The quilting was a day where friends and neighbors gathered
together to piece together quilted patches into a quilt so that
the girl would have at least one good quilt ready for her marriage.
Alternatively the top of the quilt may have already been completerd,
and the women would band together to sew the backing, wadding
(inside part) and the quilt top together. In the case of Mary
Ellen's quilting it was the latter. All the squares had been
completed by friends and realatives, and Grandma sewed them together.
It was a sign to the townsfolk that a girl had reached an age
to be married. It was a "coming of age" tradition.
Grandma felt that Mary Ellen MUST have a quilt because it
was right to do so. Apparently there was another cousin, Leona,
who was waiting to have hers, but couldn't because Mary Ellen
was older and hadn't had hers yet. Mary Ellen was 17 at the time,
and felt that the tradition was a backwoods custom which she didn't
want. She didn't want it announced to the community that she
was ready to be married. Grandma, on the other hand, couldn't
wait for her own because it meant that she was grown up. Olivia
also had a quilting and thought that it was a lovely tradition,
but didn't want to push Mary Ellen. Erin thought that it was
romantic. John Boy told Mary Ellen that the quilt was a gift
from the ladies in her community and family who cared about her.
It was something that she could keep and remember each one of
them, as they had given something of themselves.
Olivia's quilt square on Mary Ellen's quilt was a house with
eight windows and a door. She explains to John that the eight
windows are one each for herself and the children. When John
asks where his window is, Olivia replies that he is the door,
letting in the good things and keeping out the bad.
My thanks go to Brenda, for providing further information
about the quilting custom.