Old Photos in a Box

Heritage on a Small Scale

This year we were challenged to make a quilt drawing inspiration from your own personal heritage.  We could look to our cultural backgrounds, or our home towns, state, or even countries.  Many of us looked back on our relatives or ancestors.

As the title implies, we were looking for smallish quilts with perimeters or circumferences of 100″ or less. The quilt could be square, rectangular, triangular, or even circular.  The technique was up to us:  piecing, applique, foundation piecing were seen throughout the show.

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Leave a comment below and let us know how you liked the show.

Janice Healy

“Heritage” My family has a history on my mother’s side of the ladies all sewing for the family and others. 18″ x 18″

Linda G

“My Heritage on a Small Scale” I knew immediately that the primary block would be an Ohio Star as I was born and raised in Ohio. The center of the star has bees and beehive as I moved to Utah in my adolescence and Utah is the ‘Beehive State’. Gave thought to how the corners would reflect my heritage. Italian flag! I grew up with Italian spoken around me. University of Utah symbol- where I got all my degrees and meet my husband. Florence Nightingale’s lamp reflects my 48 year career in nursing. The needle & thread reflects my long generational line of seamstresses and quilters. Appliqué is turned edge and all the embroidery is by hand. Very fun project!! 12″ x 12″

Carol Christ

“My Family Tree” When the challenge was announced I had just completed a hands-on miniature quilt class taught by Kellie Willey. I immediately pictured making this little quilt. 8″ x 9.5″

Wendy Miller

“My Dutch Heritage” My mother was born, raised in Holland. I’ve been saving my kid size apron, wall hanging to make something to remember her. I pieced them together with Dutch blue and white fabric she gave me. This represents my Dutch heritage 25″ x 25″Wendy's "My Dutch Heritage"

Kim Toffel

“Grandma and Grandpa’s Flower Garden” My grandparents started the florist business in 1935. They retired and sold the business to my parents in 1971. After my parents divorced in 1983, my Mother ran the business until 2000. My youngest sister then took over and is still running it to this day. Needless to say, I worked there. 19″ x 21.5″Kim T's "Grandma and Grandpa's Flower Garden"

Marcia Sanderman

“Lippe Rose” The Sanderman family‘s roots stem from Selsen, Germany, a little crossroad’s town in Lippe County. There is a farm in Selsen that dates back to the 1600s that has been operated by a Sanderman until the early 2000s. The heraldic symbol of the county is the Lippe Rose.
I wanted to use the Lippe Rose as the basis for my MPS 2023 Heritage on a Small Scale Challenge Quilt.” In looking through my quilt books for ideas, I happened on a book titled “A New Light on Storm at Sea Quilts” by Wendy Mathson that highlighted different ways to use this pattern. For my 2022 Challenge quilt I made a Storm at Sea quilt that I named “Beachcombing”. I was inspired to use the same pattern to get a totally different looking quilt.
This year’s challenge quilt literally developed row by row as I went along. I mapped out the design using a grid from the book and kept changing the design as I went along. What I ended up with was a Lippe Rose garden surrounded by a wrought iron fence. 20″ x 22″

Jessica Cutright

“Simple, Symbolic Beginnngs” After talking with others during dessert hour recently, I decided on using this logo with a calico cat and an almost gingham dog. The cat represents my mother of Polish descent. The dog is for my father of an English/Irish background. The calico in the cat is a lot like the festive dresses worn during Polish celebrations. The gingham looks a bit like farm furrows, my dad’s family had been farmers. The quilting line are in two directions to represent how my working career followed getting two different degrees. An AS in veterinary technology leading to 16 years as a laboratory animal technician. Working at the university enabled me to complete my bachelor’s degree, after which I conducted experiments for the next 20 years. Mice, as in the binding, were the primary subjects I studied. The cat and dog are facing away from each other; my parents’ marriage lasted 12 years. The dog being larger than the cat is symbolic of my dad being much older than my mother. Even when we lived where cats or dogs were not allowed, they were often in our home. We have since always had at least one dog to go with one if not more cats. The quilting lines also represent my journey from Michigan to Oregon. 17″ x 12.5″

