In 1931, when my mother Beth was 10, her mother Helen made an alphabet quilt for her. It was hand stitched, with appliqued scraps of old pajamas and other articles of clothes. As a child I saw this spectacular artifact on rare occasions, but it was usually kept well sequestered in an old trunk, thoroughly mothballed. When my daughter Piper was born in 1997, Beth passed the quilt on to her. It was always considered too precious to actually sleep under.

Alphabet Quilt
Now that my mother, now 92, is living with us, and much of the time is reliving her Midwest childhood memories, we brought out the quilt to show her. She broke into tears.

Beth kept telling us the story of how Helen would take her into department stores, and find a dress they liked but were too poor to buy. Then she would buy some inexpensive fabric, and make the dress from memory. I began to wonder whether this quilt had come to be created through a similar process.


I Googled "alphabet quilt 1930s" and sure enough, soon discovered that our quilt was not a unique design but a pattern!

Baltimore Album Quilts has some good photos and provides this info: "The Alphabet Quilt was published in newspapers such as the Oregonian Newspaper in 1931 and the San Francisco Examiner in 1930. The patterns were designed by Florence La Ganke for Publishers Syndicate (1930). They were designed to appear in consecutive Sunday papers under the title of the Nancy Page Quilt Club."

This entry on the Anna Lena Land blog provides more information and photos of several similar quilts.

The Ruby Lane site offers a similar quilt for sale!

Read the pertinent excerpt from Wisconsin Quilts: History In The Stitches

If you want to make your own quilt, you can buy the pattern at Grandma's Attic or here!

Although this post doesn't hew to the Sepia Saturday theme of the week, do pop over to Sepia Saturday for more old photos, memorabilia, genealogy, and other musings....


  1. What wonderful creations. I have always been fascinated by quilts and you have such lovely examples that must be precious heirlooms.

  2. Alan is right! Your connection to the theme is right there in the alphabet. I love old quilts and this is such a treasure for your family to have - and in such good condition. And your mother sharing those memories with you makes it all the more precious.

  3. What a treasure, Sean!

    That Piper is a lucky girl.

  4. That's an interesting and beautiful quilt.

  5. A beautiful example of the art of quilts. My grandmother was a prolific quilter and seamstress, and I believe she may have done an alphabet quilt too. I'll have to ask my mom if it resembles this one and maybe it came from the same pattern.

  6. What a coincidence, just two weeks ago our local library had a talk on American quilts.

  7. It doesn't need to be on theme for us to apreciate that beautiful needlework.

  8. It's too bad it doesn't get used. If it was, though, it would be worn out by now. It must have taken a long time to make.