Applewood quilters save the day for resident’s family heirloom

Applewood quilters save the day for resident’s family heirloom

When Carolyn Duckett moved to Applewood five years ago as a second generation resident, she carefully packed the hand-embroidered quilt squares that her mother-in-law had hand-embroidered more than 50 years ago. Silk and velvet fabric were used from Duckett family dresses, ties and shirts over the years, going as far back as 1885 (according to one of the embroidered designs).

She nor her family members were quilters, and she wasn’t comfortable leaving these one-of-a-kind pieces of family legacy with a stranger.

The 21 individually-designed squares were carefully preserved, out of sight, in a cedar chest in Mrs. Duckett’s home.

Carolyn knew many people at Applewood has artistic abilities and soon met longtime quilters, Barbara Wood and Carol Niehaus.

“I’ve been a quilter for most of my life and Carolyn’s embroidered squares were absolutely spectacular,” Mrs. Wood explains. “I was ready to help her turn those squares into a spectacular quilt, but I wanted to consult quilting historians on the safest way to sew irreplaceable antique fabric.


The birth of a ‘crazy quilt’

Since each of the squares varies, quilters refer to the style as a ‘crazy quilt,’ a traditional North American design featuring patches of random sizes, shapes, colors, and fabrics.

Barbara traveled to Vermont with one of the squares to consult with antique quilting experts at the Shelburne Museum, the first museum in the U.S. to present quilts as works of art and who specialize in historic textile collections, woven coverlets, needlework, hooked rugs and printed fabrics.


“After I discussed the scope of the project with them, Carol and I knew how to proceed. In about six weeks, we had assembled the squares, added multiple layers of batting and hand-stitched a border around to create a four by six-foot quilt.”

Carolyn Duckett could not have been more elated with the outcome. “Not only did they fulfill a dream of mine to see these squares made into a quilt, but they added looping at the top so that I can hang it in my home.”

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New Applewood friendships made a lifelong dream a reality

Carolyn attributes the success of this effort to Applewood. “If I had not been so fortunate to meet Barbara and Carol, this precious piece of my family’s history would have remained in my chest, unfinished.”

She says her plan is to eventually have the quilt installed as wall art in her home for family and friends to enjoy for years, and generations, to come.


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