Deb Messina

“Heritage on a Dinner Plate” I spent much of my career traveling for work – often to places where the food and customs are very different from mine. Through travel, I learned that the quickest way to connect in any country was the meals shared with coworkers and their families. I was privileged to be invited to the homes of my coworkers – where I learned from their mothers – to make the dishes passed down through generations of their families. Those traditions – and those shared meals are what tied them – and us together.
The same is true for my own family. I grew up in a multigenerational home where I learned to make the family recipes from my great-grandparents, my grandparents, and my parents. I still make all of those recipes today (without so much bacon fat).
It’s our heritage – on a Dinner Plate. 22″ x 27″

Carolyn Bahrman

Through childhood, school, travel, college, religious faith, teaching, adult interests like mysteries and quilting: books have always been around our house, integrated into our life. But now it is becoming electronic and that is great too. A heritage of reading offers a bridge between the past, present and future for learning and pleasure. 17″ x 19″

Karen Sandberg

“Chicago Geese” This quilt reflects my birth in Chicago and life there until we moved to Portland in 1973. The the colors of blue and yellow reflect my Swedish grandparents. 25″ x 25″

Christie Frey

“Fresh Squeezed” Growing up in California there was always orange trees in our backyard. My dad, Bob Connelly would pick and press fresh orange juice regularly. Little did I know how rare it was to have that fresh squeezed delight. 18.5″ x 22.5″

Marilyn Henderson

“Family Farm” I grew up on a farm in Mohawk, Oregon outside of Springfield/Eugene area.
My parents raised turkeys for over 20 years, plus dairy cows, feeder cattle and sometimes other animals. Dad grew wheat, corn and other seed crops plus a big vegetable garden. Both sets of my grandparents are Danish, were farmers also and lived in Junction City where my parents had met.
I chose the barn and animals to represent my heritage, with the red and white boarder to represent the colors of the Danish flag. 17″ x 19″Marilyn's "Family Farm"

Cydney Gordon

“Aloha Memories” My parents met while traveling from Hawaii and my family vacationed a lot there. So this quilt represents part of my heritage and my love for warm waters. It was conceived for the “Heritage on a Small Scale” challenge for 2023. The pattern is a pieced pattern that I converted to a miniature scale and made the foundations for. 23″ x 25″

Dianne McDonnell

“The Aunties”. In the early 1900’s in Northern Idaho farm country, Delbert and Laura Chapman had 8 daughters (and no sons). My mother’s mother was Della, one of a set of twins who represented daughters number 4 and 5. These 8 women married, half of them to farmers in the area. They eventually became known as The Aunties to the rest of the family. These sisters loved fiercely, did not suffer fools, and held us all to a higher standard. Each star point represents one of the sisters.
My mother (lavender) married her high-school sweetheart and they moved into a small rented farmhouse in the same town. I (red) was born while they were there and lived there until I was twelve. The Aunties were a big part of my life during that time, as well as after because we attended many “Chapman” reunions.
My family moved to the Portland area when I was 13, and it was there that I met and married my college sweetheart. He was immediately accepted as part of the bigger family and came to love the Aunties, too.
My daughter (purple) was born in Portland as one of a set of boy-girl twins. She was fortunate to get to know some of the Aunties through our reunions as she was growing up. She recently married and became the step-mother to my new teenaged granddaughter (gold center).
The Aunties values have been passed down to each generation and through these amazing women, we have all learned the importance of motherhood and family. And even though my granddaughter will never know the Aunties, she will learn that they are now a part of her heritage. 10″ x 10″

Kim Draper

“The Mayflower” Growing up in Massachusetts, I had always grown up with quite a bit of knowledge of where my ancestors had come from, but it was not until my adulthood when a second cousin had done the investigative work to track the family to The Mayflower that I realized how important that ancestry was. This quilt challenge presented me the opportunity to participate in my very first quilt challenge, make only the second wall hanging I’ve ever made and allow me to design my very first unique composition. I hope my children will cherish it as much as I do already. It truly was a labor of love. 19″ x 29″

