Monday, December 31, 2007

The story behind my headboard.....

Tanya spotted my headboard as looking like a fence when I shared some photos of Cranberry Cottage. She was right as it really is a fence! There is a story behind this headboard so I thought I would share it with you here even though normally my needlework is on my other blog. It all started with a quilt.....

I used to teach patchwork and quilting and this project was a very special one to my heart. It is my baby and I wanted to make it different from all the other Underground Railroad quilt code samplers you see nowadays. I designed this quilt using the Underground Railroad quilt code (which you can read at the bottom of this entry) but wanted it to have a look all my own. I also wanted the story of slavery to come alive for the ladies who took the class. I named my quilt "Sukey's Road to Freedom" and used all reproduction fabrics from the 1800s for my own quilt.

I organized a quilt show back in 2005 which was set in a Dutch farm near my home. We always feature the quilt projects I taught as well as the projects the quilt group work on. Here I am setting up the display for Sukey's quilt. Since the story goes that the quilts were used to give signals to escaped slaves and were often hanging out over a fence, I asked Jos to make me a fence post to hang one of the quilts on. We used two standing poles and attached the fence between and added finials to the posts. I knew when I came up with the idea that it would make a great headboard for the cottage after the quilt show.

This was one of the last classes I taught and it will always be very special to my heart. I created a booklet for the class.

I wrote the individual lessons up as if it were a diary of a young slave girl who runs away to freedom. Her name is Sukey and during the lessons, they followed her from the South to Ohio and then on to Canada. It was a moving quilt to teach and I remember one of the ladies sitting with tears in her eyes as I sat telling Sukey's story.

This is the period dress my mother sewed for me to wear during the quilt show.

Ozella's Underground Railroad quilt code:

"There are five square knots on the quilt every two inches apart. They escaped on the fifth knot on the tenth pattern to Ontario, Canada.

The 'monkey wrench' turns the 'wagon wheel' toward Canada on a 'bear's paw trail' to the 'crossroads'.
Once they got to the crossroads they dug a 'log cabin' on the ground.
'Shoofly' told them to dress up in 'cotton and satin bow ties' and go to the cathedral church, get married and exchange double wedding rings.
'Flying geese' stay on the 'drunkard's path' and follow the 'stars'."

taken from "Hidden in Plain View" by J. Tobin and R Dobard


diane said...

What a beautiful story!! I love how much effort and authenticity you put into this, and other things as well! What dedication, but truly your efforts were appreciated and the final products are beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Carolien said...

Hello Heidi,

What an impressive story about quilting and American history. I feel regrets I couldn't participate in your class then! It really is IMPRESSIVE! Thank you very much for sharing this with us.

I will put my best wishes for 2008 on my blog, but I also want to do it here: I wish you and Jos a very happy and healthy New Year! I also want to thank you in particular for your most kind support since I started blogging. It feels to me as if a dear friend is welcoming you all the time. I thought and think this is very special! I didn't expect that to happen when I started, but it did and that was such a nice surprise! THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH!

We will eat 'oliebollen en appelflappen' here, but I don't make them myself. I'm not good at it, I tried once or twice, but I know a baker baking them much better! We only eat them at the turning of the year, though. (My mother-in-law eats them the whole year, that's nothing for me!)

Have a nice evening!
With love, Carolien

Suzann said...

Oh Heidi. This is just the most beautiful and wonderful story I have ever heard. You went so far above and beyond to teach not only how to make this stunning quilt, but how to appreciate it's significance as well. Thank you so much for sharing it all. You brought tears to my eyes. God bless you for all the wonderful things you do to make everything extra special. You surely bring joy to everyone's life you touch.

Anonymous said...

Hello Heidi

The attention to detail in your quilting and the accompanying booklet is amazing. What beautiful work.

Sending warm best wishes from Ontario to you and your family for a safe and happy New Year.

Marie x

Nancy said...

This quilt is so beautiful Heidi - both to the eye and the heart with the story behind it. Thanks so much for sharing this, and it must have been a joy to teach this class. I love the dress that your mom made for you too. And, what a clever idea to use the display fence as a headboard. You must get a special feeling every time you look at it.

Nancy said...

Oh I so remember being there for this quilt show. It was so nice, and you did such a good story for your ladies. You looked so good in your dress too. It was a very
good show, and new friends came out of it for you.
Love you, Mom

Reginas Cottage said...

Dear Heidi
Have a Happy New Year !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Warmest wishes from Germany

Anonymous said...

Hi Heidi, Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story of your headboard. Knowing some of these patchwork patterns I could follow the path round your quilt. I never realised thou the information that the quilts held. I also love the photos of Cranberry Cottage and can understand why you love it so. My first glimpse of it reminded me so much of a dolls house. Thank you Heidi and I wish you and Jos a very happy, healthy,peaceful New Year. Love Hazel

Anonymous said...

Heidi you are a very special lady. Thanks for sharing such a "connecting" and touching story.

Susan in SC said...

Heidi - as usual, I am in awe of your workmanship and creativity! Thank you for sharing! Susan in SC

Tanya Willis Anderson said...

Hi Heidi,
I so enjoyed you telling the background of that fence-now-headboard. How beautiful and that class must have been a wonderful one to have such a great teacher in you.

Happy New Year!

angelasweby said...

Oh Heidi,
How wonderful. I enjoyed every minute of your story and learning all about the different patterns. What a lot of history is contained in these beautiful designs. Your quilting groups sound like an experience that will never be forgotten by everyone who attends. I so wish I could come and learn to quilt with you :>)
The dress Nancy made you is just amazing and I can imagine you looking the part. What a great idea to recreate the fence and then use it as a headboard. Gosh, I wish I could have seen one of your fascinating booklets. I love stories woven into activities, I think it's the storyteller in me :>)!!
Hugs, Angela
Warm hugs, Angela

Janice said...

Oh Heidi, this was a wonderful post! You took your quilt classes to whole new level with your lessons and story, and even the dress your mother made for you. What a fantastic teacher you are! Your quilt is just beautiful.
Have a very wonderful new year in every way!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year everyone!
Heidi the first time we met, you were wearing that special dress. The show was very cosy and it brought me a quiltgroup with nice friends. Thank you so much.

Rhondi said...

Hi Heidi
That's very interesting about the underground railroad patterns. I am originally from Ontario so it was of special interest to me! Thanks for recommending Marcia Willett. I am reading A Summer in the Country and am really enjoying it! I had to leave a request for the Winter one. Rhondi xo

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

Heidi - what a wonderful story! You are the most amazing quilter! I love what you do.

Happy New YEAR!

Mary said...

I see you, I see you!!! Pretty woman - I owe you an e-mail, I've been so busy but promise to write very soon!!

Happy, happy New Year to you, Jos and Dagi - thank you Heidi for being the sweet person you are.
Your talents are amazing - I loved this story about the quilting.

More soon.
Hugs - Mary

Sweet Cottage Dreams said...

Heidi, this is a very interesting story and a lovely piece to remember her by. The dress your mother sent to you is amazing and so period looking. I am certain that everyone loved your quilt and your energy that you put into making it not only a fun event, but a learning experience as well. See? You continue to amaze me!


Kristen said...

Wow, I remember you preparing for this and I love seeing the pictures! Oh, how I would love to have you closer to help me learn how to quilt well! I love that you take the quilting to heart and emphasize the story behind the quilt as that is truly the most important part of any craft!

Anonymous said...

Hi Heidi,
I like the freedom quilt. I have worn the sweater you got me several times. I am still not done making mine. I am on the second sleeve. I have to add "fat quarters" to the sides to keep the cable pattern from stretching over my belly.:( Oh, well!