History in a Quilt


Gullena Block Quilt web 4

Family Heirloom Quilt, Front and Back View

A few years ago I was given an amazing family heirloom quilt but it wasn’t until this year that I really came to know the story behind it. The 48″ x 60″ quilt is tied with red and purple yarn and is made up of strips in the middle and a row of quarter square triangles running vertically along the sides. It is finished with a beautiful blue border that also runs along the sides, leaving an interesting edge along the top and bottom without it feeling incomplete or undeveloped. The back has a few strips of the fabric from the front in what I assume is a type of sashing to reinforce and strengthen the edge and that to me indicates the top of the quilt. This is an element that I seem to see quite a lot in older quilts and as far as I know has not really carried over into more modern style quilting. The back is made from a piece of bedcover and has a marvellous textured design throughout.

Gullena Block Quilt web 3

Quilt back showcasing the texture of the cloth and the sashing that runs along the top.

The front is made from 16 different solids, varying from light and dark blue to pinks, yellows, white, greens, oranges, and reds. Patterns abound here with plaids, florals, stripes, fruit, checkered squares, etc. to create a vibrant but balanced composition and a magnificent piece of art.

Gullena Block Quilt web

A sampling of the types of fabric used in this quilt.

The quilt is quite fragile so I have kept it stored away to try and protect it from further damage. I had it out to air and to take some photographs when I decided to send the pictures to my aunt, hoping she would have an idea of the quilt’s history.

Originally I had thought that it was made by my grandmother, who died in her thirties so I never had the chance to meet her, but my aunt informed me that it was actually my great grandmother who was the quilter. Gullena Block, born on April 8, 1905, lived most of her life in Estevan, Saskatchewan and made a quilt for each of her grandchildren as wedding gifts. In true patchwork fashion the quilts were made from leftover scraps of fabric she had from curtains and dresses, etc.

Great Grandma and Grandpa Block Sept 1956 web

Great Grandma and Grandpa Block, September 1956

I am only just starting to get to know the history of this side of my family and I have a lot more digging to do; all it took was a simple question about a quilt to get the ball rolling.


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