked if I could have it. I used to slept under it. It’s nothing fancy, it’s crooked where there are some wool scraps in there and they shrunk when it was washed. And now most of the binding has come off but my son still uses it. He likes it too. So good to hear you Pap is doing well! Praying for a speedy recovering.
    Patty H.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Love quilts…especially the kind you are talking about…they are like comforting arms and safety. Blessings to you all!

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    February 25, 2011 at 8:48 am

    So happy to here that things went well. Quilts define my life.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 8:45 am

    God is Good.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 8:42 am

    good news!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 25, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Yea Pap, prayer works wonders beyond all knowing.
    By the way…..I’ve been to your home. It is beautiful and so full of warmth, love, and family!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Am still praying for Pap and your family. Glad he’s doing well. Hope you had a good night’s sleep under those wonderful old quilts. Had some of those and they are so warm. It’s true they held you in place cause they were made to last and do the job. Have a good day.

  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    February 25, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Thank you Tipper for sharing my love of the comfort of a quilt. Making quilts is a lost art that is full of love and memories.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    February 25, 2011 at 8:28 am

    How wonderful that a stint did the trick! My mom made the kind of quilts you’re talking about. My grandma made the fancy kind.

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