Pieced by Mother at 12 . . .

One of my most treasured possessions is a quilt presented to me by my mother on the occasion of our marriage in 1971.

20160324-MMA_9811_melinda_andersonThe quilt was made by my great-grandmother, Mary Amanda Peaslee, who was born in Postville, Iowa in 1859.  Her parents, Augustus and Elizabeth Mary Crawford Peaslee, were recent immigrants from Ontario, Canada, along with her maternal grandparents, William and Charlotte Crawford (both born in Ireland). Mary Amanda, along with her four siblings, grew up in Iowa, and she moved to Chicago at some point in the 1870’s with some of her family. In 1882, she married my great-grandfather, Charles Harper Bean, and gave birth to my grandmother in 1888.  By age thirty-five, she was already a widow with a seven year old daughter. She never re-married, but lived with her sister and then my grandmother until her death in 1949 at age eighty-nine.


Mary Amanda was an accomplished seamstress all her life and was listed as such in a Chicago City directory before her marriage. My mother remembered sitting sewing and ripping out stitch after stitch as a young girl- never quite measuring up to the exacting standards of her grandmother. In later years, my mother returned to sewing and made beautiful outfits with her Elna sewing machine- always using Vogue designer patterns.


In one corner of the quilt is the inscription embroidered by my grandmother (Mary Amanda’s daughter): “Pieced by Mother at 12 years of age.” It was made in 1871- one hundred years before our wedding- and now it is 145 years old!

8 thoughts on “Pieced by Mother at 12 . . .

  1. What a beautiful treasure to have. I think the pattern is called “flower basket.” The piecing and quilting is exquisite, those tiny little hand stitches. I have made several quilts over the years, hand quilting a few of them. I can really appreciate the work that went into this quilt. And, you have kept it in such beautiful condition. This is a lovely story. Here is your genealogy in three dimensions!

  2. Handmade quilts have always been my favorites. I admire the beautiful and inspiring new art quilts and even the pieced, machine-quilted bed quilts. But handmade, pieced and quilted by hand have a different soul and certainly a different appearance too. It is REMARKABLE that your family has kept this beautiful quilt in such good condition. It is also interesting that the reds have not bled into other pieces, as often happens with 19th century quilts. Maintaining these old textiles is a science and your mother and you seem to have known what to do. 🙂 I mentioned the “soul” of the quilt: and “quilters,” men and women who make quilts would know what I am talking about. Each one is created from the thoughts of the quilter, given life from their hands, and given purpose by handing them over to their recipients. You have photographed this quite correctly, showing the purpose of the quilt (on the bed), the close-up to show the pattern and the fine hand-quilting stitches, and then the personal inscription to give it some emotion. Well-Done AGAIN! (by the way: if you are keeping this quilt on a bed, that it one of the best ways to maintain an old quilt, as it is supported over-all. IF you want to store it away, the best way is to dust it off by shaking it gently, the laying it onto a clean white cotton sheet and rolling it it up. Folding puts strain on the aging fibers and this grand old quilt is getting ….old. 🙂 )

  3. Thank you MaryAnn! I think I’ve been lucky! I don’t remember what my mother did with it- but it lay on a bed, sat over a chair- and for awhile was on a wall in the seventies and eighties. Since then it’s been just folded up in a cedar chest. I only put it on the bed for the photo- I don’t think I want to chance keeping it on a bed now. I will look for a white sheet and roll it up- and store it SOMEWHERE!

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