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Hearn Family Quilt

Nancy Clark


Quilt (full) Quilt (detail)

The idea for a family quilt came in December, 1989. I was visiting Grandmother and Granddaddy in Nashville and went to Immanuel church with them. In one of the classrooms was displayed a wall-hanging which had signatures of members scattered around on it. I noticed that the names were embroidered. I mentioned to Daddy at the time that I'd like to make a family quilt, and he thought that would be a good idea.

I had joined a quilting class at my church early in 1989 and had made several small projects that year. I remember thinking that Daddy could die at any time, so I'd better get busy on the quilt.

Here's the sequence I followed in making the quilt:

Jan., 1990–wrote letter requesting signatures; planned quilt on graph paper.
Feb., 1990–purchased, washed, and ironed fabric; began to cut out individual pieces (squares, triangles, rectangles); sewed first diamond-shaped block on sewing machine.
March, 1990–sent several completed blocks to Suzie and Mother, who agreed to embroider names on them.
April-May, 1990–cut out more pieces, sewed more blocks
June-Dec., 1990–completed embroidery; basted each block to include front, batting, and back; hand-quilted each block separately; sewed pieces together in diagonal strips.
Jan., 1991–sewed bias binding around quilt; mailed finished quilt to Mom and Dad.

The idea for the quilt design was adapted from an album quilt shown in Georgia Bonesteel's book, New Ideas for Lap Quilting. I enjoyed planning the design. At the time, there were only 13 grandchildren, and of the grandchildren only Bob Hearn was married. (Bonnie had made plans to marry in July, 1990, so her block includes Derek.) The 13 sections for grandchildren, plus two blocks for parents and six for children, equaled 21 named blocks. Then I added three cross-stitched sections with the words Hearn, Family, and Quilt on them, as well as eight blocks of blue fabric with a large rose quilted on each. This brought the total number of blocks to 32. Because the sections were to be arranged like diamonds, the edges of the quilt had to be filled in with triangles.

The color scheme for the signature blocks represented the three generations:
grandparents: navy blue
children: burgundy
grandchildren: pink

Each diamond block was machine-pieced and then hand-quilted separately. Then each diagonal strip was sewn together, starting with the fronts (by machine), then the backs (by hand).

To me, the best part of making the quilt was the hand quilting. I was living alone, since Dan was attending Clemson and Andy, Duke. I often sat on the sofa, watched (or at least listened to) TV, and quilted. I found it to be very relaxing, because it forced me to slow down.

After Mom and Dad received the completed quilt in early 1991, Daddy commented that it was the most beautiful one he'd ever seen. I am happy that Daddy got to see the quilt, if only for a short time.

Mom gave the quilt back to me in 1993. I sewed a sleeving on the back and hung it on a specially made quilt rack in my house.