Liz McElhinny

“Homestead Log Cabin” I have sewn most of my life. My mother and grandmothers sewed, embroidered, knit and taught me these skills. None of them made quilts. I made my first quilts in the early 1970’s during high school.
I did not realize there was a quilting history in my family for many years. After my maternal grandmother, Elma Martin Lineham DesBrisay, passed at age 100 in 1996, my uncle gave me two quilts that her paternal grandmother, Barbara McIntyre Lineham, had made. Barbara was born in 1829 in England and died in 1897 in Ontario, Canada.
I created this small quilt, a log cabin, based on my memory of these quilts. It is red and white for Canada, my mother’s family and my birthplace. The 4” paper-pieced block layout is barn-raising for the homestead history of the family.
I pulled out the original quilt when I had finished my challenge quilt and discovered it is probably a “roof tile” quilt made in the Isle of Man Manx style. Each log is hand-stitched to a fabric foundation with a pleat before the next log is added. There is no batting in this quilt. At some point, someone stitched a backing to it and brought the edges to the front to create a binding. The blocks are made from many different fabrics and many have disintegrated over time. My cousins remember using the quilt for “quiet times” on the beach at their Canadian property on the Sunshine Coast north of Vancouver, BC.
Sewn and quilted in the ditch by Elizabeth (Liz) Lineham McElhinny 16″ x 16″

Ruthann Marquis

“My Trinacria” I have always identified with my Sicilian background and that was reinforced in Spring of 2023 when I visited Sicily for the second time. It felt like I was home!
The Trinacria is a symbol of Sicily,. The three legs represent points of the island of Sicily. The wings illustrate eternal passage of time and the spiritual nature of the Sicilian people.
I chose olives, wheat and grapes to showcase the
fertility of the land.
I added a few personal items to have some fun!
On each foot I added the option of my Keen slides,
my swimming fins and my walking shoes.
Instead of the snake head, I added two cardinals as a
nod to my Ohio upbringing. The backing fabric is a lovely Tilda piece I bought in Spain while walking the Camino de Santiago. 24″ x 23″

Naomi Macioce

“Soft Pretzels” The pretzel has very early roots in Southern Germany, where it is typically credited as the birthplace of soft pretzels.
Swiss German immigrants introduced this German baking tradition to people in the US, Pennsylvania in particular. These immigrants became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Pretzels have always proliferated on street corners, sporting events, and anything else Philadelphia, and in 2003 the governor of PA proclaimed a new holiday – National Pretzel Day, in honor of the significance of the pretzel in the state’s history.
I grew up in Philly and always loved soft pretzels. A large portion of my heritage is German, so this was my way of meeting the challenge. Naomi's "Soft Pretzels"

Ruth Turler

“Switzerland” My parents immigrated from Switzerland when my mother was pregnant with me so my heritage is very prominent in my life.
First of all, the quilt needed to be square because the Swiss flag is one of only two national flags that are square. I used 26 different red and white fabrics representing the 26 cantons (states) of Switzerland to create a map of Switzerland utilizing the Scrappy Appliqué method. The blue background is a man’s shirting fabric commonly used in the northeastern part of Switzerland. The backing has the edelweiss flower on it. I paper-pieced the chalet adding the red geraniums in the window boxes with embroidery. And, of course, what would a quilt about Switzerland be without chocolate and Swiss cheese! 24″ x 24″

Nancy Watts

“My Michigan Roots” I was born in Ann Arbor so that is where my roots are. My grandfather was a U of M professor for 50 years and my family all went to school there, including me. I learned to walk in the Michigan stadium.
I found some fabric with U of M logos and fussy cut the pieces. The challenge was working with 36 degree pieces and extending the lines into a square.
Anyone who knows me understands that I am truly a maize and blue person. I have proudly hung my challenge quilt in our home! 25.5″ x 24.5″

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  1. Wow ladies! What beautiful, thoughtful work! You are all so creative and imaginative! I throughly enjoyed reading about your family histories- thank you!❤️

  2. Thank you each and every artist! I appreciate you sharing more about yourself and your amazing talent.
    Vickie R

  3. These quilts are amazing!! I loved reading about how each quilter’s vision became a reality. Truly inspiring.

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